Painting Portland In a New Light
New Paintings by Portland based artist Tracy Leagjeld
In the new series of urban landscapes by Portland based artist Tracy Leagjeld, her ability to capture the essence of a place is evident after the initial painterly style and colors draw the viewer in for a closer look. Leagjeld prefers to work in series, whether that be the outdoor landscapes of central Oregon or the downtown streets of a large urban center. Tracy's collectors are well aware of her beautiful outdoor nature-based landscapes, however I think this new series of urban landscapes will broaden her audience to a much more sophisticated understanding of her work. What most people don't realize is that Tracy paints locations wherever she may be, including places such as Mexico, Italy, and Napa Valley among others. After recently relocating to Portland from Bend Oregon, Tracy's attraction to the contrast of light and dark and how it affects color is focused currently on the urban landscapes of the city, resulting in the new series.
Tracy comes from an artistic family with her mother and sister both painters, her son a professional photographer and her daughter an accomplished painter with an MFA. Like most artists, knowing when the painting is finished is not an easy task, but Tracy has learned to stop and sit back and return to the pieces later. She adds that they are usually done before she thinks they are, and if she keeps working on them, they would tend to be overworked and lose the looseness that is associated with her distinct style.
Fueling her passion for creativity is a compulsion to try to figure things out, to have to get it right, and that continues to motivate her to continue pursuing her art. "The beauty is," she says, "I'll never figure it out, so I expect I'll be painting until I am very old." When asked about her definition of success as an artist, she responds by saying that the true definition of success is when you don't need the approval of anyone else and you have total faith in your own direction and vision.
If she was not an artist, the other career she could see herself doing she says would be a botanist or zoologist or some kind of scientist. As a native Oregonian, Tracy grew up with the ducks and geese and abundant wildlife all around us in the Pacific northwest. She had charts on her bedroom walls that she would use to track the survival rate of ducklings by different mothers and spent hours studying them. Her observations and interest in nature have undoubtedly enhanced her ability to see her surroundings and have contributed to the richness of her work. One of my mentor teachers in college was the famous photorealist Robert Bechtle, and I learned so many valuable lessons from him. He stressed over and over the importance of seeing and observing your surroundings, and he had his students spend countless hours outside and inside drawing and painting, directly observing what we see. It was not until many years later that I came to understand his methods.
One question I am always interested in asking accomplished artists is "What advice would you give to art students in college now?"
I think most people could benefit from her advice:
"Study business management and take many creative writing classes."
She says she is surprised at how much writing a painter has to do.
Good advice; I think Steven Speilberg gave the same advice to film students.
If you want to see more of Tracy Leagjeld's work, please visit her website at