Artist profile: Lea Gadbois

Her artwork has been glimmering in our Fourth Street-side window and she may have even helped you design your latest custom framing project. We're talking about the multifaceted artist and fellow Chico Paper Company designer, Lea Gadbois. She is our youngest artist in the gallery and a marvel with the paint brush. 

Gadbois' impressionistic landscapes embrace the natural world in Northern California. Depicting familiar settings with bold colors and dynamic textures bring the landscapes to life, and add an element of fantasy to feed the imagination. 

The Chico artist shared her methods, inspirations and ultimate painting playlists. Get to know your neighborhood artist, Lea Gadbois. 


How did you get started painting?

I took an art class in high school which introduced me to the medium, followed by intro to painting in college.

I took it just for fun, not knowing I would get serious about it in the years to come. After college, I offered to help paint murals in the Babylon Art Center building (which no longer exists), and that experience ignited my interest in painting professionally.

How would you describe your style?

Part impressionism, surrealism and realism, strongly influenced by Van Gogh.

You work with a lot a textures, what is the appeal?

Working with texture is fun! It literally adds another dimension to the art, making the composition more interesting. For example, I'm working on a painting of a tree where I am building up the texture of the tree bark to the point where it starts to get sculptural. In this sense it's nice to combine modeling and painting in one piece, so that I'm not limited to one art form.

What was the inspiration for the starry night pieces with glitter?

One of my favorite things to do is to go camping and watch for shooting stars at night, where there is less light pollution. Since I can't go do that all the time, I paint the starry night scenes to procure that sense of being out in nature: peaceful, relaxing, and quiet. It's also extremely difficult to get a really good photograph of the stars, so I might as well paint the night skies how I remember them- with a little extra pizazz. Plus, it's fun to take an typical night scene and add my own twist to make it truly awesome. 

What challenges do you face with working with resin?

Not getting it on the carpet in my room, not lighting my apartment on fire, working quickly/ efficiently/accurately, keeping the dust & hair off of the art, all in a limited space. Oh and it's fairly expensive and if I mess up then I can ruin the entire piece. It's fairly toxic too so I hope the respirator that I use will prevent me from getting cancer.

Do you have any pre-painting rituals?

I usually have a big meal with lots of coffee or tea to keep me painting for several hours.


Do you listen to music while painting? if so, what's your ultimate art making playlist?

Definitely.  My Pandora thumbprint radio is on point. It's an eclectic mix of punk, '90s, hip-hop and alternative music --  all upbeat and fast-paced to keep me moving.

How different has it been as an artist, working in an art gallery and frame shop?

It is quite different. Each job uses a different skill set. Being around art all the time definitely inspires me to keep creating. Working on the gallery floor, I have the chance to interact with potential clients on a personal level, and hearing positive feedback also helps!

What's your favorite piece you've ever made?

It's really difficult to choose just one favorite .I like so many for different reasons. Some pieces I've spent countless hours to complete, and others were more spontaneous and whimsical. each piece has a memory of a struggle or challenge that was overcome. I guess if I had to choose one it would be a drawing of my boot on a record with a guitar in the background, which were objects that represented me at the time-a-self- portrait. A traumatic event happened when I was working on that piece, so there are a lot of emotions tied to that drawing.

Which medium do you prefer and why, painting or drawing?

Painting because it is less restrictive and I like working with color and texture. Plus if I mess up, I can always paint over it.

Drawing is a lot less forgiving!