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This is the second in four abstracts with rice paper and watercolor collage following the first assignment that Gerald Brommer suggests in his book “Watercolor and Collage Workshop”.  I used 140lb rough Arches watercolor paper for this one, as he suggests.  I have not painted on rough paper before. It is going to take a little getting used to.  Once again, I was to start with a bridged pattern of strokes and splatters and washes, apply my different rice papers and then paint on top of that again.   Shapes, colors and tones suggest where I need to go.  This is so totally different from anything I have done before.  I had a little problem in a few areas where the pigment took differently and I think it is because my matte fixative had become thicker than is best. I will need to pay closer attention to that.

I want this one to speak for itself. Some of these images are surprising me. I know many relate to my thoughts and what is going on in the world around me. I think many can be interpreted in so many ways. 

The first attempt can be viewed here.


  1. Exciting and beautiful!

    • Thank you, Chris. I am truly starting from the ground floor with these.

  2. It may be abstract, but it speaks volumes to me. The red river – river of blood is very clear, as is what I interpret as “Gaia” hugging herself, and the symbolism just goes on and on. Remarkable “abstract” that isn’t really, more representationalism – if that is such a school. You nailed this one, Leslie.

    • You are probably correct. I looked up representationalism and it covered the whole gamut from the suggestion of something real which the bird could fall under to actual graphic representation. I liked one definition I read that referred to representationalism philosophically as an indirect representation of the world. That might fit best for what is pictured, here. That site said that psychology defines it as “Indirect Perception”. Wow…I am learning from doing these. I like your interpretation of the bird form. I never thought of “Gaia” so I learned more there. Yes. I saw the river as a river of blood. See how strange this venture is? I’m even talking about this painting as if I did not have a hand in painting it. Thank you for your interesting comment and saying I nailed it. I need all the reinforcement I can get on these.

  3. I LOVE it – it is so different from your usual work. The photo of the first attempt is also great. It’s a wonderful use of texture and paint to create something so beautiful. The book sounds great – it’s going to have to go on my ‘wish’ list. Thanks for sharing this.


    • Well. I have to say thank you for all you have shared of the abstract as I don’t think I would have been able to do either of the first two of these had I not exposed myself to your site and a few other bloggers who work in the abstract. Thank you for this comment, Jackie.

  4. There is an element of excitement in this one. I like it! Blessings to you, Leslie…

    • I think that is because I was compelled to carry that swirling form of a bird forward. It actually appeared in the washes of paint and applications of paper. Thank you, Carol.

  5. It looks exotic! There is a vast expansion of wings that is trying to touch infinity.I enjoyed looking at it for a long time.Thanks Leslie!

    • That’s exactly what I thought. This choice of primaries really took me to a different place, Padmaja. I like that idea of infinity very much. Thank you!

  6. This is so interesting! An agendaless painting. It seems you are gathering your kit, selecting what to take and what to leave as you contemplate another one of those less-travelled paths. I am enjoying following this process with you.
    And the work is so striking – all the best with this

    • You are so correct in that statement about “agendaless”, Stephen. It is quite a different experience to allow a painting to offer up the reference and guide me in the way it wants to proceed. The choices I make with it bring forward so many interesting things. This is definitely therapeutic to say the least. I am finding that these take even more time and contemplation than the others I paint. Thank you for following. I have two more to produce before I read furthur in the book. I want to get this down and understand these papers I am working with. Thank you!

  7. I see Mother Earth and the four seasons – packed with power and drama. I see the eye of a Watcher peeking through a red sky. You amaze me, Leslie. You are so incredibly open to sharing this with us. Thank you! What a process.

    • Wow. I love the idea of a “watcher” in the sky, Amy. Thank you for that. Mother Earth is a lovely thing to ponder and I am thrilled that this piece is bringing that forward. Some of my thoughts were so varied as the images came forward in this. These paintings promote a rather meditative state in me as I create them. I am trying very hard to concentrate on value and color and shape and hiding the papers to make them part of the support, as the assignment calls for, but there is a pull and direction with each that is causing a great deal of “wonder” in me. I am finding it so interesting that, though very personal, these speak louder than my other paintings. Thank you Amy!

