Friendship And The Timeless Tapestry

Friendship And The Timeless Tapestry

Have you ever had a time in your life when you “know you’re on the right path” because coincidences begin to pour in and synchronicity happens beyond your wildest dreams?  One of those times was when I was named the Official Kentucky Derby Artist for 2011.  A truly great story began to “weave” into place, which included a great horse called Timeless Fashion, and his owner, my dear friend Judy Miller.  This is a painting I did for her, designed with a nod to the Fibonacci sequence rather than the usual, “blocky” way of designing the canvas.

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This year's Card : Snow Angel

SNOW ANGEL – ASHLEY (16 x 12″ oil on panel by Lesley Humphrey)

This will be our card this year... Ashley and I always love to make the handmade Xmas cards together, but she is working in Italy at the moment.... so she modeled for me before she left.  The first painting was a little "cool" both in demeanor and skin tone, so I decided to change it.  I prefer the finished piece above.  I'll probably doodle on each one with paint markers, just to make each one a little more special.

Snow Angel – 2013 by Lesley Humphrey. Stage 1.

Defying Gravity

“Defying Gravity” – Snowman Oil Series #2 – 48″ x 24″ oil on canvas. 2013 Lesley Humphrey.  (Private Collection of FCB)

Breeding, power, training, skill, intelligence... Time and time again these are the components considered vital to win, or simply get ahead, especially in the horse business.  So many ordinary horses deemed 'the wrong type' or 'poorly bred' are seldom given the chance to even compete with "the big guys", yet when they do... sometimes... miracles happen.

Such was the case with Snowman... And in fact, a lot of people I know....

You may think you're from the wrong side of the tracks, the wrong country, in the wrong religion, the wrong color, physical shape, gender - to get ahead - to win, and the list is endless.

Thanks to the wonderful young people involved in Heartlift for this image. is a non- profit registered charity that takes young people struggling on the fringes of society.


I've been told art is not a 'proper job'.  Then a teacher all but convinced me I couldn't paint and forbade me to use anything other than a 6" house painting brush for 1.5 years.

At Heartlift, we take young people existing on the fringes of society, many of whom have had very difficult childhoods; Young people who believe they are alone in all the world, and, through the vehicles of art and sports, love and compassion,  we convince them they are not.

Gravity can be created by physical issues, social situations, economic strife.  It can be racial/ethnic/gender related... Gravity can be imposed by political, religious and/or tribal dogma - anything that 'keeps you in your place', brings you back down to earth, keeps you under control;  Gravity creates self doubt, always the biggest weight to overcome, time and time again.

We all have gravity.  Gravity can be like a suite of armor made from disapproving labels others/society has applied to you.  Gravity is like clay that weighs you down, and the more clay you accept, the harder it is to get up and keep trying... Yet you must, especially if you want to someday fly or


I was 33.  I had 3 very young children.  I had a burning desire to ignore 'the clay' that I had accepted.  I heard that a 'great' professional, local artist was giving lessons in his studio, so I went. He told me on the first day that I didn't have enough time to become a good painter, since I couldn't go to an art institute like he had attended, and it was pointless to have that dream as a housewife with young kids. My ears 'heard him'; What he said made sense to my brain, but my entire body screamed disagreement.  Some part of me stood defiant and actually felt angry - I thought, "I might be a mother, but I'm not dead, for goodness sake!" I decided he was an arrogant p$&*!!$, and a burning desire was born to 'prove him and everyone else wrong who would label me incapable - for whatever reason.   That burning desire provided and fueled the 'escape velocity' (#1 painting in the series), burning away clay every step of the way. I decided to keep my head down, and keep going; to follow my bliss, no matter what.... To defy gravity.

I am very proud to be a Trustee of Heartlift. I can honestly say I love working with Heartlift and its people. Watching the transformations. Letting art and our supportive programs break off their ‘clay’ labels, one step at a time and watching them bloom with possibility.

You too can burn through the clay.

Your contributions will help us make the difference in a young person's life.  If you feel moved, please visit Heartlift at

Now off you go.... have a great day, shed some clay, and fly away.

