Bird Blocks Revisited

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Today I poured epoxy resin on these little Bird Block paintings. I have the original piece hanging in an exhibition at the Arts Council in Wilson, NC. During the opening reception I was asked to do one as a commission for an architect who lives in a small space. I was also asked to participate in the Wilson Invitational Holiday Show, so I decided to do several Bird Blocks to sell there. Last year the Arts Council sold $10,000 worth of artwork, so it sounds like a winner. These little paintings are all different and one-of-a-kind. Each one mounts flush to a wall and can be arranged in groups or hung individually. They are about 2.5" x 2.5" and are painted in acrylics and epoxy resin. $50 each - a perfectly unique Christmas idea. Email me as soon as possible if you are interested in making a purchase.

Original inspiration:

Edge of Urge models wearing masks

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My masks were featured on the Edge of Urge blog as a top pick of the week!

Finding Beauty in an Empty Nest

Screenprint on paper
18" x 24", 2008

I made this print from a nest given to me by the pre-school class at the school where I used to teach art. This is a limited edition, handpulled screenprint done on archival paper, suitable for framing. $150 each. Please email me if interested in making a purchase in time for Christmas.

Pam the Mermaid

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Yesterday I finished a mermaid mask for my friend and fellow Acme Artist, Pam Toll. She showed it off last night during the 4th Friday gallery hop at Acme. It's a special mask for a great person and I was happy that she was pleased with it. We did it as an art trade, so she let me pick out one of her fabulous collages. I'll post a photo of it later on. Pam is a well respected Wilmington artist who teaches at UNCW. She is the co-founder of Acme Studios and No Boundaries Art Colony on Bald Head Island. Her work hangs in collections all over the world.

I'm still amazed at how much you can do with leather. It's so pliable. Check out these photos of me creating the mask:

Creature from the Black Lagoon and 'ol Long Horns - Sold

Friday, October 24, 2008

Installation at Urban Studios

Yesterday I installed my three-color screenprinted wheel banners at the Urban Studios at 805 North 4th Street (downtown in the Brooklyn Arts District). I added the original bicycle wheels that were the inspiration for the piece and I think it really adds something to the overall installation. There will be a private party and fashion show coming up on November 6th, so I'm honored that Kevin DeMarco asked me to be the featured artist. I am also creating seven masks for the models to wear during the fashion show.

Captain of the Imperial Guard

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Today I did a little brain storming for a new commission I'm working on. The client wanted something related to the concept of "Captain of the Imperial Guard". I really went wild with this one. I tried to give it a "helmet" of sorts by layering up the leather. I have also created a face guard that will snap on for full facial coverage but will be removable for eating, etc.

As you can see by the piles of cut paper on my work table, I make templates for my masks by trial and error. Once I get the design right on paper, I move on to cutting the leather.

Here's my friend Michael Van Hout modeling it for me. : )

Rock the Vote

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Early registration started today in North Carolina...and I only had to take a few minutes away from my work because the voting office is just a block away from my studio.

Candy Girl

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Last night was the big opening for "Guys and Dolls", an art exhibition by Sandra Ihly and Michelle Connelly, two of my best pals at the Acme Art Studios. I got to be the candy girl and serve up some sweets to our visitors. Once again, Pucci stole the show. Although he was steppin' out in style, he still made time to ham it up for the camera.

ACME Family Celebration

Yesterday we celebrated the birthday of our dear friend Mio Reynolds. We have such a great little family at the ACME Art Studios.

Masks featured on Mint blog

Friday, October 10, 2008

A big shout out to Ellie for featuring my masks on Mint's blog.

Too Ambitious?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

After the success of 'ol Long Horns, I got a little too ambitious and attempted to make a mask with even longer horns - and I wanted them to curl back. I did the sketch, cut the leather, proceeded with the usual wet form shaping, and started to get frustrated with the horns, which wouldn't cooperate. I decided to cut v shaped notches along the edges where the horns are meant to curl down. It dried pretty good and kept it's shape but the shafts of the horns are too long to support themselves. I bought some clear vinyl tubing, cut it into the right shape, fit it into the horns, and wrapped it all with a thin thread of wire. This worked perfectly to give the horns structure.
Unfortunately they are heavy. I'll have to come up with a way to keep this mask on the wearers head. A work in progress...

Wilson Times Article

The Wilson Times, Wilson, NC
Thursday, October 09, 2008, 10:25 AM

Artist Leslie Pearson tells story through her work
Show featured at Arts Center

"Tell Me a Story," the narrative paintings and mixed media artwork by Leslie Pearson, is on display at the Wilson Arts Center's First Gallery. The exhibit was moved from the Boykin Center after it was closed due to structural problems.

As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Visual artists have a long history of telling stories through paintings, drawings and photography. Looking back through old family photo albums and seeing a picture of someone blowing out their birthday candles can bring on a flood of memories that tell the story of that special day. So is the case with paintings in which one image can speak volumes.

Like traditional narrative painters who draw upon historical, mythological and literary materials for scenarios of action, Wilmington artist Leslie Pearson often gains inspiration for her paintings from poetry, music and literature -- particularly stories from the Bible.

"A lot of my work focuses on women and reflects the strength and perseverance they have obtained throughout their lives and personal spiritual journeys," Pearson said.

One of the featured pieces is "Phoenix Rising," a large-scale oil painting, rich with biblical references and symbolism. Legend has it that the phoenix is a sacred, mythical bird known for its strength and beauty.

As the end of its life approaches, the phoenix builds itself a nest, sets it on fire and is consumed by the flames. After three days, the phoenix is reborn and arises from the ashes stronger and more beautiful than before. The phoenix became popular in early Christian art and literature as a symbol of Christ and represents the resurrection, immortality and the promise of eternal life.

