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Leo du Feu

ECA graduate and artist Leo du Feu talks about his time studying in Edinburgh, his first experience of the after-college world and how how important it is to understand the business side of being an artist.

Name Leo du Feu
Degree Course BA (Honours) Drawing & Painting
Year of Graduation 2006

Your time at the University

Leo du Feu

Born in Edinburgh and brought up in nearby Linlithgow I've always known and loved the city. I hoped to go to art college but didn't want to go far from home. I attended an ECA summer school and absolutely loved it. My eyes were opened to what an exciting place it was and what an inspiring building it was to be in.

The first year is especially exciting as you get to try out lots of different departments. Initially I'd imagined I'd specialise in photography but as my first year drew to a close it became a tough decision between painting and... jewellery! Painting won.

It was great to be surrounded by fellow artists, so much visual stimulation all around you. I loved learning of past artists and art movements in lectures, and hours spent in the library, absorbing the works of lots of artists I previously hadn't known.

 

I loved early mornings working quietly in the studio before others were around, or working late into the evening, watching the lights of Edinburgh city and Castle gradually come on as the sky darkened.

Leo du Feu

My first experience of the after-college world came in my final year when I started exhibiting a few paintings in my local gallery in Linlithgow. And of course, the Degree Show - for me a great experience. I made sure I manned my space all day every day and had lots of interesting conversations and made lots of really useful contacts. And sold quite a decent number of paintings!

Tell us about your Experiences since leaving the University

My art has let me meet so many lovely and fascinating people and taken me to many interesting places. It's a priviledge to be able to devote my life to what I love.

Leo du Feu

I've been painting full time since leaving college. It involves a lot more than just painting - the 'business' side probably takes up 50% of my time. I'm not making a full living by any means, but moving back home for several years, and even now still having my studio in my dad's Linlithgow home, makes it possible for me to be an artist full time.

Straight after graduating I won a commission to paint four giant canvases for UK Astronomy Tecnology Centre at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh. It was good to be thrown into the deep end like this, so that I kept working at my art as soon as I left college.

I have travelled to Orkney and Canada thanks to travel scholarships from the RSW (Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour) and ROSL (Royal Over-Seas League) and have published my Canadian sketches in a book.

ScotRail are providing invaluable support to my ongoing project exploring Scotland by rail. I exhibit in galleries around the country and in October 2013 will have a solo show at the RGI Kelly Gallery in Glasgow alongside the launch of my new book of sketches, paintings and writings - Landscapes and Birds of Scotland.

Over the past year I have been getting involved in Art in Healthcare, a very worthwhile Edinburgh-based charity which, among other duties, provides many of the artworks on the walls of our Scottish hospitals. Running workshops for Art in Healthcare has been enjoyable and educational. I've worked in settings as varied as the Sick Kids Hospital, St Crispins School for children with severe learning difficulties, and an older mens group.

Alumni wisdom

I've learned how important it is to work really hard on the business side of being an artist as well as on the creating side. Unfortunately the ideal of wealthy patrons coming knocking on your studio door just doesn't happen very often. So take an interest in people and places and get involved in projects. Speak to galleries and to artists further on in their careers and consider what they tell you.

If you have an idea or an ambition - pursue it fully! That's how lots of my successes have come about. And the hard work does pays off - seven years after graduating I'm finally starting to notice that people sometimes come looking for me, to commission a painting or to host an exhibition, rather than me having to seek them out.

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