"The Spirit Of Overcoming" : My new series is launched... (Copyright 2013 Lesley Humphrey)

Have you read the book, "Snowman, The $80.00 Champion", by Elizabeth Letts?  It's wonderful! I bought the book at an airport, on my way to a week-long artist's retreat by the beach and was, quite literally, swept away by it... In part because of the story of this amazing horse, and partly because of the incredible man and hero, Harry Deleyer... I was deeply inspired by them both.  For the remainder of the retreat, I was inspired to paint my white horse over and over again, 9 times in total that first week.

As if that were not enough, I was utterly blown away to later discover that a friend and neighbor, Mr. John Deleyer and his family, was Harry's son, John Deleyer, and unmentioned in the book!  John is the huntsman of the The Longacre Hunt where I was once a member, with colors.  The Longacre Hunt is partly owned by one of my closest, dearest friends, MFH Susie Hackney!  That was the 'icing on the cake'.  These are all wonderful people, dear to me for years.

Life seemed to be weaving its incredible tapestry, the threads woven together by the Creative Spirit, becoming visible... right before my eyes!  My heart was deeply touched... I couldn't get Harry and Snowman's story off my mind... Now this image is ingrained upon my psyche... The painting here is a sneak preview of the series unfolding...Hope you like it!

“Escape Velocity” 2013, 48″ x 24″ oil on canvas, by Lesley Humphrey : All rights reserved.

About the painting....

I gave the book to my daughter, but the image lingered and is now etched upon my psyche....

The thought of Snowman, determined to come home, and Harry Deleyer, determined to win, despite obstacles of every possible description:  Origin, breed, economics.... I recognized their story as the aptly-named "Hero's Journey" referred to in Joseph Campbell's epic work "The Hero With A Thousand Faces";  A story of life, of Spirit, and extraordinary circumstances that brought together two magnificent beings;  Both had that very rare, unbeatable, indescribable 'something' that life throws up from time-to-time;  That 'something special' that defies the odds, flaunts the powers that be, and in the process, gives us all hope.

I love the story.  It changed me for the better, forever, and launched a new painting series...

Escape Velocity will be auctioned on November 20th at

The Sporting Art Auction, Keeneland, Lexington, Kentucky.  Go to:

Quick sketches: Posture, portrait or personality? (Copyright 2013 Lesley Humphrey)

Woodlands Art League Gallery & Studio, January 2013.

Belly Dancer.1 14 x 18" oil on canvas.

Hello again.  Gosh, it's been 7 months since I posted on my blog.  I have been writing lessons though (which have found their way all over the globe I am surprised to say) so I've not been neglecting you.  I've been traveling, learning, living and loving life, and I hope you have too.

I enjoyed spending time with my Woodlands buddies a couple of weeks ago at the Thursday session. I just love model encounters like this one.  In costume, and with gesture and a personality that invites imagination... Lots of texture.  How lovely to paint.

Interesting thoughts, ideas and stories bounce around in my head as I listened to her Egyptian love songs in a musical style not exactly commonplace in my particular corner of Texas.  With only 20 minutes per session, rather than practice my 'portraiture', I decided to instead practice my personal response to the subject.  She gave us such wonderful poses... It would have been a shame to sit there struggling to create a likeness.  (Other painters were very good at, and enjoyed doing so... but I am woefully out of practice at rendering a likeness.)

My art students and friends wonder why don't I paint portraits, or go to posed model groups so much these days?  I find that people, when they think they're being watched or judged, 'put on a pose', as sure as they put on their clothes; both on their faces and in their bodies.  It's the 'life behind' the pose that intrigues me the most.  Think about when you watch people greet, or say goodbye to one another at an airport... They often don't "put it on" in those circumstances.  At airports, at hospitals, on vacation - wherever humans are being themselves, how people hold their bodies tells the story of their sorrows, their delight, and even give clues as to how this person feels about life.

It's the essence of life itself that I love to try to capture; How one's life and body deals with the effects of time and circumstance is etched into our gesture and in our eyes. In this world of carefully polished and trained veneers (think of recent political campaigns...) the fleeting life essence caught in authentic expression is life, caught in an instant, and precious to behold.  Rare at times, and what I love to paint... Whilst I'm 'at it', I like to leave a little bit of my own life essence/ gesture there too...

Belly Dancer.2 - 18 x 14 oil on canvas... 20 minute sketch

Belly Dancer.3 : 20 minute oil sketch on canvas by Lesley HumphreyBelly dancer, detail...It's the expression, rather than the likeness that interests me most, these days.