L’Deane Trueblood is a busy woman. Finding time for an interview was difficult because she was working on a new sculpture and needed to work out a problem: The eyes weren’t quite right and the feet were giving her trouble. At 86 she doesn’t have time to slow down.
L’Deane’s name came from her father. In an old love letter from to her mother, she read how he had picked out a name for a little girl. He wanted to use the “L” from his middle name, Lawson, and combine it with her mother’s maiden name of Dean. Adding an apostrophe the name became L’Deane. The “e” on the end was courtesy of L’Deane herself who added it in the first grade.
It was also in the first grade when her artistic talent was recognized. When she handed in papers she included drawings of people and dogs. The teacher would display her papers for everyone to enjoy . Soon everyone started to refer to her as, “an artist.” L’Deane says, “You live up to that.”
She was born and raised in Oklahoma, but it wasn’t until high school that she took, what she refers to as, real art classes. She went on to get a college degree in art and that is where she also discovered a passion for sculpture.
When she got married and started raising a family her art career took a back seat. She dabbled by making clay busts of her children and had some commissions to do busts of other children. She worked in her kitchen at night after her kids were all in bed. At that time she was working in fired clay.
Then in 1973 the family moved to Utah and she found a foundry near Brigham Young University that was casting in bronze. Her first bronze piece was of Jacob Hamblin on horseback. It was purchased by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for their museum of art and history.
In 1993 she was “discovered’ by the Meyer Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. “That is every artists aspiration,” she explains, “and they called me and wanted to represent me. It was kind of like hitting the jackpot.” The orders started coming fast and furious. Her work was featured in other galleries and she was getting so many invitations that she had to slow things down.
Her work is still featured at Meyer’s and her pieces still outsell any other artist. Vern Swanson of the Springville Museum named her one of the 100 most honored artists in Utah. She credits Utah as a great place to be an artist saying there is a great support for artists here going back to Brigham Young. He used to send artists and musicians to Europe to study and bring their knowledge back to Utah.
For L’Deane, her work is indeed work. “People often say to me, ‘Oh it must be so relaxing to do what you do.’ Here’s the good news: It’s about as relaxing as shoveling dirt, but once you get started you can’t quit. Making art is about 80% problem solving, the rest of lots of practice, just like digging post holes”.
Her overall favorite piece is one she did of soldiers entitled, “The Price of Freedom.” The work is displayed as a monument at the St. George cemetery, her current hometown, as well as cemeteries in South Jordan, Escalante and a city in Florida.
Known for her sculptures of children, her favorite is one of two children on a tricycle called “Hitching a Ride.” She modeled the children after her daughter, at age two, with her son driving.
L’Deane’s sculptures capture everyday moments frozen in time. Through facial expressions and natural compositions her bronze creations come to life.“Beach Party with Dreams”, is a sculpture of three children playing in the sand with buckets. It personifies the joy of childhood. And more than that it hints at future possibilities. Just like the artist herself, who still has more work to do and more art to bring to life.