“The figure will always be relevant and loaded with meaning in art”
Leslie A. Brown is a talented American artist based in California. When she was a young girl, her grandfather used to take her to art galleries, and later, after working in a very different industry, she decided to study art at the age of 23. Brown got her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Carnegie Mellon University and her Master of Arts at the University of New Mexico.
After finishing her studies, Leslie continued her artistic career and earned several awards and recognitions. She also participated in several shows and exhibitions and her artworks can be found in museums and corporate and private collections. She currently works as Art Professor and Gallery Director at Riverside City College.
In this Q&A, artist Leslie A. Brown shares with PoseSpace how she got interested art, why she paints her dreams, how she views the current state of figurative art, a valuable life lesson and more:
Can you tell us about your background and how you got into art?
I was very much encouraged by my Grandfather to pursue art. We frequently visited museums and art fairs on the east coast in my childhood. When I reached my early 20’s I was working in a glass factory, and as most things in my life I had to do what I didn’t want to do to figure out what I wanted to do. I applied to Carnegie Mellon University at 23 and later received my master’s degree from the University of New Mexico. That is where my discipline and practice began.
Which artist has influenced you the most and why?
I cannot really say a particular artist influenced me, but I do love the Italian painters of the Renaissance, Caravaggio especially. In my teens I was very inspired by the Pop movement. I followed Warhol, Larry Rivers, Rauschenberg and Thiebaud. My biggest influence however was a wonderful man and Professor from Carnegie Mellon, Herbert Olds. He is the finest draftsman I have never know and the kindest most generous soul. He allowed me to believe I had ability and could become prolific as an artist.
Where do you get your imagery from?
This is a question I am often asked. I do not go into a piece preplanned. I may collect some images or photos, but I never have a narrative or a finished piece or message in mind. That seems confining. I like the painting to tell me where it belongs and what it needs. Imagery comes from dreams, people I meet, models, or a specific recollection in time that was life changing. When I awaken from a dream and I can not decipher any meaning I say: “I guess I am supposed to paint that.” Painting can be like meditation or prayer for me. I am a firm believer in the Jungian philosophy of the Collective Unconscious. I often think I am merely a vehicle that has the purpose of expressing consciousness far beyond my ego or opinions.
How do you view the state of figurative art in current art culture?
The figure will always be relevant and loaded with meaning in art. Attached meaning is inescapable since we are human and obsessed with our own image, perhaps more now than ever. I have taught figurative classes for over 20 years and I know students still have an enormous passion for study of the figure. Because of the vast significance that can be attached to the figure I think selling figurative art is more of a challenge, unless you are creating very sentimental, “pretty girl” imagery. It is rare that the figure will match the sofa without attached meaning.
What do you think of PoseSpace? Do you have a favorite model?
I think PoseSpace is a great tool and I, along with my students, are supporters and have used it frequently, especially since our current situation really does not allow gathering for live model sessions. I use posespace rather than other model sites because the photography and lighting is excellent. I usually paint women, so I primarily use those images from PoseSpace. I also generally have a pose in mind and as I browse the website I look for similar poses that will fit into my composition.
Tell us one thing you thought you knew, that it later turned out you were wrong about.
Since I have entered my cronedom, I hope I am beginning to find my wisdom. In my youth, in the “Peace and Love Generation”, I believed my opinions and activism could change the world. I now know that change only comes from within and an enlightened consciousness, and that changing yourself is the only means to change the world. So, unless you are being paid to give your opinions, no one cares or wants to hear them, nor will they be swayed from their own.
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Hence the state of the present!
Interview by Andrea Miliani
Leslie A. Brown’s website: www.leslieabrown.com
PoseSpace’s page: https://www.posespace.com/artists/?ai=551