Continuing our tradition of Great women creators here is some words and pictures from DANI LEIGH.

What was your first professional gig and how did you get it:
I have been selling my artwork since I was 18 years old and my very first piece was commissioned by my high school English teacher after graduation. It was huge, 24×36 and it was a surrealism piece. She had seen my portfolio display and felt I was the one to create
a piece for her home. I was paid very well and was surprised at how much I enjoyed working on the commission. It was exciting to be able to bring to life someone’s vision and although I had a brief departure while in the military, I knew I had to get back to creating artwork. I found myself getting request after request for my paintings within a few years after the military. I have been at it ever since.

What project (s) are you currently working on:
I have 2 commissions at the moment, one dragon and one fairy, so they are my first priority. I am finishing up my seasonal fairies series and I have sketches laid out for a sorcerer and new dragon painting that will be additions to my Darker Side of Fantasy and I am in the process of having prints made of some of my current paintings.

What project (s) are you most proud of?
Probably my newest piece “Priestess” but in all honesty, I could never pick just one project that I am most proud of. Everytime I complete a painting
and the client loves it, I am just as proud. It is what every artist hopes for! Every single time I finish I feel I have grown and learned something new.

What advice would you have for anyone looking to break in to your field:
Persistance is the key, you must keep at it! Take every opportunity to meet other artists whether or not they are in your genre. They will often offer experience and a perspective that can be invaluable to you. You also should remember not to allow rejection to weigh too heavily, you can’t appeal to everyone! Take what you can from it and use it as yet another learning experience and then move on.

What do you do to stay inspired:
I only allow those around me to speak elvish. I am of course joking. Research, research, research! I scour the internet, magazines, video games and tv for all things fantasy. Anything and everything may inspire me. Sometimes I will just see a certain color scheme in an advertisement and I will get a flood of different painting ideas from it. I constantly take the time to read about different mediums and techniques, even if you think you know all there is to know about it,
someone will still surprise you and a new technique always brings about fresh ideas.

Whose material do you think people trying to break into your field should study:
well, there are a great many fantasy artists out there. I think the most influential current fairy artists would have to be Brian Froud, Nene Thomas, Amy Brown & Ruth Thompson. I think overall fantasy artists would have to be Boris Valejo and Julie Bell, Larry Elmore &
Howard David Johnson, although I have seen some really great rising digital fantasy artists with talent that just amazes me.

What is your favorite word (and why)?
serendipitous – I think this word best describes certain aspects of my life at the moment and quite frankly, it’s just fun.

What is your least favorite word (and why)? surreptitious – I think this word describes certain people in my life at the moment.

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