Why I Paint Figures — Bob

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Washington DC artist Leslie Nolan’s “Bob” 18″x14″ acrylic on canvas

I spent 33 years doing national security work for the federal government, travelling and working abroad in unstable, sometimes unsafe locations.  These experiences continue to directly impact my figurative paintings.

As described by Associate Curator Erica Harrison, Greater Reston Arts Center, the figures “seem to be on the fringe of existence, evoking distant thoughts of fleeting memories or dreams.”  It’s inevitable that my life experiences would evoke a general vulnerability of humans, as well as a celebration of resilience and the will to survive.  I find that regardless of culture, education, ethnicity, and social status, people all over the world have the same needs and desires.  They want safety and security. They desire a better life for themselves and their children.  My artwork reflects this universal concern of modern life.

Place a human figure in an image and immediately the picture takes on relevance.  It becomes personal.  It suggests a narrative. It’s open to questions – who, what, where, why, when.  For me, evoking these feelings and questions transforms the image into a deeper exploration of what it means to be human.

 

 

 

 

Rafe and Joao

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Rafe 30″ x 30″ acrylic on canvas by Washington DC-artist Leslie Nolan

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Joao 30″ x 30″ acrylic on canvas by Leslie Nolan, Washington DC

During our cold snap here in Washington, DC over the holidays between visits and dinners and Santa I was able to get in some studio time to do these handsome young men.

Each has style and attitude.  Going for a hip, cool urban vibe, I tried to imbue the subjects with relaxed confidence.  These would be perfect for any home or office setting that needs refreshening.  Happy 2018!

Just Finished Artwork

Gallery

This gallery contains 2 photos.

  Two acrylic-on-canvas paintings with completely different feel and affect.  One, young vital, upright and confident — the other, a study in motion and instability, tentative and anxious.   The colors remain the same, only reversed.  But, gestural brushwork and pose … Continue reading

In the Studio

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Washington DC Artist Leslie Nolan in the Studio

Making new paintings and enjoying the fall light coming in the studio windows. This fabulous sunny weather gives off an aura of well-being, which translates to lively, exciting work.

Forget painstaking, impeccably rendered images. I’m talking free-flowing gestures. Intuitive sweeps of the brush. It feels like endless possibilities.

Seduction + Gallery Talk

Yesterday’s Gallery Talk

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Artist Leslie Nolan with Gallery Director Twig Murray and Dr Erich Keel, retired Kreeger Museum art educator and historian

Lovely turnout with lively discussion at the Gallery Talk for my solo exhibit Seduction at Athenaeum Gallery.  Athenaeum is the jewel in the crown for the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association. A beautiful, grand historic building that survived the Civil War as an army hospital, it is situated in the heart of Old Town Alexandria, VA, two blocks from the Potomac River from where you can see the Washington DC skyline.

How did this exhibit come about?  I had approached Gallery Director Twig Murray about exhibition opportunities, and she promptly dropped by the studio to see for herself.  Immediately falling in love with the massive pink and gray painting of a face (60″x96″ “Pulled By What Would Be”), she then and there offered me a solo for the following year.

Two months ago, Twig selected the rest of the artwork, including, to my delight, several recently completed paintings.  Artists always favor what they’ve just completed, because they’re moving forward, growing, changing.  It’s great when a gallerist encourages innovation, taking a risk, so to speak, on something different.

Stop by and catch the show, on exhibit through September 17.  Co-sponsored by Susan Calloway Fine Arts, Washington DC.