In the painting, a young woman looks heavenward as she emerges from a pile of ashes. Like the Phoenix, she has died to her former self and is reborn anew. This imagery is also a reference to 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."

Pearson takes her work a step further by adding hand-painted words or phrases.

"The use of text is a recurring element in my work. I often start a painting based around a word that has evoked a visual image for me. When I hear or read words, I get a picture in my head and then go from there," Pearson said.

In 2002, Pearson joined the Army as a photojournalist. About a year later she went totally deaf in her right ear as a result of permanent nerve damage and was medically discharged from the military.

"Not only was the experience a bit overwhelming," Pearson said, "it took a while to feel like myself again because I had to deal with headaches and vertigo -- symptoms other people couldn't see on the surface. Thankfully, these have since subsided.

"During that time of waiting and learning to come to terms with my disability, my art began to develop in a new way: I started incorporating more texture and words into my paintings and exploring new media. It was the worst time for me personally, however it was a catalyst for the kind of art I do now. Ever since my first series using text, my work has continued to transform on a conceptual level.

"Art is personal and subjective; there are no rules or boundaries, only freedom. My art has helped me find meaning in the midst of life's uncertainties and break free from perceived limitations. It transforms because it helps me transcend any situation. It's my voice; it's what I can offer to the world and I feel good about that," Pearson said.

Hands off the Leather

An early birthday present to myself...a side of leather! Just as I was unrolling this hide and wondering what in the world I was thinking, someone came into my studio and commissioned four custom designed masks. Cool! I always say, "it doesn't hurt to have some extra leather on hand".

Preview of 'ol Long Horns

Monday, October 6, 2008

These horns glow in the dark!!


This is a snippet of a great email I received during my show in Wilson, NC. It really is encouraging to hear positive feedback from people.

"Your work is breathtaking, and that's a word that I never use. Hi, Cynthia at the Arts Council of Wilson gave me your information. I was downtown showing a friend of mine around, and we went in and...WOW! It's powerful work. You know how it is when you listen to a piece of music that moves you, or you see a dance performance that brings tears to your eyes, and you think to yourself, "this is the real deal!" Well, that's what happened when I saw your work.
I didn't know about the reception, I would have loved to meet you. It's probably better this way, though. I'm much better with the written word. Meeting you would have had me awkward and with little to say other than the usual polite chit chat. I write words and music, but for some reason, I really don't like talking about what I do--it feels too exposing somehow. Therefore, I would never ask an artist what their work is about. I mean, how in the world would you even reply to that? It's kind of personal, isn't it?
Your work moved me. And that's what I'm really trying to say. If you come back to Wilson, I'd at least like to say hello. Thanks for sharing your talent!

DeeAnn Macomson

Owl Masks

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Last week I was challenged to create an owl mask. Once I got started, I couldn't stop. I looked at various photographs of owls in their natural settings and realized that owls come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Obviously, not purple, bronze, or silver but hey, I took this opportunity to use my artistic license. I'll be the first to admit that the last two styles of masks look like Viking Owls, but that's what I love about them. I ventured out into layering pieces of cut leather using leather cement. This adds more of a "feathery" look. The almond shaped beak took a minute to get right but I think it's actually the most comfortable mask style of all of the ones I've done so far. And, I was able to master the fine art of tying an adjustable elastic strap. Now they are suitable for all heads -- big and small. The paint job on these is more elaborate too. I have several layers and washes of color (especially on the last two), which gives it depth and dimension.

My brain is constantly on overload with ideas for working with leather. There are so many possibilities. I will also be posting a photo of the mask with the long horns. It turned out great! Who knew leather could stand on its own like that?

Opening Reception in Wilson

Friday, October 3, 2008

On Tuesday we dropped off and installed the artwork for my solo exhibition at the Hammond Gallery in Wilson. I woke up Thursday morning, the day of the opening, and headed to Acme to get a little work done in the studio on some new leather masks. It was unlike me not to have any of the pre-show jitters that I usually have before a big exhibition, especially one that's out of town. But I felt calm and planned to leave the studio at about noon, walk home, take a hot bath and head to Wilson for the opening reception which was scheduled to start at 5:30. At about 11:28 I got an urgent call from the Arts Council of Wilson.

"Leslie, I'm so sorry but I have terrible news. There was a termite inspection at the Boykin Center and there is a structural beam that is threatening to collapse. We can't have the reception there a matter of fact, we have to move all of the artwork out of there. Please get here as soon as you can."

Rinse brushes...lock up studio...race home...take a quick shower...dash to Wilson.

Meanwhile, Cynthia Whalen pulled her resources together and started moving the pieces down the street to the gallery space inside the Arts Council. They decided to take down their permanent collection and hang my work. By the time we arrived all the work was hanging and labeled. Whew! Now we had about an hour to relax and freshen up before the reception.

The Council had previously arranged for us to stay at the Whitehead Inn, a beautiful Bed and Breakfast in Wilson. This was the first time I have ever been offered lodging on the night of an opening, so we were thrilled--and even more thrilled when we saw how nice the B&B was.

When we arrived at 5:30, everything looked great, there was an open bar with a bartender, a table covered with heavy hors'doeurves, and two musical performers ready to play.

Even with the odds stacked against it, the night was a huge success. I talked the night away to the many local visitors who came out to meet me. It seemed like every time I wrapped up one conversation, I turned around to be engaged by someone else. I was able to talk about my work freely and openly.

A BIG Thank you to everyone who had a helping hand in making this night a wonderful experience for me. Even though there was a lot going on behind the scenes, the evening went smoothly. And the music was great.