SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - Inside McGregor’s Garden in Shreveport you’ll find holiday cheer, handmade jellies — and Erin Leeper.
If you told her she would become an artist at the age of 61, she probably would have laughed.
“I took an art class my freshman year of college, and I hated it so much I dropped it before midterms," she said.
But decades later the Shreveport native decided to pick up a brush and paint a small picture for her sister’s birthday. However, instead of getting to its intended destination, that picture ended up in the hands of Angel Pou, the owner of McGregor’s Garden.
“She shipped Val a painting that was supposedly for Val’s birthday,” she said. “Well I didn’t realize that and I opened it up and I thought it was for me and I was so excited because it was fantastic.”
That encouragement soon pushed an untrained, self-taught artist into the world of art.
For the next five years, she’s created her own renditions of Catholic prayer cards, giving each one a unique joyful look.
“It’s really important to me in my work to portray the angels, the saints, Jesus, Mary and Joseph as happy joyful beings because I really believe that they were,” Leeper said.
But as Leeper continues her journey as a religious artist — she admits it’s still hard to hear the criticism.
“I think that especially with religion and spirituality everybody has sort of like this idea in their head of what they believe and what they feel like is correct in the way everyone should feel,” she said.
Luckily, the store that helped push her is now one of her most loyal distributors.
“Shreveport has a love of all things spiritual in my opinion and we always sell things that relate to the Catholic Church and to spirituality, but I just loved her," said Pou. "I loved her work.”
So Leeper is back in town to paint, meet locals, and hopefully encourage others with a little bit of God’s grace.
“If I can inspire anyone women at this age and say look if I can do this you can too,” she said. “But if you’re truly ready and willing to do that I believe that the inspiration and the opportunities will present themselves.”
Leeper will be in town for the next couple of days painting inside Gregor’s McGarden.