Sketching history into a new life on St. Asaph

Sketching history into a new life on St. Asaph

After relocating to Old Town Alexandria three months ago, artist Leisa Collins noticed a lack of young people involved in the historic and restoration movement and decided to do something about it.  

Last week she held the first of a series of free art workshops, Bringing History Alive Through Art. She helped a team of children to paint their first house portrait of an Old Town historic building.

Collins herself specializes in historic Old Town and has now painted 30 homes or hidden garden originals as part of her series: The Faces and Homes of Historic Old Town Alexandria Connecting the Past with the Present. She showcased her series and also celebrated the opening of her new studio early last month.

The children, who ranged from age 8 to 12, first learned historical tidbits about buildings in the 100 block of North Alfred Street. Then, under the supervision of Collins, they set about creating their own painting of a selected building. Collins chose this block because it was near her studio and it served as a secondary place for the children to complete their art pieces and escape the sweltering sun.  

Each child not only walked away with a piece of art they are proud of, said Collins, but they also gained a greater appreciation of the architecture of the past and got to see how it relates to the present. 

All completed art will now be exhibited on an online gallery for kids that Collins created to give a forum to youth to display their works. 

Said Collins, In talking to youth today, most have the idea that history is a very dead and boring subject. But it doesnt have to be this way. I believe that art is a powerful catalyst in bringing things to life . thats why Im doing this.  

A native of New Zealand, Collins took up her paintbrush and full-time art career eight months ago after two decades of activities that took her to the four corners of the globe. In that time she and her husband traveled a total of 25,000 road miles first across the USA and then all over New Zealand searching for the perfect place to live. They stumbled across Old Town after taking a wrong turn on Duke Street and ended up at the Potomac end of King Street and decided to make it their home.  

She can be contacted at