We all need a lift sometimes....

TANDEM- 2009 Oil on canvas. 24 x 30 by Lesley Humphrey

It's fascinating to me, that the more abstract a painting, the more comments it seems to invite.  Furthermore, everyone sees something different!  A few have said something like "It's about two lovers... Awww".  Someone else said "It's an old mother carrying her son home from the war" (I liked that one.)  Everyone filters their own experience through a less-representative work, which is how it should be.  What was my intention?  Not telling!

On Jurying 2009 Ex Arte Equinus: My Statement...

Ex Arte Equinus International is an art competition presented by the publishers of Art Horse magazine.  As last year's painting winner, it fell to me to jury this year's entries; An absolutely formidable task.  I lost many hours of sleep over my selections with questions like:  Could I eliminate photo realism because of my own personal preference for abstraction?  The answer, after changing my mind millions of times (slight exaggeration there)... Absolutely not.  A good painting is a good painting, however, my highest awards went to those painters that offered excellent paintings, plus a sense of what the artist "felt' while painting the image, offering us a fresh point of view. The following is my juror statement... You'll have to wait for the magazine or the book to see the images selected:

It was indeed an honor and a privilege to jury paintings for the Ex Arte Equinus III International show. The entries provided a fascinating array of work that sometimes left me breathless, sometimes speechless, and something laughing out at the humor present in the some of the works. Thank you, and congratulations to all who entered this unique international platform for the equine art genre.

I should begin by stating that, in my opinion, ‘Art’ cannot be judged. How can one judge a quality that cannot be adequately defined? Rather, one can only hope to witness the absence or presence of “It”, and, if present, to what degree. One can, however, perhaps quantify the competence and mastery of the painter, and hopefully identify creativity and courage in the work.

In an effort to explain the artistic process to my students, I describe it thus: In my experience, learning to paint and pursue art was like learning to write. In the early stages, one learns how to make marks, or letters and words, to simply describe objects and life. As we progress, and we learn to write beautifully descriptive essays and prose, so too do our more advanced paintings reflect, often exquisite, descriptive, pleasing qualities. It is only when technique and skill has been mastered to such a degree, that the artist, author or poet creates something beyond narrative, something that touches our humanity to such a degree that we are changed forever by encountering it… It is only then that we have encountered “Art”. It is not a matter of who was good, better, or best, it is a question of where we are on the journey. With respect, I encourage each of you to ponder this for yourself….

This competition was filled with imagery that would leave you breathless at the technical competence and beauty of the majority of work presented. I love and applaud such beauty and such mastery. The paintings I have selected contained, in my opinion, the most essential ingredient for the works to be considered successful works of ‘Art’. A combination of skills and media, authoritatively orchestrated to create passionate works filled with creative energy and life.

My sincere congratulations to everyone, and my best wishes for your artistic journey.

Time to be your own mother....

"THE MOTHER" 24 x 24 oil by Lesley Humphrey

I think we're only truly free when we come to the realization that we must, at some point in our lives, parent ourselves.  For some, it's earlier.  For some, it's later; and for some, it happens gradually, in layers and increments, as womens' lives wax and wane.  Carl Jung tells us, via metaphor and myth, that it simply must happen for individuation to take place.  This should give you some clues as to the marks and meanings that form part of this piece.  I hope you like it.

(You can enquire about it from New Editions Gallery in Lexington, Kentucky, and/or ask them for an invitation card...It's on the cover.)

A "dessert" painting... A Day at The Beach

12 x 12 inches: Oil on Panel. 2009 A Day At the Beach by Lesley Humphrey

This is generally the type of thing I do, when I want to feel better, but can't find the chocolate.  It's from an old photo of my three children getting ready for a donkey ride, but of course, it's about much more than that.  It's an icon for my highest loves, etched and written throughout.  I gave it to my son, Chris, for his 19th birthday recently.

Using your mother for 'mac lady' hunting..

