Leslie Peterson was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. She was brought up experiencing history in creative and practical ways. The house she lived in was built in 1870, and her father, Gary was the leader of a Dixieland Jazz band. She first became intrigued by vintage photographs when she was 20 years old and saw her stepfather’s childhood snapshots for the first time.
She went to New York City for college, where she attended Parsons School of Design, City University of New York, and The Art Students League. She graduated with honors with a BFA in 1991. She returned to Portland, and has been here ever since, devoting her time to painting, volunteerism, travel, love and adventure.
Her style is rooted in the American Regionalism, American Realism, and Modernist movements. The paintings are unquestionably contemporary, yet classic and accessible; “art that draws you in immediately...”
My paintings strike a balance between telling a narrative and creating an intriguing composition. By achieving this balance I hope to share my vision of ourselves as people, our environment, a way of life that is past, and how that past reflects on our present.
I work from vintage photographs. My challenge is to recognize the great painting inside an innocuous snapshot, to draw out the singularities I see, and express them through the artistic process. Rather than manipulating and rearranging elements in a photograph to fit an artistic aim, my aim is to use the photograph as found. Contemporary art based on vintage images often refer to the photograph as an artifact and highlight the time separation, establishing a distance between the viewer and the subject. I present my subject matter without irony, without self-referential elements. I present the image with immediacy and invite the viewer to step into the scene as a contemporary moment.
The subject in the snapshots I choose invites us to explore our concept of relationships, gender roles, the lives of children and how we work and play. Some of the figures are posing, engaging at the viewer directly. Some are caught unaware in a candid, fleeting moment in time. This makes the viewer part of the scene as an unseen observer.
The foundation of my art is drawing. The images are simply and boldly drawn. I paint thinly, and I try to keep the drawing visible if possible. I work directly on wood panel, sometimes integrating collage. The colors are rich and yet subtle, based on a limited palette, working off of the color of the surface. My style is rooted in the American Regionalism, American Realism, and Modernist movements. The paintings I create are unquestionably contemporary, yet classic and accessible.
In choosing snapshots and photographs that involve happenchance and unpretentious expression, I show how the mundane moments of life are rich with meaning. My style is transcendent of time or fashion, and evokes the essence of life and our ageless human existence.
Leslie Peterson's Work at RiverSea Gallery
Click on the following thumbnails to see bigger pictures.