New Diggs

Monday, March 31, 2008

Well, we finally found a place to live in Wilmington! We will be living RIGHT downtown on 2nd and Nun Street in a historic home that has been converted into 3 units. We are renting a top floor two bedroom with high ceilings and loads of character. My first impression of the place was, "oh my gosh, this looks like an old English pub...we'll take it!" As you can see from the pictures, it is very charming -- so much so that the trolley and horse drawn carriage tours of the area go down the street. It's about a four minute walk to the river where all the action of a thriving downtown is taking place. It's also only 1 mile to Acme, my new art studio. It's a beautiful and easy walk or bike ride away. Our door is there on the second level, which gives us access to the covered porch -- perfect for grilling out on those low-key Southern evenings.

Our neighborhood is filled with mansions, other historic homes, and Bed and Breakfasts. Here is a picture of our neighbors home...needless to say, we won't even try to keep up with the Joneses.

Our home in Fayetteville is on the market, and so far we've been showing in regularly. In the meantime, we're hustling to get our stuff to Wilmington. Once we're more settled in, I'll post some pics of the inside.

Encore Book Review

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Encore Magazine, Wilmington, NC
Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

A Leap of Faith: Pearson’s book of art tells a lifetime of stories

By Lauren Hodges

When looking back on our lives, what do we have to remind us of our journey? There are photo albums of age-progressing pictures, filled with fashion errors and friends with whom we’ve lost touch. Some of us have journals documenting our heartbreaks, frustrations, triumphs—and bad handwriting. Human beings have a natural instinct to document their days, dating all the way back to cave drawings and hieroglyphics. Whether we are looking forward to the nostalgia or just needing a means to capture the moment, people are finding new ways to put their thoughts and feelings out into the world every day.

Leslie Pearson, a soon-to-be local artist, mixes text and painted images to convey her messages to an audience.

“I use text to inject tone and voice to a piece, not to offer an explanation,” she says. “Words have a way of catching the eye; letters are merely symbols that we attach meaning to. People bring their own recognition of those symbols, an understanding of what the words mean within the given social and historical context of the painted image, and within that framework they can find their own element of truth.”

Pearson’s portfolio of mixed-media paintings is a proverbial open book of the artist’s mind. Each work features text that speaks for its subject.

“Sometimes the words bring clarity to the painting,” Pearson explains, “and sometimes it adds to the ambiguity of the image. Some artists reject the combination on the grounds that visual art should stand on its own without language. Others prefer to use words exclusively. In my case the interplay between the hand-painted words and images acts as an effective vehicle for communicating ideas.”

Her collection is further communicated in her new book, Off the Diving Board: The Narrative Paintings of Leslie Pearson. “I have wanted to publish a book of my artwork, which is narrative in nature, for some time now,” she describes. “When I was awarded a Regional Artist Project Grant in 2006/2007 from the North Carolina Arts Council, I was able to continue to produce work and start the book. It started out as more of a catalogue then grew into the 146-page book that it is today. I’m very excited to be able to share the things that inspired me to do many of the paintings and mixed-media works featured in the book.”

The book offers full-color pages showcasing Pearson’s stylish paintings with paragraphs introducing each work. A painting by Leslie Pearson is essentially a simple image or symbol done in either a wide palette or an edgy pairing of colors. Her work has a sharp dignity, seeming to hold a secret to life with each complex message.

“Closer and Closer,” a gritty image of birds on a telephone wire, shares the text style of a ransom note that spells out “getting closer and closer to the edge all the time.” The colors are the same as a dark bruise, with blues and blacks coexisting on the provocative canvas. The “bird on a wire” image is part of a large series that Pearson says symbolizes freedom and femininity.

“I have always been interested in the personal stories of people who have felt trapped, stifled, imprisoned, gripped with fear, caged and unable to live their lives the way they want,” she says, explaining that the paintings convey how the people eventually found freedom.

Pearson is also acutely aware of the Bible and how its stories seem to explain so many things about human nature and history. In her “Resonance and Relevance” chapter, paintings inspired by Biblical stories take center stage. “Naked Before the Fall” features Eve, sitting naked and exquisite with the infamous forbidden fruit in her hand. The chapter goes on to explain the fall of man that occurred after Adam and Eve ate the fruit and became aware of their nakedness. Pearson is clearly making a statement about how comfortable Eve felt in her own skin before her first moral dilemma darkened her innocence and freedom. She admits that she finds the stories somewhat personal, saying that some paintings “share a personal history and private reveries. Other works are general musings about love and relationships, and are often allegorical rather than literal.”

Off the Diving Board is a fascinating peek into the process of an artist unafraid to open her soul and share it with the world. Each chapter tells the story of a phase in Pearson’s artistic career, as well as a phase of her life.

