We had the good fortune of connecting with ileyna Witenstein and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi ileyna, why did you pursue a creative career?
I feel most like my self when I am creating art and I wanted to keep that feeling in my career, too. In addition to being an artist, I am pursuing a career in art education. My high school art class was always my safe space. The encouragement and support from my high school art teacher gave me the confidence to pursue art in college. I hope to make that same positive impact on my future students!

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Throughout high school and college, I worked in several mediums and styles. I finally found my comfort with oil paints and portraiture. I often have trouble finding the right words to express myself through conversation and showing people my true self, but thats where my art comes in. I fully express myself and show who I am through my art. I am proud and excited about the journey that my art is taking me on. I want my audience to be able to relate to my work and have their own emotional experience. I feel a certain way when creating my work and I try to express a specific emotion, but I want my audience to interpret my art however it makes them feel. I have faced challenges in my life and still do today, just like many people. Without my challenges, I wouldn’t be able to create the art that I do. I’m very proud of the obstacles I have overcome that allows me to express myself through my art. My art explores emotions and psychology through portraiture. I’m inspired by the emotional world of both myself and others. My goal with my work is to share vulnerability and create an emotional connection with my audience. Art has always been my way of getting what I feel out of my head and on to paper. Being able to see what’s in my mind on a canvas has always been a special and sometimes unnerving feeling for me. I am showing my authentic self through my art.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Best Friend Itinerary AZ: Breakfast – Luci’s at the Orchard – Snooze – Daily Jam – Morning squeeze Lunch/ Dinner -Joy Ride -Shady Park – If we wanted a fancy dinner with cute and yummy desserts I would go to Seasons 52 -Picazzos is a great choice for gluten free options Bars -Valley bar is great for live music and fun games -Boondocks Patio & Grill has a nice variety of things to do such as games, dancing, living music, and chilling -Low Key Piano Bar so we can jam and watch some live music and cover songs. Also great for people watching Music -Tempe marketplace always has free concerts -BigRipple favorite local band! Shopping -Buffalo Exchange has great and trending finds and its more fun to thrift shop because it alway an adventure Art -The Phoenix Art Museum is a great place to wander a look at art! -First Friday’s downtown has the best people watching, food trucks, art and entertainment and the bars are walking distance! Active -there are so many great hikes in AZ -The hole in the rock is a short stroll with a nice look out -Phoenix Rock Gym -Sedona is my fav!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to give a shoutout to TAG (Teen Artist Guild), part of the Phoenix Center for the Arts, phoenixcenterforthearts.org! This organization was created to connect teen artists with professional artists and help teens navigate the art world. The Teen Artists Guild gives teens opportunities to create and learn together, show their work, really be a part of the thriving art community in Phoenix! I had my first sale at a TAG art show. Throughout high school I was a TAG member and I learned so much from the professionals at the Phoenix Center for Arts. For the past few years I’ve served as a mentor for TAG. Mentoring these teens has helped me find my passion for teaching. I love helping kids learn all of the life skills that come with being an artist….communication, focus, adapting, understanding criticism and always enjoying flow of your paint. Of course I have to give a huge shout out to Candice Stephens, my high school art teacher. I looked up to her as a student and I admire her even more as I learn from her every day as her student teacher.

Website: ileynaluart.com
Instagram: ileyna lu_art
Facebook: Art by ileyna Witenstein

Image Credits
Jeremiah Troller, Nadya Sanchez

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