Artist on Artist: Lea Wells on Paul Gauguin

Artist on Artist: Lea Wells on Paul Gauguin

Lea Wells grew up on a barrier island, surfing, swimming with sea turtles, and running around in flip flops. Now, she skis, hikes mountains, and wears snow boots. She has a background in graphic design and advertising, but mainly likes to create art that inspires and helps others. According to Lea, "Someone once said I create small characters that are big on emotion, and I like that."

Denver Art Museum: Who is your favorite artist featured in Modern Masters and why?

Lea Wells: Paul Gauguin’s art is the most tempting to me because of the beautiful South Sea colors of mango oceans and melon sunsets. His controversial lifestyle makes it difficult to appreciate the beauty in his art, but it is so hard to avoid the lure of the visual Eden he paints.

DAM: What is your personal artwork like?

Wells: The galleries and publishers that represent me call my art “whimsical." My work has been occasionally compared to Tim Burton’s art and Neil Gaiman’s writing. I do large canvases for galleries in acrylic and oil, and I do illustrations in watercolor and pencil for children’s books. I just finished a book for FlowerPot Press.

DAM: How does Gauguin influence you and your work today?

Wells: The inspiration of vivid color or black & white lines done in a unique style is as stimulating to an artist as an open road is to a runner, a spice is to a chef, or a beautiful quote is to a writer.

Image Credit: Paul Gauguin (French, 1848–1903), Spirit of the Dead Watching, 1892. Oil on burlap mounted on canvas; 28-3/4 x 36-3/8 in. Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY. A. Conger Goodyear Collection, 1965.

Lea Wells, Sail.

Lea Wells, Beach.

Lea Wells, Whale.

Katherine McAtee was a public relations intern in the communications department at the Denver Art Museum. Katherine has been at the DAM since 2014, and her favorite exhibition that has been on view here is Yves Saint Laurent: The Retrospective.