Portrait expanded | Meiners and Lee Studios | The Art of Leslie Lee and Dennis Meiners

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Portrait expanded


Category: Leslie's Doings, Painting processes

Looks like I missed posting what happened in last week’s class. I was busy re-working my application for the Hallie Ford Fellowship which was due last Tues. Considering who was selected last year I may never be “out there” enough to be in the running for these things but it didn’t cost anything to submit and it was an online application which made it easier, so why not? Composing my Artist’s Statement did make me think long and hard about what I do and why, especially when it needed to be condensed to 2000 characters. In fact, it’s so short I will share it with you:

“I have been a professional artist of all my adult life. I was the last of four girls and the Wild One so my parents let me choose my own route. I chose “artist” early, made lots of messes and continued on to earn a BFA in graphic design at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri returning to my native Portland, Oregon to begin my career.
 When I married and was temporarily relieved from having to earn a living I began taking classes in ceramics, which had been a favorite medium as a child. Having time for this steady focus propelled me into 25 years as a ceramic sculptor, recognized in 1994 by a Ceramics Monthly cover story.  By then I had (re)married a potter whose home we later sold to build new ecologically conscious studios and a home in southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley.  In the middle of this adventure I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. During chemotherapy I did not have the strength for clay work and began painting, which was the silver lining of my cancer experience.  I never returned to clay.
As a painter my aim is to draw the interest of the viewer with appealing imagery which then invites, through metaphor and allegory, considerations of the individual, the family, society and the natural world. My interests range from confronting global concerns, to simply capturing beauty I think may be overlooked. I paint from life or use reference photos I have taken myself. The stories are always my own.
The success of my work lies not in my competent handling of oil paint (so far I am self taught with much to learn), but rather because people react to how my images illuminate their life experiences.  Nothing delights me more than to have a viewer interpret a painting in a different way than whatever inspired me.  I have witnessed hearty laughs from some and spontaneous tears from others viewing the same image. I am fascinated by this universal/individual response which I intentionally go after by providing not the script of a story, but the seed of one.”
So I suppose my desire to start a story is what has moved this painting of Dennis and Liam away from a straight portrait and into something a bit more intriguing.  Remember when I said I liked the dots that showed up in the background from lens flare? That sparked an idea of having images floating around in all that darkness in the background. Somehow the long neck and face of a giraffe wanted to join in and the title “G is for Giraffe” presented itself. So then where are ABCDE and F?  Ape, butterfly, cat, dog,elephant, frog all heading out after their page was turned.  Here’s how the idea got onto the canvas, sans ape.
 White chalk was used to sketch out the animals. This was about the 4th try.
 Next I sketched them in with paint so I wouldn’t loose them.
 I also worked on the baby’s face, added his hand and clarified his stocking feet and the folds in Dennis’ jeans.  This is where the painting was before class today.
This is where I ended up after class. Gabriel and I discussed the fact that the baby’s face had been brought out of shadow and was now competing for attention, which is a problem with double portraits. I had raised his hood to do this, so I brought it back down which also helped the proportion of his head and cast shadow again.
Then Gabe had me mix a gray that looked dark on the palette but light against the background. This gray is my “white” for the animals. It’s a cool color so we warmed up the darker colors with ocher so I’d have two temperatures to work with in defining the animals. My goal here is to have the animals be “there” enough to make someone seeing this painting from a distance want to view it closer. It might then take much longer to get the alphabet bit – a fun surprise, I hope. 
These last photos were taken in natural light on the porch, so they look different than the shots taken in the studio.
This child is not Liam. With luck I will still find him in there somewhere.
It’s supposed to be cold and rainy tomorrow so my gardening plans  may be out for the day and more painting in .

One Response to “Portrait expanded”

  1. April 2, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    Your statement is excellent and makes so much sense. Again, good luck!

    I love the addition of the animals; it just seems as though the giraffe is so natural and so naturally part of the scene. Couldn’t tell you why, but it works for me.

    Thanks for this latest installment.

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