“Using narrative as a counterpoint to imagery, my art explores life’s complexities and offers insight into the human condition, while primarily speaking through the experiences of women,” she says. “As I seek to understand myself and my role in this world, I look for parallels between my life and the lives of other people.”

Off the Diving Board: The Narrative Paintings of Leslie Pearson is available for sale ($29.99) through her blog at or by contacting the artist at


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I rarely go back into a piece with changes once I consider it finished. I am usually on to something else and can easily distance myself from a painting that only days or weeks before had me completely captivated. 10 years ago I finished an 18 piece series called Red, Yellow, Blue. I remember that I had to quickly frame the work for an exhibition and have shown it several places since.

Recently, I was asked to donate a piece of art to the Fayetteville Museum of Art for a fund raising event. As I looked over my work, trying to decide which to give, I suddenly wanted to rework a few of the pieces from Red, Yellow, Blue. This series was an exercise in color recollection in which I paired colors and their given name with other colors to see if it stirred any other emotion than is typically expected. For example, I painted the word Red in a blue color. I worked with spray paint, acrylic paint, and charcoal and used all three primary colors (Red in red, red in yellow, red in blue, etc. as well as several small study blocks). The result was pretty cool, especially the pieces in which I used charcoal to bring out specific parts, blurring the lines between foreground and background. At the time, I decided to leave a few without any charcoal added. Over the years I always consider those the "weaker" pieces.

So a couple of days ago I decided to revise one called "Red/Blue". I'm pleased with the end result. Perhaps this will be the piece I donate to the museum...





Celebrating the Achievements of Women

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Today Fort Bragg celebrated Women's History Month. The event drew in quite a crowd and I was honored to be a part of it as a guest artist. As you can see from the photos, my Wings stirred a lot of curiosity among the visitors.

I was also recognized for my participation with a framed certificate from the 108th Air Defense Artillery Brigade.

See a slideshow with more

The Fine Art of Slow Roasting

Thursday, March 20, 2008

So the other day I bought a package of green coffee beans at our local Middle Eastern food market. I consider myself to be somewhat of a coffee snob (I pretty much keep to the Starbuck's or Seattle's Best brands), but I didn't even know it was possible for the average Joe (pardon the pun) to roast their own beans. The little lady who owns the shop tried her best to describe to me how to do it. Finally, through broken English and hand gestures, I deduced that it can be done right on the stove top in nothing more than a frying pan. So this afternoon I gave it a shot. I'll admit, it took a bit longer than I expected. I had the heat turned down pretty low because I was worried I would burn the beans, so it took about an hour. The beans have to be stirred continually. Overall, it yielded a pretty good cup.

Women's History Month

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I was recently asked to take part in a Women's History Month celebration by showcasing some of my art at the Officer's Club at Fort Bragg. As a woman and an artist, I consider it an honor to be a part of this exciting day! This will be the first opportunity I've had to exhibit my "Wings" in public. I hope everyone local will have a chance to attend and meet the other artists and people representing groups like the North Carolina Museum of Art and the Fayetteville Museum of Art. I look forward to it.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

So I have a little secret...occasionally, not obsessively,...I Google myself. At least I admit it! Anyway, I do it because sometimes there are things floating around in cyberspace that I wouldn't know about otherwise. For instance, last night...err, this morning at 4am when I couldn't sleep, I Googled myself and realized that I needed to update a few of the free sites I have my artist profile on. I didn't realize the importance of the sites until the other day when someone came by the gallery to meet me and see my work in person. He had in his hand a print out of the Absolute Arts site. Apparently, this is the first site people come across when they type in my name. Shame on me, I haven't updated it in two years I think. So I decided to undertake this before my husband woke up and caught me Googling myself again...not that I do it very often. Once I updated that site I came across my resume which I posted a long time ago on the Women's Fund for Arts networking website. I updated it...then stumbled across this review of my show at Gallery 208 on the Arts Council's website:

Noted and prolific Fayetteville artist Leslie Pearson, unveils a show at Gallery 208 on January 24, 2008. Leslie Pearson is a noted and prolific artist in Fayetteville. She teaches art at Fayetteville Christian School, manages the Pearson Gallery, and creates works from her own studio. She has had a slew of solo exhibitions all over the United States and her art has been featured in group exhibitions as far away as Germany. Her current show uses narrative as a counterpoint to imagery; “My art explores life’s complexities and offers insight into the human condition, while primarily speaking through the experiences of women.” Leslie Pearson is particularly fascinated with the use of text in her work, as it can either illuminate or muddle a work. In Leslie’s art, “the interplay between the hand-painted words and images acts as an effective vehicle for communicating ideas.” She also focuses on bird imagery as a means to communicate strength, a sense of entrapment, and at the same time- femininity and freedom.