What is a 'mac lady' and how do you hunt them?  You pose your Mum, or other family member, close to a 'macker' (typical British lady in mackintosh or other coat), and "click".  I give them points out of ten for how fab they are... This one is a good 9.  Not only is she cloaked in a coat and hat, but she also has the required sensible shoes, shopping back, etc.  The only way you can achieve a '10' is if you have a short-legged dog, of questionable origins, on a lead.

Yes, that is my Mum back on her feet, with her little pal Ella.  Whilst posing for this, she said "Oh Lesley, y'don't want a picture of me do you?" ... all blushy and coy (for her)  I said.. "No, but the lady in red is just fabulous!

I'm so relieved Mum is doing better now. I spent several weeks in the UK with her and visiting my art friends, and my daughter at her new flat in London.  (She's having a remarkable time at Sotheby's Art Institute, and sharing her discoveries with me.  How delicious!)

Sunflower: Pearl Fincher MFA

June 2009 "SUNFLOWER" by Lesley Humphrey

The Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts had invited my painting friends and I (we call ourselves the "Six Figure Painters") to have a show in June.  We hired Crystal and painted her all together in one session, each having a different viewpoint.  We then finished the painting at our own studios.  This is my finished piece and it will be on display June 29th at the Pearl for a month.  (We have a reception scheduled for July 24th.. Come and see us!)

"Sunflower" has a lot of content for me.  It may seem a little sullen and lack colour, but this is how I am at the moment.  My Mum's sunflowers were wilting and sad looking on the table, so I put them in the piece, two looking down, one looking up.   The rest I'll leave to your imagination...

Have a wonderful day please!


June 2009 BATTLE WORN by Lesley Humphrey

We had a wonderful summer planned:  House boating in Hot Springs in June, a cruise to Mexico next week, Hawaii in August... Then my mother had a terrible accident on the boat and sustained a compound fracture.  In an instant, life changed, as life does.  We have her home, she's mending well and I am now a 24-hour nurse.  I am learning a lot, not just about nursing but about love, pain, suffering, healing and managing one's own fears...

I had to do a painting for our local 6 Figures Show hosted by the Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts.  I had to paint my situation, and the result is above... The following is a journal entry from 5 days ago...

The fear demons are banging at my door, Lest I have but one moment of peace and surety, If calm and serenity soothes my heart for a fleeting moment They draw their clawen fngers down the pane Drawing light down in to their cold abyss, As if weighted by the gravity of doom. The wound ripples over the leg like ancient scarred earth, Jagged edges, like earthquake's renting In its wake, a rented lament for smoother times, Forever now a reminder of tragedy, Locked into sinews and never forgot How then, does the healer lead the battle against disease? A heart so worn with doom and dire? How does the winder of the wraps Lend rays of light to heal a body, mind and soul? Am I able, am I enough? Responsibility! Thy yoke is heavy and my shoulders tremble from its press Please, please let up just enough, That I can lift up my head, and see the road ahead, And know at least where to place my feet, That I do not stumble, but find my heart Adequate to this task; this load I'd love to pull If only I had hands to guide me. I am blind, I am blinkered, yet pull I must I pray my burden stays aloft, before my journey's done.

See, if you do this sort of thing, you feel better afterward without having your own emotions run roughshod over those you love.  Anyway, it works for me.  Recommend Julia Cameron's "Artist Way" and "Finding Water" for learning how to dig in, write, and paint.

Synchronicity: A horse, a man & an artist at Rolex 3-day event 2009

Last Thursday I was at the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation sponsor's tent (at the Rolex Kentucky 3-Day event), doing a demonstration on behalf of the American Academy of Equine Art.  Here I am at the start with the Administrative Manager of the AAEA, the remarkable Frances Clay Conner.  The sun was in my eyes, but people started to come around and bring me lovely drinks and appetizers... so it wasn't too bad at all.

As the new Director of Education of the American Academy (based at the Horse Park), we were so grateful to Frances Dulaney and her colleagues at the Horse Park for inviting us to showcase equestrian art for their sponsors.

