Inherithearth – The Interdimensional & Life Paintings of Cynthia Van Leeuwen

Who are you? 

I am an oil painter born and living in Toronto, although I lived in the USA for over a decade. Reno, Minneapolis, on a mountain in New Mexico between Sante Fe and Sante Fe and Manhattan for most of that time


What do you do?

Oil painter, Portrait Artist, Paint A Canvas, Paint Your Pet (these last two are teaching, instructional gigs.)


Why did you get started?

In my soul, chomping at the bit before I could walk or talk


Tell us the 1st time you knew what you are doing is the way?

I had a mantra when I was only a child that ran through my mind to encourage me in my despair of the state of the world, the oppression I felt and saw around me, "This time, this time, this time, this time. It accompanied me as I walked to school, as I was hurt, frustrated, enraged, grief-stricken, terrified.


What are you working on right now?

I have a show at the hospital in Burlington where my mother recently died. I have a show coming up at Starving Artist Runnymede and St Clair. I took part in the Articulations Sketchbook Challenge, the show is up there right now.


Describe your creative process?

I starve to paint more than I hunger for food. I want to paint stories in brush strokes.


Who is your art for?

My art is for people who have feelings, for the underdog, for the consciously aware, for children because they are usually strongly all of these things. I go for the tears when I do a portrait. If I can make someone cry my day is made.


What is the hardest part about being an artist?

Painting as well as I wish to. It is a rough lifestyle in some ways. Painters drop off the edge of the arts for the most part.


If you could tell your younger self anything what would it be and why? 

You got it, no doubt!


If you had to pitch a collaborative project to the community, what would it be?

Oh Lord I have a brilliant idea I have been trying to get greenlighted so long. It is a long story is there room for that here?


What is one thing you'd like to fix in the art community?

I would love to see people painting being as ubiquitous as music/dance clubs

Why is art and creativity important for the community at large

This has been urgent to me for ages. I saw how creative types were more or less shoved into graphic design/advertising because 'there is no money in art'. Advertising can be brilliant but when it steals the cream of the crop new radar ideas and then slap their logo on it is reductive. I have longed to see billboards used for actual 'advertising' and now I see that happening. I love it. Bigger huge art for the community to 'learn' from. Expansion and evolution all around!


Have you had to deal with isolation, mental health and or homelessness? What did you learn from your experience?

I feel pretty much we all suffer from 'mental health' because our world is sick as chit. We are more than mental, we have four parts, Spirit, Body, Heart and Will. If any of these is out of whack we are out of whack and we for sure are out of whack. I have been blessed with a strong inner world which has held and guided me through this mess. I have been homeless and that is terrifying. I was okay but it is a super rough gig. I would not wish it on anyone. This Universe is wondrous beyond compare and even when I literally had nowhere to stay, wandering the streets, I was okay


What are your views on isolation, homelessness, mental health in the arts community?

Oh let's have so much more of it. Creating is healing, the process, the story and the outcome.

What are some steps artists can take to cope with isolation, homelessness, mental health? 

I feel we need to be encouraged to know how glorious we are and that we can ask for help from even our Higher Selves to guide us. I feel the more we believe in our exact subjective experience, the more we learn to accept ourselves exactly as we are in any given moment the more we may relax and feel loved and cared for. The minority of one is as important as the One.


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