Art Born from Observation

Shea Stanfield

Centuries ago, Roman philosopher and statesman Cicero wrote, “Art is born of the observation and investigation of nature.” One of the professions most intimately involved in the observation, study and preservation of nature is the veterinarian. Dr. Leea Arnold, artist and veterinarian, owns and operates a large equine reproduction facility in Weatherford, Texas, where they stand stallions, do equine reproduction, embryo transfer and ART (assisted reproductive techniques.) Her keen skills of observation and years of experience have evolved into stunning artistic creations in the form of organically designed jewelry pieces and impeccably accurate bronze animal sculptures.

Inspiration for Arnold’s work comes from nature. Photos courtesy of Leea Arnold

Born in Hugo, Okla. and growing up with a father who was a veterinarian, Arnold developed a keen interest in all animals, great and small, at an early age. Arnold attended undergraduate school at West Virginia University. She then followed in her father’s footsteps by going to veterinary school at Tuskegee University in Alabama, where she completed her degree program in 1989. She practiced in Arkansas for a couple of years before moving to Weatherford, Texas in 1991 to start her own equine business and practice. Since then, Arnold has purchased a home in Cave Creek.

Leea Arnold Photos courtesy of Leea Arnold

According to Arnold, “Art has always been an interest for me,” she said. “I dabbled with several mediums over the years, but it was not until four years ago when I took on an associate veterinarian in my practice that I had the time to devote to my creative side.” 

Early in her career, Arnold enrolled in drawing lessons with an equine artist named Marsha McDonald. This led to sculpting lessons with a local veterinarian named Scott Meyers in 1993, followed by workshops with a long list of the country’s finest western, wildlife and figurative artists. In 2007, Arnold developed her own jewelry designs and began creating her own jewelry. In an effort to expand her skills in jewelry making, she traveled to Scottsdale, where she enrolled in workshops at the Scottsdale Art School. Arnold fell in love with this small corner of the great Sonoran Desert. Cave Creek was a place she could stay close to the arts community and explore new facets of the Southwest.

Inspiration for Arnold’s work comes from nature around her home and in her travel destinations.

Arnold’s jewelry pieces are organically designed. Photos courtesy of Leea Arnold

“I work on much of my sculpture outside, from life, while looking at the animal if possible,” she said. “At times I use pictures in my studio if the animal is not available. I design my jewelry in my studio. In fact, I sculpted my sea turtle after a trip to Costa Rica to observe the hatching of the sea turtles.” 

Her recent travels to Italy were a source of great inspiration — the architecture, sculpture and great paintings. This resulted in several ideas for paintings, collage and sculptural pieces of her own. Arnold’s jewelry is unique because she combines the natural elements of the earth with polished stones, gems and fossil specimens she discovers at various gem and mineral shows around the country. The pieces are exceptionally eye-catching, both in design and combinations of textural elements.

From 2000 to 2015, Arnold was a member of a group called Canvas & Clay that held an annual art show at her Weatherford facility. Her jewelry is represented by Davis & Blevins in Saint Jo, Texas and has been represented by RS Hanna Gallery in Fredericksburg, Texas. Arnold is also a member of the Sonoran Arts League and participates in the annual Hidden in the Hills Studio Tour held the last two weekends in November in the Carefree and Cave Creek areas. For additional information or to view a selection of Arnold’s work, visit her website at www.leeaarnold.com.

Contact Arts Columnist Shea Stanfield on flowingquill@yahoo.com.