  8. This is beautiful Leslie! I absolutely love the colors and the painting is so inviting…it just pulls the viewer in.

    • Thank you for saying this is “inviting”! I felt energized and somewhat shocked as I kept applying the reds. They began as an earthy red but screamed for this as I progressed.

  9. It seems that there is a bird sitting beside a river and sun is shinnig. The composition of colors remind me the african nature (forests and parots). It is really beautiful. Dear Leslie. by the way, would you mind telling me the pronunciation of your name with phonetic symbols. Thanks a million.

    • It does look African, Zeinab. I can visualise that and the sun shining, also. Thank you!
      I cannot find the symbols on my computer keyboard to do it justice so I will try this as an explanation on my name pronunciation. Leslie is Less-lee. The Less syllable has a short e sound and the s does have a sound. The s is not silent. It does sound like the word less in the english language. The lie in the second syllable of my name has a long e sound. The i is silent and the syllable sounds like lee. I hope that helps. You are doing fantastic with your english on your blog! 🙂

  10. I see a tornado and a flood in this one. I also see the red river to be blood for injuries of those that have been hurt in disasters, and a promise of hope in the blazing sun in the back, though I’m sure there is much more to be interpreted of it. I love all the vivid colors, Leslie. Excellent work!!

    • What an interesting take on this, you have, Debbie. I can perfectly identify with the swirling nature of the bird being tornado-like. I like it that you see the sun as a promise of hope. Everyone is helping me envision something new in this and I hope it inspires other artists to have more faith in their creations. Thank you for this insightful comment, Debbie! 🙂

  11. Beautiful art work as always…I love the use of the colors.

    • Hi Alonso,
      You do not know how brave I was to push into that vivid red like this. Thank you for the comment on color.

  12. Hi Les,
    Just got back from Sedona. This could be a painting of our special vortex. Beautiful color and flow, I love it!

    • Yes, Nancy, I believe it could. Thank you, too for the color comment. 🙂 We have discussed this form of painting, endlessly in the past. I don’t think I could have done this before now. I believe it actually started with the masa paper explorations.

  13. This piece has so much energy and motion. The color choices are so interesting; I can’t tell if you were feeling agitated and aggressive or energetic and celebratory. Regardless, I am LOVING this new series!!!

    • Are you psychic or is it because you do have experience in painting like this, Bree? A bold yes to agitated and aggressive and yes to energetic and celebratory. I was actually painting contradiction, here, and did not realise it until about halfway through. Thank you! I am enjoying this. I am beginning to understand the joy you feel when you paint…and something more that I think I would call discovery. I need to do two more of these square paintings before I can move on in the book I’m following.

  14. This is a great painting! The colors are strong and there is harmony and energy. It is exciting to see your painting style evolving because it is still you but you are taking risks. It is a nice freeing feeling to start a painting without a precise idea of what the result will be. I love this painting !!!

    • Thank you for talking about harmony, Sandrine. I think the red is what pulled it together, in the long run, and I have only used red this strongly in two other paintings. …and thank you so much for mentioning risk taking. I like what you say about “without a precise idea”. I want to become comfortable with understanding some of this process so I can help my students explore possibilities, also. Thank you so much. You sharing your techniques inspires me to feel as though there is something that can come of every attempt.

  15. WOWw I’m really loving this Leslie! The exuberence of colours are amazing and the piece is very expressive indeed! As you know, I am a huge fan of abstract work and at one time preferred it to representational art. Both have their merits though. There is a disruptive harmony going on in this mixed media painting which I find quite exciting – lots of chance versus choices which have really paid off! Well done Leslie for really pushing the bounderies with this!

