It’s difficult for me to write anything that’s not from my heart. When I was asked to write a story on Ms. Leisa Collins and her coffee table book, Hand Painted Homes: An Artist’s Pen and Watercolor Journey Across America, I needed to do my research first.
In no time at all, I knew I had to jump at the opportunity. I respect Collins’ appreciation for the things a lot of people tend to ignore or forget about. This alone inspired me to write her story. Allow me to invite you into the heart of passion, creativity, history, and labor of love.
Many architecturally enticing structures are becoming extinct. Lack of funds, time, care, and passion are all playing a part in their demise. With hundreds of historical homes being torn down every week in the United States, Collins felt the intense inspiration to capture the diverse architectural world of America.
Collins incorporated her love for travel and painting and embarked on a journey across all 50 states to document the value of old homes before they are demolished and forgotten. Her book includes a chapter on the quintessential Colorado log home. Something that in our colorful state has never gone out of style.
I learned that log homes are said to be 15% more energy-efficient and tend to be more environmentally friendly when compared to conventional homes. Collins shares that Colorado reminds her of her home country, New Zealand, where she learned to paint. This has always contributed to her spiritual bond with the Rocky Mountains.
“It is my dream to someday retire and live in a log cabin in Colorado!” I think this is true for many people who find a connection with our majestic Rocky Mountains. Log cabins in the Americas were built by emigrants from Sweden and Finland; countries that have constructed log cabins for thousands of years.
From 1858 through the 1930s, early settlers in the forested areas of Colorado built houses, barns, and meeting places out of logs. Log style architecture gained further popularity in the early 1900s when the US Park Service began constructing log visitor facilities, lodges, and shelters all over the USA.
These are some of the fun facts Collins incorporates while journaling about historical structures. Her way of giving back was by establishing the Leisa Collins Historic Preservation Award in 2013. Throughout her travels, she regularly gives awards to stellar individuals who “save historic homes from the wrecking ball and transform them to their original glory.”
Aside from including the local community, city officials, and preservation leaders in the process of honoring the awardees, the award itself is the original painting of the restored home or building. What a special way to acknowledge a person’s hard work.
Passion projects take an enormous amount of time and dedication. Those of us who have worked on one or are working on one know the depth it takes to complete one. From one artist to another, cheers to you Collins for following your heart, for the countless hours of painting, a few late nights, and your keen eye for beauty.
To find out more about Leisa Collins Art, check out the website at leisacollins.com/, call 703-598-7360 or send correspondence to Leisa Collins, 923 Blodgett Street SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 49506