For this month, Winnipeg River Arts Council revisits a previously featured artist, Leah Boulet. Born and raised in Pine Falls, she moved to Silver Falls in 1987, and then moved to St-Georges in 1995. Boulet has many artistic talents but, right now, she is focused on pen and water colour illustration. She says, “I like illustrating better than fine art.”
To enhance her skills, she has taken courses from well-known rural artists: Pinawa’s Brenda McKenzie, Pine Falls’ Roberta Laliberte, and Winnipeg Beach’s Heidi Hunter. She reads books about illustration, has completed online courses such as “Sketchbook Skool,” and follows internet artists, including Jonathan Twingley from United States, Felix Scheinberger from Germany, and Prashan Miranda from Canada/East India.
Boulet completed a Human Ecology Degree, where she studied design and fashion illustration, with clothing/textile major and business minor, and did her practicum with a magazine. Presently, she puts her business skills to use, working as an accounting clerk for Rural Municipality of Alexander. Last spring, she co-instructed an art course with Roberta Laliberte. She did four weeks on drawing and Roberta did four weeks on water colours. Prior to that, she taught a year of high school art.
Last year, the editor Wayne Chan asked to include her story and two of her illustrations in his collection of short stories, Manitoba at Christmas. Her photography has been exhibited at St-Georges Museum and her art has also been shown at the school. At this point, she’s not interested in prizes, but she’d like to enter arts shows, such as Eastman Judged Art Exhibition in the future.
A few years ago, Boulet discovered “Sketchcrawlers,” the concept of getting artists together to sketch outside. This idea started in United States and has since spread across the world. She says, “I wanted to try it. So I invited one friend. It felt scary to sketch in public, like I was pretending to be something I wasn’t. But it got me outside to enjoy the summer.”
After that, she kept inviting people of all skill levels to join her, and created a Facebook group called “River Sketchcrawlers.” Anyone interested in sketching can check out this page, sign up for notifications, and join the fun. The artists meet in the summer, on Monday nights, at a location that it is announced a couple of days earlier. If it is raining, they move into a shelter.
Boulet says, “I love the creative process, making something where nothing existed. I also love the stories that you find in art.”