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The Story of "National Treasures"

A Collection of Oil and Cold Wax Paintings by Leanne Fink

ONCE UPON A TIME two years ago, an artist was looking for something to paint. She had just finished the Cradle of Life Collection of paintings inspired by her visit to Jordan. Three of the works were selected by Art in Embassies to be displayed at the US Embassy in Amman, Jordan. Wow!

On to something new and exciting.

The artist sifted through her photo albums looking for landscapes when she came upon snapshots from the American West, Bryce Canyon and the Badlands to be specific. Memories of Jordan came flooding back. The similarities were uncanny and, oh, how she had fallen in love with Wadi Rum.

The spark that ignited a fire of inspiration.

Remembering what her husband had said to her a long time ago- "You cannot see all that is America from the air, you need to drive and explore"- the artist dove into the photos from their 'no reservations' vacation and was gobsmacked by the rich collection. The trip came flooding back and ignited a fury of excitement. She went back further into other photos taken in Alaska and along the east coast. Her mind racing with possibilities, the concept of a series of paintings honoring the beauty and grandeur of the American landscape was born.

The Keystone: Tree Spirits of Denali

Why is this a pivotal work of art? The painting was the first created for the new collection. Influencing the artist's process were two major elements that began while painting the Cradle of Life Collection. One was the addition of cold wax to oil pigments, a medium that adds texture and a protective matte finish. Two was a significant shift in color palette. Muted and lighter tones were needed to capture the feeling of Jordan and its desert climate. She fell in love with these colors and found that their juxtaposition with more saturated hues resulted in a scintillating effect. 'Tree Spirits of Denali' set the color palette and style for National Treasures.

Once around the park.

The following year the artist shifted her focus to other ideas, painting dream imagery and exploring the Universe through her art. Another collection? 'Tree Spirits...' was simmering on the wall in her studio...waiting.

Course correction and a new assignment.

Later that year, the artist was visited by the curator of The Athenaeum Gallery. 'Tree Spirits of Denali' caught her discerning eye. The artist and the curator talked over the concept of a collection honoring the grandeur of US National Parks. The curator lit a torch of enthusiasm to guide them both and told the artist she needed fifteen paintings in twelve months for a solo exhibition.

In a spin.

The artist immediately set to work. This daunting task required intense discipline. She had to put mental blinders on in order to avoid many 'shiny pennies' of art opportunities out there, allowing the necessary focus to complete the collection on time. She did just that.

The Athenaeum Gallery: Alexandria, Virginia

The artist states, "Seeing 'National Treasures' in its premiere exhibition took my breath away. The classically designed gallery enveloped the art with quiet elegance. So hand in glove. The presentation was amazing. I am happy to say that the collection has been well received by the public and the media.

"As I move forward on my artist's journey, I extend my gratitude to all at The Athenaeum Gallery. You have made this collection a reality. The confidence that you placed in my abilities along with an exhibition deadline pushed me to take an evolutionary step forward in my art. I have enjoyed and learned much from the experience. Thank you."


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