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UW Student and Local Artist Contributes to Gill Street Mural Extension

Seth Leininger is a local musician and artist who is painting two fish for the Gill Street mural downtown. He is a Geology major at the University of Wyoming with a minor in painting and anthropology. (Photo by Abbey Williams)

For UW student, local artist and musician Seth Leininger, art is an everyday part of his life. Whether it’s creating the psychedelic sounds as a guitarist in the local band Elk Tongue or painting his own pieces for sale, Leininger is involved in art in many ways. His latest project requires a larger canvas: the Gill Street mural.

Tucked in the alleyway behind Coal Creek Coffee downtown is the continuation of the fish mural and its extension has just begun. Leininger is one of the fourteen total artists that gets to contribute his work to the brick buildings of downtown Laramie with two fish he designed on his own.

The sketch for the Gill Street project. Photo courtesy of the This Is Laramie Facebook Page

One fish is a geometric triangle fish and the other is a cloud fish. All of the fish on the mural are supposed to be trout, Leininger said.

“For the cloud fish, I had done a painting last year that was kind of like an anglerfish except he was made out of clouds so that was like my first thought when I was thinking about what to do for this, it was like- cloud fish,” Leininger said. “Basically, I just like [went] off of my own personal art style, same with like the geometric triangle fish, like a lot of my paintings have geometric triangles or just geometric stuff in them so that was the second thing I thought of.”

Leininger said he likes surreal art, which is the idea of taking something real and portraying it in a way that isn’t real.

“I didn’t really want to make mine look very real, I wanted mine to look kind of strange because my favorite ones on the old Gill St. mural are the surreal ones, one that’s made out of wood and one that’s made out of a kite,” Leininger said.

As for the colors, Leininger is using some of the gradients in an actual trout for the triangle fish and some inspiration from Wyoming skies for his cloud fish.

“The actual gradients of those colors are in an actual trout so I tried to find a yellow and then there will be kind of like a turquoise color which is like the last kind of color I will be doing so it will be like a red, a turquoise and a yellow and then two lighter colors of each one of those,” Leininger said about his geometric fish. “The cloud one is just going to kind of be looking like a sunset cloud, kind of like purple to peachy orange type colors and that’s just Wyoming sunset I think. I’m excited to do that one, it’s going to be a lot easier than this one [the geometric fish].”

Leininger’s process for creating the fish is all freehand work and has so far been a three week process, with hopes to have both fish completed by the first or second week of October, he said. Leininger said the deadline for the mural’s completion is May of 2018.

“I’ve been having to use seriously just a tiny little brush to do all the linework because I first tried taping it all off and then painting like that, but all the paint was running underneath all the tape and stuff cause that wall is just brick,” Leininger said. “It’s super porous, so I’m just having to do it very meticulously. I am probably about two-thirds done with the triangle fish right now, I’ve already put in about 12 hours and I bet I have another eight or ten hours left on it and then probably a good 20 to 25 hours on the cloud one as well.”

The geometric fish for the Gill Street mural extension. The fish is entirely freehand. (Photo by Abbey Williams)

The outline for the cloud fish. Leininger hopes to be done with both his fish by the first or second week of October. (Photo by Abbey Williams)

Leininger has been an artist for quite some time. He said he always doodled throughout junior high and high school, but after meeting some friends who were interested in painting, he developed more as an artist.

“It was me and two other guys and the two other guys, they had already developed themselves as painters but they taught me a lot just about painting and color and everything like that,” he said. “I had always wanted to do it so that was kind my way into it. I started at LCCC when I was like 20 or 21 and I took Painting I and Painting II through them which helped me and Drawing I and really, I’ve just been painting ever since.”

Leininger is inspired by various artists, including Mario Martinez, Salvador Dali and Max Ernst. He enjoys surreal, visual art, scenes from the mind and “weird, surreal landscapes.”

“Definitely a lot of my stuff involves mountains,” Leininger said. “I always kind of incorporate mountains and that’s always just a love of mine I think, kind of just very strange things from my brain.  A lot of times I don’t really know what I’m going to do, sometimes I do and I’ll kind of sketch it out and I’ll do everything I need to but a lot of times, I’ll just sit down and kind of start going and it will all just start developing on its own.”

After a recent trip to Japan this August, Leininger mentioned the mountains there and how his trip will probably inspire his art in the future.

“There was this Buddhist museum that we went to that showed all the different hells and heavens you could go to and the afterlife and they were all artworks from the last couple thousand years and that was like really, really amazing,” Leininger said. “I haven’t really been able to sit down and kind of work out what I’d like to do with some of the stuff I saw but I would definitely say that [it will inspire me].”

As for why he loves art so much, Leininger said it’s “the best thing that humans do.” He said he loves creating beautiful things and art allows him to do so.

When it comes to advice to share with other artists, he said it’s all about practice.

“Do it every day, don’t stop,” Leininger said. “There is this graphic designer that I follow, beeple_crap is his name, or his handle, I can’t remember what his actual name is, but he’s been doing something every day for ten years now. No matter what’s happening during his day, he even did a piece, it was a short, tiny, simple one but on the day that his son was born.”

Leininger stresses that anyone can create art and it just takes time to develop.

“There’s the misconception, like I hate when people say that they can’t do art or they can’t play music because I didn’t know how to do art and I didn’t know how to play music when I first started and I definitely feel like I’ve developed myself pretty well,” Leininger said. “Basically, anybody can do it, anybody can do most things. Maybe most people can’t be professional athletes, there’s a lot of things that you can’t do but there are also a lot of things that a human can do.”

As for his future with his personal art, Leininger said he plans to show his pieces again at the beginning of next year, once he rebuilds his collection. Leininger will always take commissions and most everything on his Instagram are for sale. To see or purchase any of his art, you can contact him on Instagram, @mantisgrove or via his email, [email protected].

Abbey is a senior at the University of Wyoming and is currently majoring in Journalism. She couldn't imagine a world without Jesus, coffee, The 1975, Twitter or her family. You'll usually find her at a concert or cafe somewhere, which is where she spends majority of her free-time. Talking to band members after their shows is a hobby, along with thrifting & indulging in all aspects of pop culture. After college, she plans to spend more time at concerts, getting paid to write about music and bands.
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