Here at House of Coco, getting lost in art is more important to us now than ever. With everything that is going on in the world, we all need some escapism. Whether that’s day dreaming about what destination you will escape to (when we can) or checking out the latest works of your favourite artist.

With the latter, we recently stumbled across Kathy Leeds. Not only did I love her surname (I’m from Leeds, call me biased) but her work mesmerised me. Kathy Leeds began painting when she envisioned a particular painting for her own home and decided to do it herself. The piece is an image of her own wooden bowl filled with red apples that symbolized the essence of home to her. Kathy currently works in her home studio in Los Angeles, which she shares with her husband, the sculptor, David Leeds.

We spent some time with her to find out more…

Tell us about the journey that lead you to launching your career

I was an interior and architectural designer for a number of years. I decided to do a painting for my own home, which was a bowl of apples. I never looked back or stopped painting since then. Bowls of fruit have been a recurring theme in my work.

Your Husband is a sculptor, making you a very creative couple. Do you ever collaborate?

No collaboration but we do critique each other’s work in progress and help solve perceived problems when stuck with a piece. My husband serves a very important role for me, which is to stop me from overworking a painting, which is crucial.

Over the years your work has gone through a transition, can you tell me more about this?

I think most artists transition during their career, to keep exploring, to keep things fresh, to spark your creativity. After many years of “magical realism” inspired by my love of Latin American art, I started painting directly from life. Previously, all my narrative compositions were painted from images in my head. However, I did always keep returning to still life, in various forms, which is a reflection of my somewhat introverted personality, I think. I’ve now incorporated both styles. I start with specific reference objects than make compositions from my head, not looking at any object directly, while painting.

Talk us through the average day in your life?

I wake up very early, often take a hike in the Santa Monica mountains with my husband and our dogs, come home and work. We go out to lunch daily to the Brentwood Country Mart, which is close to our home, we know the shopkeepers, have some interaction with people, which is important for people who work in a solitary way. We both love to wander in our local bookstore there after lunch.

Our readers love to travel, what destination is at the top of your bucket list?

I’ve traveled fairly extensively, and have already done my bucket list trip which was an incredible journey with my husband to East Africa. I always dream about going back. We both love swimming in the ocean. Lately, we go to Capri every summer, which we will miss this year, obviously, but I’m already looking forward to our summer visit in 2021.

What do you do when you’re lacking creativity?

I take some time off, try not to pressure myself, and often change medium. Most recently I turned to collage, which then led to the style of work I’m currently doing.

What does self care mean to you?

Many people view creating art as a hobby, not a career.
I’d say setting boundaries and not having qualms about saying “no, I can’t”. I need to be diligent about the hours a day I put into my work, and being in my studio. This is something I’ve worked on for years, and not just for my art.

Looking back over your career, which moment stands out as a highlight?

I turned to abstract painting about eight years ago to shake things up in my work. I created a series of paintings that were shown at Art Basel, Miami, which was very exciting. However, I never painted another abstract painting after that.

For any aspiring artists and painters, what advice would you offer them in order to building a successful and profitable brand?

To stay true to yourself, and to not think about “what’s saleable” when painting. It rarely works, and it inhibits the artist’s inner self, from coming through in their work. Also, do not be afraid to fail. All artists, no matter how accomplished, do many pieces that just don’t work.

How much does social media play a role in your company?

The art world has changed. Brick and mortar galleries are closing at rapid rate. Although I do “show” with Runaway Art, which is an online art gallery in the UK, I sell the majority of my work on Instagram. So social media is huge.

Outside of work, what do you do for fun?

Being with my family and friends, hiking, biking, cooking, and reading.

With the current pandemic, the world needs more art. How has Covid19 affected your day to day business?

In hard economic times, art sales are one of the first things to be dropped, which I understand. It’s a luxury. One of the reasons my work sells well, is that I avoid a middle man, and sell directly so that I can keep my price point reasonable.

Kathy, we hope you continue to flourish and creating your work to inspire us all. Be sure to follow her here

Photo credit : Jeffrey Sklan


Northern girl Laura is the epitome of a true entrepreneur. Laura’s spirit for adventure and passion for people blaze through House of Coco. She founded House of Coco in 2014 and has grown it in to an internationally recognised brand whilst having a lot of fun along the way. Travel is in her DNA and she is a true visionary and a global citizen.

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