28 February 2017

Featured Artist: Leslie MacMillan

Leslie MacMillan is a past honoree at Women in the Arts’ “Celebrating the Genius of Women” art competition at the Orlando Public Library. 

Enjoy the exclusive preview of this art piece, never been shown before, from the collection of Leslie MacMillan.

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Silk painting, 30x24 in.

"Surreal-scape" was painted in the summer of 2016. I wanted to break away from my usual illustrative or figurative work and try my hand at a landscape. Albeit, a dreamed up landscape! I thought it would be fun to try incorporating some of my frequently used textures, patterns, and techniques, and apply them to a compose a rainforest scene. I considered including some animals, but finally decided to omit them, and focus only on the wildness of the jungle flora. It was an enjoyable piece to put together and I loved the results. It is a subject matter I intend to play around with more in the future.

On creating a silk painting-
My work almost always begins with a very small, very dirty little sketch, whose sole purpose is to get the idea I've just had, out of my head. It may even include some written notes and directions I can reference later. I often work on 3-4 pieces at the same time, so I tend to be otherwise occupied when I have a new idea and need to come back to it later. As a result, by the time I get around to my new sketches I generally have a few ideas to work from and a new batch of paintings to get to. Bundling the work together makes sense because the process involved in making the paintings contains a few steps and it's easier to go through each phase, which includes different tools and mediums, doing a few pieces rather than going through all the steps once and then starting all over again. Also finding the right silk anymore involves an online order and I have to plan my order to include more than one piece at a time.

There are many cultures that dye, paint, and batik fabric, with many different techniques and tools; and what I am most familiar with is the French Serti method. So, when I am ready to begin, I decide which of my little sketches I want to use and I make much larger (I like working on a larger scale), much cleaner drawings on a waxed type paper. Then the drawing is traced in bold, dark lines with a Sharpie marker. Now what I do varies a bit from tradition and I omit the use of stretchers. I adhere the paper directly to my cut silk with heat, thus eliminating the need for the stretcher and allowing freedom to create in any shape or size I like without being restricted to what size stretcher I may have. An added benefit of working like this is that my drawing is there and visible through the fabric, which makes it very easy to follow my design, use intricate detail, and have excellent control over my line work. As controlled as it can be anyway. Silk painting is not conducive to perfectionism, as it is a very imprecise medium. You have to be able accept that there will be mistakes and be OK with them. I have learned to embrace the accidents and rarely let them fluster me any more. Once the silk is adhered to the paper I begin tracing my lines on the silk with the resist medium. I use gutta which is a bit like rubber cement, in an applicator bottle. When the line work is dry it is alright to begin painting on the dye, and it is largely like water color painting in nature. In this phase I will often incorporate texturing effects which can be made with different salts or alcohol applied to the fabric. Depending on what I am trying to achieve, this may be the final step of the process, however I usually batik my work, which comes after the silk painting process has dried thoroughly. I have an old 70's electric fondue pot I use to melt wax, which I apply to the picture, then strategically crumple and re-apply, and paint, as needed. When that has had a day to dry I remove all the wax and reveal the final image.

My style is always evolving and I am always learning new things about my medium and I am finding inspiration in new places all the time. Drawing has always been my joy and I have dabbled in illustration. When I was a teenager I was introduced to silk painting by a family friend and started experimenting with it then. Life took me down a different career path away from art, and for many years I just did whatever art projects suited in me, in a wide variety of mediums familiar to me. Several years ago I was able to focus more on art and decided that it was time to go pro! I had honed my skills and passion for silk painting and realized that I had something unique to offer. I like the idea of stepping outside of the bounds of what is traditional silk art and entwining it with illustration. The end results are often a curiosity and something that you don't see everyday.

Search: Leslie MacMillan.
Contact the Artist: les.koren@gmail.com
Contact Maria: womeninthearts@gmail.com
Visit Women in the Arts: www.womeninthearts.org

This event is sponsored by Women in the Arts, corporate and private donors, Studio-T Photography, and Baterbys Art Gallery, in partnership with the Orlando Public Library.

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