Sharing her skills and and bringing the beauty of the outdoors to others is what Missouri State Fair Artist-in-Residence Jan E. Leakey, of Carrollton, enjoys most about art.
Leakey will be on hand to talk about her work through Monday upstairs at the Fine Arts Building on the fairgrounds.
She said she enjoys photographing nature, landscapes, wildlife, flowers and especially water and skies. Leakey has four pieces in the Open Division downstairs in the Fine Arts Building.
While at the Fair she will talk to visitors about her equipment, including vintage film cameras and current digital devices, and also provide slide shows of her work.
“If people want to see buildings or flowers or skies I’ve got thousands and thousands of of pictures,” she said. “I teach photography at the Y(MCA) and I teach 4-H. I’m not the most knowledgeable and I’m not an expert, but everybody calls me a pro; I think I’m a serious amateur. I like to play; it’s fun.”
Nature has always been a part of her life so it was a given that she turned to it as a subject matter.
“I love to travel, and I love the Rockies, I love the Smokies, I love any place like that,” she said. “Then, the thing of it is, you can turn around and slip down into your own backyard and if you pay attention, you can find all kinds of things.”
She also raises irises and often photographs the flowers in her yard.
Photography has been in her blood since she was a child when she received her first camera from her father, James DeWees, of Norborne.
“My dad got me interested in photography when I was 12 or 13,” she added. “I got to use his old Aires 35mm to start with … and then I took (photography) in 4-H. 4-H was a big part of it. I’ve taken pictures all my life.”
As a youngster, she was also yearbook photographer for Norborne High School.
Because of her early exposure to photography, she now teaches the skill and its history to three Carroll County 4-H Clubs — Chase, Bosworth Fireballs and the Happy Hustlers — plus a class at the YMCA.
She often emphasizes to the children that photography wasn’t always as easy as using a digital camera. She said Ansel Adams had to pack a 4-by-5 view camera or 6.5-by 8.5 glass plate camera on a mule while trekking into the wilderness to get his famous shots.
Growing up in the film generation and then transitioning to the digital age was something she resisted for awhile.
“I didn’t want to at first,” she said. “But, … now there’s the instant gratification where you can double check a shot. You have that opportunity, instead of waiting two weeks and saying ‘oh, I guess I missed it, and I can never go back again.’”
She still isn’t as pleased with the color quality of digital versus film. Although, she’s found it is easy to adjust digital color in a computer program such as Photoshop Elements or Corel.
She teaches her students about using the computer to work up their digital images as well.
“We even have what they call a computer arts project,” Leakey noted. “Where we turn around and do weird things in Photoshop.”
Leakey enjoys taking a photo of something such as a flower, copying it and then reversing it. She then creates a new file and uses the polar coordinates tool to make a new image.
“I wrap it and it gives it that heart shape,” she added. “Polar coordinates is a fun (tool). Everyone thinks, ‘how did you do that?’ Well, it takes a little work. You have to duplicate, and put it together, and create the image.”
MSF Artist-in-Residence Jan E. Leakey will be in the Fine Arts Building from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today through Monday. Artist David Christopher will join her Saturday and Artists Don Stoll and Mark Farris will join her Monday.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 826-1000 ext. 1481 or @flbemiss.