IN THE STUDIO WITH CAROL LESKANIC

Photography by Brooke Slezak

Here at LES, we are being given the privilege of exploring the studio of multidisciplinary artist and master gilder Carol Leskanic. An LES artist, Carol specializes in collaborations of traditional water gilding and contemporary art and design.  She combines ancient and modern aesthetics to create custom and heightened works of art. Her studio reflects her method of mastering her medium and where she does her best work. Carol answers all of the questions below on her airy, spacial, and personal studio. 

1.  We are so excited to get the “behind the scenes” of your studio. What was your main source of inspiration for designing your studio?

I immediately fell in love with the space because it has a huge long wall of windows.  It reminded me of a few photo studios along the west side of Manhattan that I worked in back in my early career in fashion. Those were some wonderful collaborative times, and I like to be transported into that elevated energy of creativity.  

My studio has a meditative yet activated quality to it. It has a very large central room with a few rooms off to either side of it.   Because of this modular layout, I can work very singularly, but it has the potential to transform into a version of a collaborative incubator.

2. What does a day in your studio look like?

My day always starts with making tea or coffee, then clearing, moving, and often creating ‘brain dump’ lists.   I then find myself settling into a rhythm of quiet busy-ness, hopefully get into a flow to start ‘making’.

12k Short Candleholder

by Carol Leskanic

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Copper Tall Candleholder

by Carol Leskanic

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3. Do you have any studio must haves? A podcast? Playlist? Snacks?

YES! ‘The Daily’ podcast, sushi often for lunch, and a bit of chocolate for  an afternoon pick me up, and while it may sound silly, those little Nescafe Europen instant coffee packets!! I have a sensory memory of them from long ago and they just make me happy.

If I’m truly in a funk, I listen to Audible’s version of ‘Patti Smith at the Minetta Lane Theater’. It has moments that bring me to tears, I cry, then get on with the work of the day. No matter how many times I hear it, it’s always inspiring.

4. Many artists and creators consider the place where they create as important as the final artwork. Do you find that your studio is a haven that inspires you to produce your best work? Why or why not?

DEFINITELY!- 

My studio is a literal sanctuary, a total escape.  As you enter, there is a big barn door and when it slides closed behind me, it feels like I am somewhere sepreate from the world.  The light, the sound, the air - it's all different.  

I call it ‘the womb’.  

There is also a creek running right outside the windows and the sound of water can be heard in the distance. I love that visceral connection to nature.


 

5. How would you describe your artistic style in a few words?

Quiet, heightened, with the power of sensitivity.

 

6. What is one thing you wish you could tell your younger self?

Not to fear the judgment of others, to do whatever YOU need to do  (because it’s different for all) to find your inner voice/intuition and then listen to it and your work will feel authentic. That ‘success’ looks different for everyone. Oh!...and that you really won’t feel confident and inspired until you live enough to experience what touches you the most so consider all opportunities that come your way and experience everything you can so you know what you like and you don’t like and what you want for yourself!

 

Silver Short Candleholder

by Carol Leskanic

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Copper Riverstone Candleholder

by Carol Leskanic 

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7. You are referred to as a “multi-disciplinary artist”- could you delve deeper into this and tell us how you evolved to the artist you are today?

I started out studying fashion design because I really loved making things with my hands. While in fashion, I traveled constantly, which was really inspiring and formative…the quiet aesthetics of Japan especially, but also the old ‘romance’ and history of Europe, Paris, Italy, etc…I later stumbled upon a studio in Soho working as a gilder’s apprentice! It felt like the opportunity to delve into a form of ‘hands on art history’ and filled my craving for the more academic side and for ‘making’ again. Gilding also had an insane meditative quality to it that I naturally fell in love with.   I spent years working as a gilder for restoration and conservation of high end antique frames and furniture, learning all sorts of techniques and patinas to imitate and match the natural ‘age’ of a piece. It was fascinating.

Later, as I mastered gilding, I had a few amazing opportunities to work for and with a great designer, Thomas O’Brien of Aero Studios, and some brilliant artists…Rachel Feinstein, Phillip Taafe, Richard Phillips…. that really inspired me and lured me back toward making art of my own and designing again. 

Throughout, I was raising my 2 daughters which has been profound, to say the least.  There have been points when I have’nt been able to devote 100% of my time to my art, but when I finally was able to have my own studio (this one!) I had so much that I wanted to do….and to try… .some art, some design, some gilding, some studying ... and Ive been spilling myself into it fully.   My work has naturally evolved and wove together many influences, morphing into the work I produce today.

8. Over here at LES, we are amazed by your gilding ability. Since gilding is your primary medium, does your studio require anything different that a sculptor or painter may not have?

I'd say my studio is outfitted quite differently as I barely have any of the conventional painting materials. My studio base materials are very specific to the traditional water gilding process, so I have rabbit skin glue, gesso whiting, gold leaf and gilding tools such as squirrel hair ‘tips’ and agate stone burnishers.  

Of course, I am always dabbling  and experimenting with other materials, but those are my staples.

Midnight Bronze Candleholder

by Carol Leskanic

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Midnight bronze Riverstone Candleholder

by Carol Leskanic 

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9. Your most recent launch with LES had such a raw quality to it- What inspired you to create the natural finishes of the sculptures?

Well, I’d love to work with larger wood pieces as substructures to my gilded work as it would invite the MOST elevated version of gilding, but I’ve also been thinking alot about Alabaster lately. 

I love the idea of using historic techniques and applying them into modern pieces….renaissance techniques such as gesso pastiglia, sgraffito, egg tempera, punchwork. Old world meets modern minimalism, old and new.

10. Your most recent launch with LES had such a distinct quality and look to it- What inspired you to create the gleaming finishes of the candle holders?

I love the play of light, shadow and reflection and how that interacts with the color of a metal or the movement of a form. How it can change the way you feel. The metals used in the pieces for LES were less traditional, dark, warm, and I wanted to see how they would look together in a series….I loved the results!

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