Leah Nadeau is a Detroit-born contemporary fine artist living in the Seattle Metropolitan area. Nadeau’s vibrant artworks combine geometric abstraction, energetic color stories, loose brushstrokes, and clean linework. Her work is inspired by travel, architecture, her film studies, and time periods in culture and design such as the German Expressionist Movement, the Art Deco Movement, and the Mid-Century Modern Era.
In 2006, Nadeau’s travels prompted her to purchase a sketchbook for the first time, beginning a transformative journey into art. In these early moments of her career, Nadeau’s skills for discernment and visual memory became finely tuned, utilizing industry, architecture, and design influences to sketch. Realizing that not every person is drawn to the same specific visual stimuli, she began incorporating these distinctions into her work– commentary on the imagery we consume. Her education as a film student gives her a unique perspective: the ability to view the world from the outside in, as if watching characters interact in the storyscapes she creates with paint. Years of painting have only clarified this vision.
Known for bright, saturated colors, highly textured paintings, linework, and vivid shapes, Nadeau's work challenges the ways we see and interpret the world. Nadeau’s paintings “Electric Circus” 1 & 2 were purchased by Henry Ford Health and are on permanent display at the Detroit located Cancer Institute. Neighboring works in the same building include original artworks by Vincent Van Gogh, and Henri Matisse.
She has sold an over 200 pieces of original art direct to buyers, an impressive feat early in her career. Her solo exhibitions at Great Lakes Coffee Co. in 2019 and Brewery Faisan in 2020 were met with universal praise. When in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, you can stop by the local streets to find her outdoor public artwork display, “Art From My Heart”, a four-foot painted heart installation.
Nadeau’s distinctive paintings incorporate her authenticity and innovation, themes which stay with her Collectors long after they first view her paintings.
Bachelor of Arts, University of San Francisco (2013)
Master of Arts, Aberystwyth University (2015)
I work in multiple series which encompass my signature style and distinctive marks. I make a point to always start with black paint as a bottom layer on any substrate. As a starting point, the wild black marks remind me to continue to be bold as I create. After incorporating layers of bright colors, I work in broad brushstrokes and slowly add in, as a final layer, the clear, intentional linework for which I’m known for. My art is strongly influenced by industry, architecture, and design. My multiple bodies of work each render this influence in a unique way.
My Art Deco-inspired artworks feature curving lines, clean angles, sweeping color, and imagery reflected in industry and design from the 1920s. The Irving Collection, works inspired by my relationship with my beloved Grandfather, also incorporates the Art Deco design aesthetic.
Aerial imagery, real and imagined, influences my brushstrokes. My continued fascination with linework and shapes can be directly attributed to sitting in the window seat on planes as a child and looking out at the vast marks on the earth from above. This is especially evident in my “Cityscape and Landscape” inspired series of work.
I’m best known for my Mid-Century Modern inspired paintings, which incorporate distinctive shapes, color-blocking, and vibrant color combinations reminiscent of the mid-20th century. Artworks in this series and body of work are often my most highly-sought after.
Perhaps the most consistent, quiet influence on my art has been my background as a film student. In graduate school, I was introduced to German Expressionist films such as, “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” and “Metropolis”. The intentional distortion in visual stimuli, high contrast, and the emphasis on what can and cannot be seen became a catalyst in my work which remains identifiable to this day.
I yearn to create work which beckons the viewer back time and time again. I want my paintings to reflect and inspire people to embrace their whole selves. My vivid color stories reflect the independence and vibrance of stories meant to be told paired with stillness and strength in shape and lines.
Photos taken by Olivia McKay