This is me at with the start/first 5 minutes of the demonstration.

I had assumed, since I was at the arena, that horses would be present and I could do my demonstration from life.  Just in case, I had selected a photograph I had taken over 14 years ago, whilst I was still eventing myself.  The photo had so much energy and excitement, and I thought it would be fun to paint for the eventing enthusiasts and World Equestrian Games sponsors present that day.  (I had randomly selected the photo from amongst the several thousands I had.)

A little more paint was applied... You can see the arena in the background. (I was painting on David Davis lead-primed linen taped to a board, with oils.)

Pretty soon, people started to come out onto the patio and introduce themselves to Frances Clay, our President Lloyd Kelly, and myself.  I was delighted to see my friends there, W.E.G. sponsors John Paul and Judy Miller, Harold, Becky, and meeting Connie and Martha from out of state, but a remarkable, I think amazing, thing happened.... People came over who knew exactly who the rider was.... At least one lady had tears in her eyes, and several people were moved.  The rider was recognized as a beloved horseman of Kentucky, a Mr. Ralph Hill, who had suffered a terrible accident.  I was privileged to be introduced to the First Lady of Kentucky, Mrs. Jane Beshear and Mrs. Alston Kerr who asked if the painting could be used to raise funds for their friend to aid him in his plight.  Who could possibly refuse?

I am constantly humbled by the power of Art, and by the magic that happens when we put ourselves to its use.  Who could have imagined I would have selected that photo, on that day?  (Even the lady who owned the horse was present!) It is amazing to me that the very man whose image inspired my painting, will eventually be helped via the vehicle of Art.

I'll keep you posted as to the result.  I'll let you know what happens to the painting.

AS A SIDEBAR... HORSES FINALLY CAME OUT... When the demo was over!!!

So I just grabbed some acrylic paper and sketched them romping around.  (Enjoy the sketch, Dunny!)

Who are these people?

John Paul and Harold, remember we were having a giggle whilst I was demonstrating?  I wonder who this dashing cowboy, the dapper horse trainer in rust suit with turquoise accents, the beautiful, talented and extraordinary blonde and brunette ladies were?  Hmmmm...

Just Figures Art Show April 2009

People (and galleries) are asking me... "Why, Lesley, when equestrian paintings have brought you so much notoriety and prestige (not to mantion cash-ola) would you start painting more figures, when you don't even have a market for them?"  The answer is not simple, but as I develop and mature, as a person and as an artist, I find I wish to be more expressive in my work.  I wish to weave something of the essence of the moment, or of the wonderful person sitting before me, into my work.  Why are figures affording me more of an opportunity to be expressive?  Well, for a start, I know a lot more about being a human than I know about being a horse.  (I know some people who have the opposite traits... please forgive me for saying so.)  Although, when I was a little girl I used to gallop, rather than simply walk or run around the countryside.  I even tried eating grass once or twice... Ugh. Anyway, some wonderful artist friends and I (particularly Mike Stratton, Howie Doyle, Liz Hill and the Woodlands Saturday morning painters at Studio in the Woods) had a "Just Figures Art Crawl" the weekend of the 3, 4, 5.  My work was primarily at Lampros Gallery.  The content of the show all figures painted alla prima, from life.  These are some of mine....

HIJA DEL SOL Lesley Humphrey 2009 36 x 36 oil

LOOKING BACK 2009 16 x 12 oil by Lesley Humphrey

GIRL IN GREEN ABSTRACT 2009 16 x 12 oil by Lesley Humphrey

VINTAGE 2009 oil 28 x 22 by Lesley Humphrey

PENSIVE 12 X 12 acrylic 2009 by Lesley Humphrey

MANDALA 2009 oil 16 x 12 by Lesley Humphrey

Pearl Fincher MFA Glazing Demo

The Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts is a beautiful new museum in my area.  When they contacted me to request an artist presentation/demonstration, correlating with the current show "State Of Grace", I thought of how beautiful it would be to situate my daughter, Lauren in front of one of the beautiful paintings, and paint her in similar pose.....

