New Orleans native Christian J. LeBlanc has been enjoying a lot of Southern living lately. This January, he sailed on the Soap Cruise from Miami to Key West, FL and Cozumel, Mexico. He’s soon returning to his hometown, where his artwork will be on display on March 6 in New Orleans’s famed Jean Bragg Gallery Of Southern Art. He’ll then be emceeing the Bayou Junior Woman’s Club 14th Annual Mad Hatters Luncheon in Thibodaux, LA, on March 14. Digest caught up with the busy star, who gave us the dish on his latest off-screen adventures.Soap Opera Digest: Hello, Christian! First up, how was the Soap Cruise?
Christian J. LeBlanc: It was wonderful! I usually take trips that are a little bit more adventurous and I’m constantly doing things, but when you’re on a ship, you’re forced to just relaxed. I had a beautiful room and sat out on my terrace and watched the sun set. I went swimming with dolphins. I met so many amazing fans. Yes, it was work because it was a fan appearance, but I had so much fun.
Digest: And then you’re back in the South again for the Mad Hatters event. What is that?
LeBlanc: This is one of the things I do regularly and it’s such a beautiful time. Everyone dresses up in their bonnets and the proceeds go toward charity. It’s going to be a nursing scholarship in my mother’s name [Alice LeBlanc] because they all knew her. I’ve been doing this for years, and my family comes out for it. It’s like Steel Magnolias; all of the ladies wear their hats and the men serve as bartenders. There are auctions and then there’s the judging of the hats. It’s so much fun. Those people get those fourth mimosas in them and they’re a crowd to be reckoned with [laughs]. It’s the heart of cajun country and it’s a wonderful time. I’ve been doing it for years.
Digest: Do you wear a crazy hat?
LeBlanc: Yes, I do! I wear this massive, embarrassing Mad Hatter’s hat. It’s this enormous blue top hat. But before that, I have my gallery opening.
Digest: What are you displaying?
LeBlanc: I’m doing at least five drawings for it — children’s art. My medium is colored pencils, pen and ink, which is great because you can blend and shade, and it looks like water colors — except there are no [paint] strokes. I’m self-taught and use everything I’ve ever learned. For instance, if I draw a duck, I pay attention to all of the different ways that a duck would move so I can make it look realistic. It’s a lot of work, but I’m developing my own technique.
Digest: Are you nervous about having it displayed it your home town?
LeBlanc: Definitely! I have a lot of family coming in, so there’s a lot of pressure to do well in front of the relatives, but I’m excited, too. I can’t wait to see how they’re actually displayed and what my work looks like as an exhibit. I’ve sold pieces already, but if I want to take my art seriously, this is one of the steps — getting your home town to display it. Plus, I want to show off my city and get people down there, especially since it’s improved so much since Katrina. There’s still so much to see.
For more information on the Jean Bragg Gallery, head to www.jeanbragg.com. The Mad Hatters event is Sunday, March 14, 10:30 a.m., at the Nicholls State University Ballroom in Thibodaux, LA.