Chicago's December Artist of the Month: Lee Draus
In contrast to the chill air and dull color outside, guests to the Chicago Studio will be greeted by a blast of bright, warm colors in the drawings of Lee Draus. He was selected as December’s Artist of the Month by curatorial committee member, Tim Stone. While both have distinct practices, they were able to find some points of connection too.
Catherine (CN): Tim, as curator, what are some things you’d want people to know about Lee’s art?
Tim (TS): It is really nice. He does buildings, sometimes bridges, and trees, even Big Ben. He uses color and line in ways that are amazing. I noticed a lot of shapes too.
CN: Lee’s work transcends his architectural reference imagery through flatness and graphic patterning. Do you feel like your own practice as an abstract artist influenced how you curated?
TS: Yes. I selected pieces that were more abstract, but still realistic.
CN: What’s it like to be Artist of the Month? Do you feel like it has changed your work?
Lee (LD): Yes, it has made me feel more relaxed and more confident in what I’m doing. It made me feel like I could accomplish great things. I know I can get the goal done, if I keep my nose to the grindstone.
CN: Tell us more about your practice?
LD: I draw architecture mostly. I get my references from books. I work hard to get all the details. I have been using colored pencils. I aim to use brighter colors, and not so many dark ones.
CN: Tim, do you think Lee’s medium of choice lends any unique qualities to his work?
TS: He uses reference images to make choices about color but Lee gets lots of shades in his colors because of different layers of colored pencils. That’s not really the same as what you would get with paint. He also has neat and thin lines throughout his images.
CN: What are your priorities as an artist?
LD: If I don’t get all the details in, I’m not happy with it. I look really hard at the pictures. I work extremely hard to make beautiful art, to bring out the beauty that’s in the picture. I tried some grayscale drawings, but what I really want is colors that will pop out.
CN: Do you have a favorite piece in the show?
LD: Yes, it is this one with the sailboats. The three sailboats on the lake.