By Leslie Ann Butler
Leslie Ann shares her experience as a painter on being inspired, getting unstuck – and on following your dreams. You can see more of Leslie Ann’s work here
My professional art career began with portraits: magic happened when I seemed to connect with my animal and human subjects and began my journey for capturing the essence and spirit of people and pets in my work. I was thrilled that my clients laughed and cried with joy and delight at these results. With bold color and a suggestion of motion, my work asks the viewer to seek the light. Constrained by the physical, we are trapped by walls of dreams and delusion and unable to see reality, which is unending joy. We choose to be defined by our seeming limitations instead of emerging into the realization that we are powerful beings with infinite consciousness. I strive to bring to light the reality that lives deep within, beyond what one can see with outer sight. The creative process does not end with the physicality of the painting, but is continued and enhanced through the eyes of each beholder into the creation of thoughts and emotions it brings out in them; this magic dance of connection is proof that we are not separate.
I’d like to say that inspiration came right away. But that didn’t happen. Every morning I went into my studio and went to work. Paint splattered everywhere and what I didn’t get on me went on the walls, chairs and ceiling. I’d stand at my easel with brush in hand and to no one in particular, hollered “I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING! HELP!!!”
I work with acrylic paint, paper, gold and silver leaf, charcoal and pastels. In many paintings I have added a paint- obscured slide which symbolizes the veil that covers our true vision. I paint squares and rectangles which can be either windows that open to the light or boxes that shut it out.
Awakening. The Beginning.
Working all hours, I managed to create 20 paintings in 17 days. Aside from the self-imposed stress, making that much art that fast was a good exercise for me. I started feeling the freedom of doing abstract work. The first attempts still had a bit of figurative quality in them, but only accidentally.
Here is one of my first abstract paintings, “The Stance”:
I had imagined and longed for – and was finally experiencing — the exhilaration of not following any form or making a painting “look like something.”
As I continued to work, I became even freer and was able to break away completely from form. The painting below “The Stance”, called “Magic,” is a good example of the first series of abstracts I feel qualified as true abstract work, and named the series “Awakening.”
But it didn’t stop there.
A breakthrough! Last September I was deep in meditation when suddenly I saw paintings – like a slide show, one after than the other, one more unusual than the next, flashing before my closed eyes. I had never seen anything like them before, and I had never had an experience like this before. I grabbed a pad and pencil and sketched out thumbnails so I would remember, and closed my eyes again. Surprisingly, the slide show continued and I could hardly keep up with the parade of paintings I saw. The pile of papers beside my chair grew.
The next day I ventured into my studio to try to put on canvas what I had seen in meditation. I placed a 20” x 24” canvas on the floor of my studio and with some trepidation and before I could think too hard about it, I managed to break the intimidating solid white background with a bold swath of black. Then I walked around my studio, waiting for something – a voice telling me that this was good, perhaps? Not sure if I was doing the right thing, I made another bold stroke of red. Not too bad! I realized this was not life or death. I looked at my minimalist thumbnail and the sketchy guidance it revealed. The rest of the inspiration was waiting to descend — and I paced, wondering what to do next. Over a period of 12 hours I was “given” directions as to what to do with that first painting and two more paintings. It was like magic!
I love this work and the way it comes through me. I don’t feel as if I am the one painting at all. It is coming from a completely different place than I’ve ever experienced before.
Here is one of the first paintings in this series which I call “Meditations”, named “Ascending:”
I love what’s happening and continue to look forward with anticipation as to what comes next!