Student artist cites upbringing as inspiration

By Phillip C. Sunkel IV |

Before she was even old enough to learn to walk, Leigh Abear was spending time in art studios. Being around art her whole life has left her with an undeniable talent, which beams from her artwork. From advertising posters to illustrations for children, Abear has a style which appeals to all that view her work.

Abear, a 21-year old senior at Flagler College, grew up in Stamford, CT., along with her three sisters, mother and father. Her mother, Pam Abear, is a professional artist who surrounded Abear with artwork every day of her childhood.

“This is a child who has been in my studio since she could stand, well since forever, she has been in my studio,” said Pam Abear. “When she finally was able to draw and hold something it was a colored pencil.”

With an in-house studio filled with her mother’s work to help inspire her, Abear began to draw anything she could with colored pencils, never crayons.

When Abear was going into elementary school, she was asked to bring a box of crayons with her to school. Instead she hand-selected colored pencils with her mother.

“You can’t accomplish what she did at that age with a crayon,” said Pam Abear. “She would draw little one-inch high people, so elaborate with little shoes on, pocket books, little outfits, little pearls on their neck, and hairdos. This is what she did when she was little, she just kept drawing little people and how could she have done that with crayons? I just couldn’t ever ask her to move backwards like that.”

Abear said she is grateful for her artistic childhood.

“I used to sit in front of the TV with a stack of paper and just draw and make my own cartoons up to TV shows,” Abear said, laughing.

Abear said those constant hours of practice as a child, along with the influence of her mother’s work, have molded her into the positive, bubbly artist she is today.

Today Abear’s work is filled with vibrant textures and shapes that reach out to the viewer’s eye, almost as if inviting the viewer to step into the image.

“Leigh is really talented just in terms of depicting things representationally,” said Sara Pedigo, 30, an assistant professor of art and design at Flagler College. “She is just really adept at capturing textures and forms that make those images come alive in a way. All her imagery has so much life and color in it.”

The series Abear has been working on recently is a set of close-up paintings and drawings depicting the eating and disposal of the food we eat.

“Right now I’m going to start a painting of the inside of a mouth,” Abear said. “I don’t know, I find things that have a lot of detail to be interesting.”

The depth of color and detail of her latest work is more beautiful than the description on this paper.

“I’m a fine art major and I minor in advertising illustration,” Abear said. “I want to go into advertising or marketing and be on the creative side of that and then eventually get into the part where I’m managing and kind of telling people what the idea is and then having them create it.”

However, that is not the only goal Abear has.

“On the side, I definitely want to illustrate books, children’s books,” she said. “Really, there’s no boundaries when it comes to illustrating children books and the more vibrant and even sometimes graphic it is. It reads better.”

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