Southeast Missouri artist discusses paintings at Nature Center

Monday, July 14, 2008
Artist Michael Landeros spoke Tuesday during a sitting with more than 20 people Tuesday for Conservation Cafe at the Nature Center in Cape Girardeau. Kit Doyle kdoyle@semissourian.com

The educational classrooms at the Cape Girardeau Conservation Campus Nature Center seemed more like a cafe Tuesday night as Michael Landeros, an artist and Southeast Missouri native, presented some of his work.

April Dozier, the director of the Nature Center, said the Conservation Cafe event has been held for about two years. She said Landeros had a gallery showing in June and a painting demonstration at Nature in the Arts, held the first Saturday in October.

"This is when we invite artists or musicians to do demonstrations. We've had chalk art, wildflower arranging, painting and more. We encourage artists or musicians to know that nature is another good way to learn about art," Dozier said.

Kelly Hughes hosted the interview with the artist. The audience listened and enjoyed coffee and treats while surrounded by Landeros' wildlife paintings. Both Hughes and the audience asked questions during the event.

Landeros has always spent a lot of time outdoors. He spent time hunting and fishing until his children were born. "The whole family is outdoor oriented," he said.

One of his favorite spots is Norfolk Lake, Ark., but "the ultimate resource for my paintings is right here. I can walk out the door and get what I need," he said. "You'd be surprised with what we've got right here."

Landeros' work, displayed on easels, was arranged in a semicircle around the room. Subjects included a bobcat on a limb and mother duck with her brood.

Becoming an artist

Landeros spent his formative years living in Chaffee, Mo. His career as an artist, which began when he was 19, ranges from wildlife to sports images, and from book covers and CDs to wood carving.

The mainly self-taught artist had some instruction from his father, who was also an artist. "My dad introduced me to water color when I was about 7. I don't recall using it after that," Landeros said. Four years later, his father was killed when hit by a drunken driver. "It was at a part of my life where I could have gone either way. I chose to make something positive out of it."

Landeros attended Southeast Missouri State University for about a year when he was presented with an opportunity to work for a book cover company, Creative Label. His seven years of employment there included designing Danielle Steele and Steven King book covers.

Landeros started his own business, Sculptured Impressions, in 1995. He makes embossed dies for enhanced printing, giving packaging and book covers three dimensions.

Starting to paint

In 2007, Landeros' aunt described to the Missouri Arts Council executive director how talented her nephew was. "The thing was, I had no paintings," Landeros said. He'd been doing book covers and hadn't completed any paintings. "It was in 2007 that I started seriously painting."

In August 2007, Landeros displayed his paintings of wildlife at the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri. It was the catalyst for him to start painting again. He said he finds painting more rewarding. "If I could only do painting I would do it," he said.

Now, his days are spent working in his Benton, Mo., shop. "In the summer I do research. I'm active in youth baseball and softball. Winter is when I do most of my painting. After my kids go to bed I'm up until 1 or 2 a.m. painting at home."

Landeros was commissioned by Southeast to do two paintings. One is a painting of Albert Pujols that will used for the Oct. 24 Joe Uhls golf tournament, a fundraiser for the Southeast baseball team. The other is a gift for an undisclosed guest speaker at the auction. The painting is of Ty Cobb and Al Kaline.

Landeros said creating portraits takes longer, and he feels there's not as much creativity involved as when he composes wildlife paintings. "You can find a picture of Pujols and just make it look like him," he said. Wildlife compositions force Landeros to determine what the image is and render it with details from his own research. "Wildlife is a bigger challenge. You need to create the mood and atmosphere and put it all together," he said. A detail-oriented artist, Landeros said portraiture takes longer because he strives to include skin texture and even hairs and perspiration on the face.

Landeros said the natural world is an inspiration for him. He said he hopes to express to those who view his paintings that everything beautiful.

"There are just so many things you don't see until someone puts it in a painting," he said. "It's important to appreciate what we've got, and if it helps to put it in a painting I will."

Upcoming events include a show in September at the Sikeston Depot Museum in Sikeston, Mo. For more information, call 573-481-9967.

To see more of Landeros' work, visit www.landerosgallery.com.

cpagano@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 133

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