An engaging artist-- stop by and see her show at Gallery 208 at 208 Rowan Street, from January 24- April 13, 2008.

Now, I just had to share this because for starters, I've never been referred to as "a noted and prolific artist" Which feels pretty good.

Next I came across the Cape Fear Studio's website (where I have a solo show this month). I didn't realize they were going to highlight me with a whole page on their site much less did I know they were thinking this:
We are thrilled to welcome prestigious local artist Leslie Pearson. Known for her large pieces and defined style, Leslie is a gem in our community and we are thrilled to have her at Cape Fear Studios with her unique show entitled "Resonance and Relevance."

This just about makes my day...I'm a "prestigious" local artist and a "gem" in the community. I'm blushing!!

Ok, long story short...just Google yourself sometime. Go on, try it...there's no shame in it.

Cards and Totes

Monday, March 10, 2008

I was asked to design some new cards and totes to sell in the gift shop at the Fayetteville Museum of Art. I engaged the task with my usual enthusiasm and produced a ton of cool wares. The 6"x8" notecards are a two-color silkscreened floral print. I actually grew the flowers last summer and took some photos while they were in full bloom. It made for a wonderful print. I decided on six colors (pink, blue, orange, yellow, purple, and silver - my personal favorite) and printed them on cream-colored handmade Italian paper, which I'll be selling individually and in sets of six (envelopes included). The canvas totes come in two sizes, three designs and several color combinations. Most are a one-color silkscreen, but I tried out a few with the card design. Of course I burn all my own screens using photo emulsion in a little dark room I have set up in my studio, and I pull all my own prints. These will be available for sale starting March 14th during the Museum's next exhibition opening reception, and until they sell out. Get them while supplies last...

Sneak Peek...

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Without giving too many details away, I wanted to share a sneak peek at what I've been working on lately. I was asked to design some new tote bags and notecards to sell in the gift shop at the Fayetteville Museum of Art. I'm really excited about this opportunity, and I think these items will be a great addition to the gift shop. Tune in tomorrow to see the final products...

Web design blues...

Saturday, March 8, 2008

I have certainly been learning some heavy stuff lately. First I had to learn Adobe InDesign from scratch to do the graphic design for my recently published book, Off the Diving Board, not to mention tons of Photoshop wizardry to make it look nice. Now, with my building confidence, I'm attempting to design a new website. This task has been keeping me quite busy for the last few months. I'm putting nearly all my free time (free time, what's that??) into this and I'm basically baby stepping my way through it. Just to give you an idea of how green I was when I first started, I didn't even know what HTML was. Now I'm "behind the scenes" laying out pages, changing fonts, creating links, and chewing gum to boot. Knowledge is power! My goal is to have this site up and running before we move to Wilmington, NC at the end of May. Here's a screen shot of the home page, just a little preview...keep in mind, this is still in the rough stages.


Thursday, March 6, 2008

Recently my husband and I went to Winston-Salem for an appointment. While there we decided to do a little sight seeing and check out the local art-related venues. We were pleasantly surprised by the Reynolda House Museum of American Art. Reynolda is a historic home filled with antiques and, you guessed it...artwork by prominent American artists such as Grant Wood and Gilbert Stuart. After meandering throughout the house, gaping at the huge indoor pool, bowling alley, shooting area and spacious closets filled with period clothing, I peeked into one last room (at the chagrin of my husband who by now had a sleepy case of museum fatigue and was motioning for me to hurry it up). Anyway, there in the back "West Bedroom Gallery" was a small exhibition called "Wordplay: Text and Modern Art", which consisted of several pieces in the Museum's collection and a loan courtesy of the Wake Forest University Student Union Collection of Contemporary Art.

Suddenly I felt a breath of fresh air as I stood among the work of living artists who I have often gained inspiration from. People like Lorna Simpson, Shusaku Arakawa, Jasper Johns, Robert Cottingham, Glenn Ligon, and Edward Ruscha, who, like me are fascinated by the power of words.

Allison Slaby, who curated the exhibition, had the following comments to say about the show:

From the illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages through contemporary installations, the written word (or letter or number) has played an enduring role in the visual arts. This exhibition examines the various reasons that modern artists integrate text into their designs.

Whether exploring the function of language, the aesthetic form of words and letters, or the centrality of text in our environment, these artists embrace the rich material that language introduces to their work.

Image: "Untitled (How it feels to be colored me...Doubled)". 1991. Oilstick on paper, 31 1/2 x 16", Glenn Ligon

Daily American Republic News Article

Sunday, March 2, 2008

I've had an unbelievably good year so far. I've had back-to-back (and in some cases, like this month) multiple exhibitions going on at once, good sales, and a lot of press coverage. Here's a little clip from the DAR, the local newspaper in Poplar Bluff, Missouri where I grew up.