Grayslake artist's work making screen debut

  • Grayslake artist Leisa Corbett in her home studio at Prairie Crossing in Grayslake. Her work will likely appear in

    Grayslake artist Leisa Corbett in her home studio at Prairie Crossing in Grayslake. Her work will likely appear in "The Men Who Stare at Goats." Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Grayslake artist Leisa Corbett sold this print of

    Grayslake artist Leisa Corbett sold this print of "Combat Boots" for use in the upcoming star-studded movie "The Men Who Stare at Goats". Courtesy Leisa Corbett

Published: 11/5/2009 12:02 AM

In more than 20 years as an artist, Grayslake resident Leisa Corbett has shown her work in a variety of venues.

But on Friday, Nov. 6, her figurative canvas will expand exponentially.

Corbett's charcoal and pastel depiction of a pair of boots is expected to be hanging on an office wall in one scene of the upcoming movie "The Men Who Stare at Goats."

With big names including George Clooney, Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey, the star-studded comedy is about the military's attempts to harness psychic abilities for warfare.

About a year ago, someone associated with the production company saw the "Combat Boots" sketch on the Flickr photo-sharing Web site and contacted Corbett.

A suspicious Corbett said her doubts grew when she heard the name of the movie.

"They sent me an e-mail at first," Corbett recalls. "I wondered if it was some kind of con job. I thought that was crazy."

Fearing a scam, she asked to be paid upfront but had no idea how much that would or should be. After learning not to expect a bonanza, she grew more comfortable with the idea when a check for $186 arrived.

Her interest was solidified when she read about the movie in an entertainment magazine.

"I breathed a sigh of relief: 'This is a real movie,'" she said.

Now, Corbett likely is one of the most anxious moviegoers in America. When or if "Combat Boots" will appear is unknown.

"I won't know until I see the movie," said Corbett, who works from her Prairie Crossing home. "They told me they were going to use it."

A former Army staff sergeant whose work includes portraits of other vets as well as military themes, Corbett said she was fascinated by "jump boots" she saw while stationed in Germany.

She served during peace time from 1978 to 1986 and might have stayed longer. But at the time, the Army "didn't have much use for artists," Corbett said.

She earned a bachelor's degree in art history in Berlin and a masters in visual arts at Vermont College of the Arts. She describes herself as a figurative and abstract painter with an interest in showing character, psychological and spiritual depth.

Because boots take the shape of the wearer's foot, they become personal in a sense and carry an emotional resonance, according to Corbett.

"It's kind of a portrait of a person in a way."

She noted that besides dog tags, boots are among the items most often left behind at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Corbett said she has sold several other drawings of boots and has the original of the version she is "99 percent sure" will appear in the movie.

Corbett said she has an interest in the movie even if her work doesn't make it to the big screen.

"Supposedly it's based on a true story," she said of the movie. "I would have watched it anyway."