In this Art Talk, we explore the themes behind the practice of one of our newest artists, Lee Munn. Read our interview with the artist below! Let us know what you think!
Lee is a local artist living and working in Hamilton, Ontario, that primarily paints landscape pieces in various styles. His formal art education began 40 years ago, at the age of 16, and continued through his late teens when he studied ‘Fine Arts’ at DVSA and ‘Arts & Graphic Design at George Brown and Sheridan College.
Lee likes to travel all over Ontario (in all seasons), painting small pieces on location and taking photographs. After this, he will bring the reference imagery/painting/sketch back to his studio to create a larger painting, completing his vision. During the painting process, Lee will listen to music, ensuring only one band informs the piece by listening to them exclusively until the painting is complete. Every painting is completed this way. This process also informs the titles of the work because all paintings are titled with a lyric from the band that influenced the piece during its creation.
Lee is a proud member of the SCA “The Society of Canadian Artists,” FCA “The Federation of Canadian Artists,” and the OSA “The Ontario Society of Artists.” Lee has several pieces of his artwork exhibited across Canada, the USA, and Europe, which are represented in both private and public collections
interview with the artist
CH: What would you say motivates your practice? Why do you create? Who encouraged you to keep painting?
LM: I have always enjoyed going around our country so many different times to see the beauty it gives us. All the many colours at different times of the year are just marvelous to be brought out on canvas.
Growing up my grandfather drew, so he was the first to spark interest. In my teens, I was a Norman Rockwell fan, which then led to Lawrence Harris & many of Group of Seven, which to this day are still strong influences in my work. Along with so many of my peers over the years through SCA, FCA & OSA.
CH: Your paintings are titled with song lyrics. What kind of a role does music play in your practice?
LM: It goes back to about 15 years ago. I was working on a painting and had some music on. It was time to put something different on, so I changed bands, and the painting went downhill. Put the other band back on, and all went well. So it is just a superstition more than anything. But over the years, I have been followed back by many different musicians. I have even named quite a few paintings from a line in their songs.
CH: Your work can shift in style and subject matter. What draws you to new subject matter and new motifs? What do you find so compelling about it?
LM: It is wonderful to have a style and stick with it. People recognize this artist immediately, and it helps with promotional views from both the people and media/studios. I understand I should try a little more this way to be more recognized, but I like shifting my style for 2 reasons. 1/ Over a long period of time, people won’t get tired of the same thing and have a choice of different styles at the studio; 2/ I like change. I do not want to repeat what I have done and get tired of it. After working in newspapers for 30 years, every day was the same, “rinse & repeat”. Luckily art does not have to be that way.
CH: What are your goals for your art practice in 2022/23?
LM: Always trying different styles while trying to maintain a similar look and feel is both awkward and motivating at the same time. I do not want all my paintings to look just like the last one I did, but I also know there should be some similarity so that people can see a piece and say, ‘Oh, that one must be done by Lee…” does help in this business.
Beyond this…? Like most artists, I hope my name has grown enough that if I’m gone, I still have some paintings to take care of my family.
CH: Can you describe a day in your studio life?
LM: I usually start with looking through my photos, choosing and adjusting tones & light. Stretch my canvas to the size I want for the piece, and work on putting a base undercoat of colours most common for the art piece. I will sketch out where the main important lines will be for correct proportion. Then start working layer upon layer with darks on lights & light on darks until all the details have been worked on to create the final detailed piece.
I usually get up in the morning with Erika before 6 am and have a coffee or 2 before even attempting anything else! Coffee #3 comes into the studio with me. I then turn on the chosen tunes for the painting I am working on. I scrape and clean my palette, then replace all chosen paints for the piece back on the palette. I usually work until 3-5 pm without breaks and then call it a day. I don’t know why but I cannot work effectively past that point (summer or winter).
Having worked so many years in the newspaper industry, I was used to painting until I had to go to work more of an ‘afternoon style shift’. So mornings were for me and the canvas.
CH: What do you think brings you the most inspiration to start painting?
LM: I love doing artwork. After working 30+ years in the newspaper/advertising industry, I am happy to call this my job. I always have 30 to 50 pieces ready to start with the pictures, canvases & frames all set in storage, ready to go. Choosing which composition I go to next usually depends on my schedule and the need for a piece, such as if I am preparing for an exhibition or completing a commission for a client.
CH: What has been the most enjoyable part of your art career so far?
LM: The people!!! Everyone I get to meet is the best part about the job! Through either clients or friends I’ve met at group showings, studio representations, or just clients who I deal with and talk with daily. It is a pleasure to get to know the people in this industry and those who support it.
CH: What does the term “art” mean to you? How does it identify with your practice?
LM: It is a reasonably enjoyable job!! We all have our busy, awkward, and sometimes irritating parts of our job, but overall it is much more fun than all other professions I have held over the years.
CH: Has anyone influenced you significantly in your artistic journey? If so, who and what did this change? Are there any other artists/artworks that you are inspired/influenced by?
LM: My biggest influence has been family. My parents were supportive back in the days when I was choosing whether or not to go to College for Fine Art or University to be a financial broker (I love numbers). After 7 years of art college and working in newspapers for 30 years, my wife was 100% behind me when I decided to paint full-time.
I actually returned back to fine arts when I had to be in hospital for 3-month increments during brain surgeries. I had nothing else to do, so I returned to painting in the hospital… it all went forward from there.
What also truly inspires me is my love for nature and the feeling of being outside. The trees, water, sky, sunrise & sunset all come together to create the feeling of this wonderful place that we live in.
CH: What do you do in your leisure time when you aren’t painting?
LM: I enjoy getting out with my wife, family & friends. I enjoy working in the yard, landscaping, gardening, and doing work on my deck & pergola. I have always enjoyed woodworking, and building decks, docks, and pergolas, both with and for friends & family.
Watch our website and social media for updates and new work by Lee Munn!
BE THE FIRST TO KNOW
Sign up for our newsletters for promotions, new artwork, subscriber exclusives, and more!