We are so excited to have work by local artists Brian Rounds and Louise Leong at Stripe this April for First Friday. With our community outreach focus on the Diversity Center of Santa Cruz, we hope to warm your heart after this cold March rain with a classic Stripe cocktail and community from 5-9pm. Read below to find out a little bit more about our artists formative years, process and inspirations!

Louise Leong


When did you start painting?
I began painting with gouache in the last year. Because of my background working in screenprinting, I usually plan out my prints in flats of opaque colors. I'm able to compose my gouache paintings in the same way but I started thinning my paint with so much water that I'm using them like a traditional watercolor.

What is the most indispensable item in your collection of your tools and mediums?
29 cent Astrobrite scratch paper pads from Darco Paper (on Doyle Street) and a chisel tip Prismacolor Illustration pen. I make thumbnail sketches whenever I am working on a new paint marker art piece. Over the last three years I have probably made over 200 drawings using Darco scratch pads and these pens. In the end I actually like the thumbnail sketch better than the final piece for the character they have.

What about Santa Cruz inspires you?
I'm inspired by store regulars, seeing people pass through my neighborhood or work neighborhood and knowing their schedule, and seeing familiar people all around town at their jobs. It's comforting to see so many familiar people all the time and develop relationships to them in whatever capacity. And so many people are artists here! In the morning, our mailman, Juan, drops off the mail and from time to time will show us a photo of the designer cake he made the night before. In the afternoon, I stop by the hot dog stand for lunch and to talk to my friend Daniel who takes art classes at Cabrillo and we discuss painting. I'm inspired by people and feeling connected to them because we're all working through the day to keep at our other passions.

 

Brian Rounds


Growing up, what did art mean to you and how did you find yourself drawn to practicing it/making it a career?
Growing up, I was one of those kids who was constantly sketching in the margins of school notebooks. Recognition from teachers early on was encouraging. By late high school I was carrying around a sketchbook almost everywhere and trying to make every page well designed. Fellow students would try to get me to complete their art projects for them. I would illustrate stories in ball point and meticulously catalogue cassette tapes with copious attention to detail cover artwork.

Tell us about your training and influences.
In college, I started out in literature, then design, and wanted to be an illustrator.  My professors at Cal Poly could not satisfy my hunger for drawing so they prescribed for me a much more rigorous studio art curriculum. At UCSC, I was lucky enough to study with Patrick Aherne, who had a gift for instilling in his students a great love and respect for painting. That was where I first tried my hand at painting the landscape outdoors. I also practiced freelance illustration for a while but it was painting in oils that really took hold of me.

Some of my deepest influences go way back to old friendships, mentors and fellow artists. Other artists I find endlessly inspiring are Cezanne, Barbizon painters, Corot, Courbet, Morandi, Ab Ex painters, Diebenkorn, and many more.

What do you find yourself most drawn to in painting?
With painting, I feel as though I've taken on a challenge that I will never be able to truly exhaust and that notion spurs me on today just as it did when I finished school. In a way, I have kept a steady course but there is always so much room for improvement as a visual artist, as a craftsman, and as a person. There are also many places I look forward to painting.