You don’t have to be an animal lover to enjoy Leigh Ellexson’s animal illustrations. But it won’t hurt. Using mainly watercolors, Ellexson experiments with both colors and textures, with the result more often than not being cheerful and uplifting.
Incidentally, experimentation is key to Ellexson’s practice, which involves a lot of trial and error. Being primarily self-taught she admits that the conventional art-school-route never appealed to her. “I transferred art schools once and dropped out twice,” she relayed on her website. “School wasn’t for me.”
Now based in Cincinnati, Ohio, she works independently, sharing her space with a 6-year-old parrotlet named Hercules and a 3-year-old dog nicknamed Toadie. She also runs a YouTube channel, where she shares her tips and tricks about the trade.
“There are TONS of benefits of going to art school such as networking, being able to learn and try expensive equipment + supplies, a concentrated community of artists, art outreach programs, among many other things,” she admits. “I wasn’t taking advantage of what it had to offer so I decided to spend my money elsewhere and continuing practicing solo.”
Much like her approach to art making, Ellexson sees style as a fluid thing, discovered through working (and making mistakes). “I find that what helped me hone in on a style as an artist was taking a lot of time to improve my skills,” she writes. “It’s not something everyone has time for but there’s not a better way to find yourself as an artist than making work.”