Savannah artist Carys LeRoy creates beautiful portraits of people

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My wife Gretchen and I buy a lot of local art.

We’re not rich at all, but, over the years, we’ve been able to collect little bits and pieces of many of our favorites.

In our living room and dining room we have works by Tiffany O’Brien, Ruth Sykes, Stacie Jean Albano, Nae’Keisha Jones, Angela Burson, AJ Perez, Troy Wandzel, Shelley Smith, Brian MacGregor, Ugis Berzins and two pieces by Jennifer Moss.

In my son’s bedroom is one of Peter Roberts’ earliest cutouts of a haunted radio. Also, we have paintings by José Ray and Maxx Feist that are not yet mounted because I want to crop them, which regularly annoys me because they are too good not to be seen.

Previous off-air art:Savannah artist Susan Hopp works outside of traditional media, investigating digital art

Beyond the artwork we bought off the shelf, so to speak, I also ordered a few pieces especially for my wife for various special occasions. This includes a cheerful portrait of her and our son by the amazing Zay Hutchins, as well as a colorful pigeon, my wife’s spirit animal you might say, painted in miniature by David Laughlin.

Recently for Mother’s Day I commissioned yet another piece, this time by the artist Carys LeRoy. She’s a local artist I discovered on Instagram through a portrait she did of Tamara Isaak-Harrington, an artist I had recently interviewed for this column. I didn’t know much about her otherwise, but the piece she did of Tamara was so fun that I knew I wanted to see how she could approach a family portrait of my wife, my son, and myself. , as well as our two cats Rabbit and Odin.

The end result was beyond my wildest hopes.

“I try to capture people and moments as authentically as possible,” LeRoy told me during this week’s episode of Art on the Air. “I like to draw my friends. I like to draw people I have a connection with and try to capture their essence I guess. Their personalities, the parts of them that I really like, in art.

Carys and I didn’t know each other before I hired her to create the illustration, but she certainly “captured the essence” of my clan with the work she did. In many ways, the room looks like a whimsical version of your typical family portrait, with Gretchen and I standing side by side, our son between us, and our two cats in the foreground.

Remarkably, however, the resulting illustration was in no way a direct copy of a photograph I had of our family. Instead, I had sent her dozens of random images of all of us, images that she used as references for the final composite. Somehow, the end product ended up far beyond the sum of its parts.

“I never start with some kind of plan,” LeRoy explained of his process. “I would say the drawing, once you figure out where it’s all going to go, that’s the easy part. The sort of picking and choosing is almost like creating a collage in your mind and then translating it to paper.

“I usually do half a dozen thumbnails, throw them away, [and] make another half dozen,” she continued with a laugh. “And I think about it too much until I’m like, ‘Okay, that’s what we’re going to do. But ultimately, it’s about the online economy. How can I convey the most by doing the least?

The illustration’s simple charm is why it’s been sitting in its easel frame on our kitchen island since the day I gave it to my wife. It’s fun to watch, and I can’t help but smile when I see all five of us rendered the way LeRoy chose to portray us. As an artist who uses a ton of detail in her own drawings, I find it amazing how much she was able to take advantage of what is fairly minimal linework.

Father’s Day 2022:I love you dad. I’ll miss you. Thank you for being the greatest champion of my art.

“It makes it harder sometimes because it’s like you’re working with a limited amount of stuff, so you have to make it count,” she said of her simple style. “And sometimes I think I make it difficult for myself, but I’m kind of a perfectionist in that way, I would say, where I don’t mind doing it over and over and over again until I get it. . right.”

“The less material you have to work with, I would say, the more critically you look at what’s there,” LeRoy added. “And sometimes that’s a good thing, and sometimes I just have to put it down and say, ‘Okay, I’ve been watching this for too long’ and come back to it. [And then, after a break] I’m like, okay, now I’m starting to see what was wrong with that, or what was wrong, because sometimes you can overthink it, I would say.

Rob Hessler

In the case of the family portrait I commissioned as a gift for my wife for Mother’s Day, her commitment to the perfect line resulted in not only a memorable gift, but a more than valuable addition to our family collection. local art.

Those interested in ordering a Carys LeRoy piece can do so by connecting with her via Twitter @caryslaRoy, on Instagram @carysl or by emailing [email protected]

Art off the Air is a complement to the radio show “Art on the Air” hosted by Rob Hessler and Gretchen Hilmers. The column can also be found at savannahnow.com/entertainment.

The show airs Wednesdays from 3-4 p.m. on WRUU 107.5 FM Savannah and on WRUU.org.

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