The demo had to be done in two stages: I already knew that I would not be allowed to paint with oils, in reverence and protection of the beautiful collection, so I chose to demonstrate a grisaille technique, beginning with black and white acrylics on a grey-stained "Yes" canvas.  The size was 24 x 30 inches. The first session took 50 minutes to complete.

After 10 minutes with the hair dryer, I began glazing with a palette of three completely transparent acrylic paints. They were Golden Fluid Acrylics: Quinacridone Gold, Quinacridone Crimson, and Turquoise. I talked about how the old masters glazed (often over months) using a similar technique. I started with the warmest colour first using Quinacridone Gold as my yellow....

Then I glazed red over those areas that represented the red robe, taking care to do it in thin glazes, rather than slapping on the crimson. Note previously applied yellow gives a warmer red. I added thin, transparent layers of red to the frame. Notice how very transparent the Golden colours are, achieving a baroque-looking frame with just a few strokes!

Now I'm adding the turquoise and at the same time creating some cool tones in the white robe. (Her cheeks look a little rosy don't they! I'll have to fix that some other time.)

I have made some beautiful, rich and organic blacks to enhance my drawing and add the darks that I see. I also added more whites to re-glaze and create more depth to folds, etc.

After a further 40 mins., the painting was completed to this point, and the demonstration over...

In the end, I was filled with gratitude... For the chance to paint and be inspired in such a beautiful museum with my subject being one of the people I love most in the world; For being so inspired and honored to be surrounded by the amazing masters in the exhibition and surrounding me on all four sides; For Rosemary Hickman and Tim Novack for having the faith in me to afford me such a special event; A special shout out to Jerry's Artarama for sponsoring my supplies....and last but not least, to the wonderful crowd that came to share the experience with us.  Support your museum! Support the Arts!  Have a fabulous day!

25th Anniversary Jazz Cruise

My wonderful husband took me on the most luxurious experience of my life, a jazz cruise to Cayman Islands, Bahamas and Florida. Oh my goodness! Can you imagine being surrounded by such beauty, in a truly fabulous suite, wine, tremendous musicians, and sitting there with a bottle of wine and painting it all?  Well, that's what I did.  To show my tremendous gratitude for my husband I made this wee little book and, with a make up bag full of my trusty Golden fluid acrylics, I painted something we did together each day....(then had his favorite artists sign the book)

This is the little book,(you can see my fingernail bottom right). I would pre-prepare the pages with colour the night before, ready for the next day's adventure to capture...

A beautiful boat sailed by in Key West. This was a rapid little painting. I abstracted the landscape I saw on the island beyond.

The artist on the left was the remarkable Nick Corlionne who was generous enough to give a guitar seminar in the cocktail lounge (hic... this was helped along by a nice rum and coke. The one on the right was gin and tonic.) I was inspired and touched by these amazing musicians and the way they shared their lives and their Art with us. Their journeys were often tough... Nearly all were true masters of their craft. Sheer and unadulterated pleasure!

Marion Meadows... A most beautiful jazz saxaphonist (with the most adorable and beautiful wife, Maria.)

There was a spot in the main performance hall that had some lights shining down on the table.  How convenient!  So Larry and I would plant ourselves there sometimes whilst I painted, bottle of wine or champagne at the ready, just responding to the magic.  Just before our anniversary, I had all the artists sign my book and gave it to Larry that evening.  He was "dead chuffed", as they say where I grew up.  Now, all that is left are delicious memories that echo in my mind like a Larry Carlton solo.

Thanks to my amazing husband who surprises me with enchanted, delicious adventures all the time (you're amazing, and I love you)....Thanks to all the artists who touched me so:  Nick Corlionne, Norman Brown, Larry Carlton, Boney James, Miles and Accoustic Alchemy, Chieli Mannuci, Mindi Abair, Heather Hedley, Mr. Sandoval, and so many more...