Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 9.38.14 pmI fell in love with Amanda Blake’s poetic paintings three years ago.  I lived in Maketu, New Zealand and she lived in Morgantown, West Virginia. It was Facebook, that juggernaut of serendipitous chance social encounters, that brought me into her orbit.

Each of her oil paintings that appeared in my newsfeed featured a character in the centre of a mystical narrative.  What caught my eye was the dreamy, colourful interaction between the figure and nature – a kind of ‘soulscape’ meets landscape.

What tugged at my heart was the folksy, fabled sense of the richness of the inner life, the curious sense of the extraordinary aliveness within each ordinary soul.

Kathryn Overall

Her characters all seemed to speak to their surroundings in mystical, powerful and authentic ways.  Some inner presence in her paintings always made me catch my breath, lean in closer and make me pay more attention to the tapestry of symbolism and narrative always weaving below the shallow surfaces of my life.

everything was as it should be

‘Everything was as it should be’ | Amanda Blake

Amanda does in painting what my favourite authors do in books and what I try to do in my songs.  She makes the inner richness of things visible.

I whispered to myself that if I ever did an album, I would commission Amanda Blake to do a painting for the album cover. As my hypothetical album became ‘Not All the Leaves Are Falling’,  I messaged Amanda and crossed all my fingers and toes that she would say yes. It was such a happy day for me when she did!

I emailed her some early mixes of songs, wrote down my musings about what  I was trying to express, and left her to do her thing. I got to watch the process in action as ‘Not All the Leaves Are Falling’ took shape in sketches and then in colour, until at the end of the process this beautiful 10inch oil painting on wooden canvas arrived after it’s intrepid journey from the other side of the world.


My beloved painting lives on an antique table under my bookshelf in my bedroom.  I love the autumnal palette, the contemplative air, the depth and beauty, the soul space, the hand reaching out to catch the falling leaf, the female figure who is both me and not me (though I made sure she had my new hair-cut!).  Every time I see the album artwork I feel a sense of deep contentment, the satisfaction of vicarious expression.


I was intrigued to know more about Amanda and am delighted to be able to share this conversation with you, giving some fascinating insights into this woman who knew she wanted to be an artist from the time she was three years old.

A Conversation with Amanda Blake 

Amanda, what place did painting and art have in your childhood?


I was about three years old when I decided I wanted to be an artist.  My parents are artists so it was always a huge part of my life. One of my first memories is of playing under the table my mom was using to sell stuffed animals at craft shows. Later she worked in clay and when I was older I’d help paint ornaments for spending money. For as long as I can remember drawing was my favourite activity. I spent hours and hours drawing mice in ball gowns when I was little.

At what point did you decide to make art your full time gig?

I briefly convinced myself to try for a more serious career and switched majors again and again while in college – psychology, art history, French, graphic design – but once I discovered painting a couple years in that was all I wanted to do. When I graduated university I went to a summer intensive painting program in Chautauqua, New York.  While there I sold my first paintings out of my studio and knew I could make it happen. It took a few years of working at coffee shops and restaurants before I decided to make the leap and do it full time. It’s not an easy job but I can’t imagine ever doing anything else.

How do you describe your own art style?

The paintings that speak to me the most are those of the early renaissance, post Impressionism and abstract expressionism. I try to incorporate everything I love about painting in to a voice that is mine – try not to follow any particular movement.  When I have to quickly describe my work I always say it’s narrative work with imagined figures inspired by superstition and the early renaissance. It doesn’t quite sum up what I’m doing but gives a feeling for it I think.

'She would find answers in the dark' | Amanda Blake

‘She would find answers in the dark’ | Amanda Blake

I have always been drawn to the visual portrayal of ‘soul essence’ in your paintings. Where does this come from?

My primary goal with my work has always been to create something that the viewer will feel an emotional connection to.  I spend a lot of time thinking about what it is that draws someone to a piece of art and try to capture that in my work.  I read a lot about superstition and symbolism and much of my work comes from that – I feel like they are a shorthand for the themes that interest me of people searching for meaning and answers in life.  I feel like that is what all art is really about when it come down to it – making order out of chaos, beauty out of nothing, trying to find meaning when there may or may not be one. I want people to look at my work and feel this understanding, feel like it’s familiar. I’m constantly searching for the right balance between specific and vague – find that place where people can see my intentions and still have room to create their own stories.

'The stars would lead them home' | Amanda Blake

‘The stars would lead them home’ | Amanda Blake

I read a lot about superstition and symbolism and much of my work comes from that. I feel like they are a shorthand for the themes that interest me, of people searching for meaning and answers in life.

There is a dreamlike quality to your art. Do you  pay attention to your own dreams?

Aside from a couple pieces that I’ve done over the years that have referenced specific dreams (I had a recurring dream for years that stopped after I painted it), I’m more interested in a dream like quality than specific dreams. I’m always conscious of my medium and want to be true to it. With painting you can create whatever you’d like, there’s no tie to reality so creating reality just doesn’t interest me, I want to do things I can only do with paint.

What do you value about being an artist?  

Mostly that I’m doing exactly what I want to do. I feel so lucky to be doing what I’ve done since I was a small child and still love it more than I can explain. It is something I get entirely lost in and can’t imagine doing anything else. That there are people all over the world that have connected with my work is amazing, beyond something I could have imagined.

Being an artist has also been so great for me in the day to day aspects of life. While the stress of no set pay check can be intense the flexibility makes up for so much. That I can have my children home with me and can move around the country for my husband’s job have made my life so much easier in so many ways.

'Elise took the night from the sky' | Amanda Blake

‘Elise took the night from the sky’ | Amanda Blake

Could you tell me a little bit about the process of painting ‘Not All the Leaves Are Falling’?

I was interested in the idea of capturing the hope and the peacefulness of the ‘Not All the Leaves Are Falling’ song.  It’s good luck to catch falling leaves and there’s something so lovely to me about just standing there waiting for nature to bring you luck.

What else do you do? 

I have three children – two girls, 3 and 8 and a boy, 11. I’m with at least one of them pretty much any time I’m not painting (and usually when I am painting as well).

Best places for people to find you online?

My etsy shop is As for social media I love Instagram and post on there most days  at



Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 10.16.08 pm