    • You and Bree nailed it Lynda. Disruptive harmony is exactly where I was with this. I am just learning to appreciate this form of expression. It has been a long time in the coming. Your influence, through your blog, Echostains, , has helped me to see art from so many viewpoints. I thank you for that and this positive comment.

  16. Leslie, very nice with a clear center of interest. Working in this way can be very challenging but you are making incredible progress. Your experience and talent is apparent.

    • One thing I am learning is that I have a better idea, with these, when something is finished. Because I am working from the inside out, I don’t have a bunch of detail to decide about including or not. I don’t sit and argue with myself if I have included enough or captured a shadow correctly. I quite like that about this experience. Thank you for your supportive comments, Linda. 🙂

  17. Wow this is so interesting. To me, I see a dove or bird in the foreground and a river of red, with mountains in the background. So much movement and emotions with this one! I Like… I like it a lot!

    • Yes! I saw mountains, too, a gray-like barrier that became smaller and more indistinct as they came nearer the bird form. Emotional it is! I have seen that energy in your fantasy heros you have painted. I actually wondered about those while I painted this. Thank you for your encouragement, Ryan!

  18. Wow, Leslie, an amazing piece, I can see a small green figure grasping tightly to a small spherical-like object, amidst a swirling multi- coloured cape-like background, almost tossed in a furious firmament of rage. Imagination is a wonderful tool methinks. xx Pen xx

    • What a cool vision. We all hang on don’t we? I love that, “multi-colored cape” and “furious firmament of rage”. Oh to have words to express myself like all of you writers! Thank you, Pen. 🙂

  19. What an exciting painting! Perhaps this reprieve from trying to get the outer appearance of your subject just right has sparked something within you?

  20. I just love this one, Leslie. The colors used and the “sun” against the red is gorgeous. I see that bird-form that was mentioned too. It looks like I can see within it an embryo form. This is a very “active” piece to me. I really love it!

    • I think that is awesome that you see an embryo form. Part of what I was thinking was “new life”. The colors rather shocked me and I painted it. I did not intend to go so red, but the painting called for it in order to balance it….. Yes…active, almost frenzy. Thank you so much!

  21. This painting says excitement and big things coming. But it also makes me anxious. I really do like your new work.

    • BINGO! Anxious is what I felt as I painted into this. And it is about big things that have happened and a fervent hope for positive change. I am amazed that so much of what people have said really is close to what I was feeling and thinking while painting this. Thank you, Carol. Two more like this and I get to read on in the book.

  22. i think of the creative when i see this, the force of the creative and how it stirs excitement and even a bit of dread. passion, too. such an evocative expression this is, conjuring everything from the planets, to the sea, to ancient plummage supreme and all of it at once. i love it…

    • Yes. This was actually a very spiritual piece for me. It is about the promise of the light and the tragedy of bloodshed. It is about transformation. It is about the contrast of who we are and what we could be. Thank you, so much, Jruth.

  23. The same applies to my previous comment Leslie. You’re courageous and never afraid to try something new. Your colour work and values are something to be admired, and that’s why I follow you.

    • I feel I have to try new things. At first I thought it was because I would become bored. I don’t think that is the case. I teach and I want to be able to make an attempt to understand different approaches to the use of watercolor. These lean toward the abstract and I have felt so incompetent in assisting those students who lean that direction. Plus….some things work for some artists and not for others. Thank you for this comment and for following me. I have missed you, recently, while you have been healing.

  24. Wow, there is so much energy in this.
    May i dare to presume that like with me, abstract does not come naturally to you?
    Because this is where i get confused with the form, whether or not it should be intentional.
    I’m only saying that because with this one there seems to be some definite structure as if you have subconsciously planned it out a little bit.
    I don’t mean to sound rude, it is a fantastic painting. 😀

    • You absolutely hit it on the nose. Abstracts do not come easily to me. …and it is perfectly alright for you to ask that. I believe I began to see definite structure early on in this particular piece. I don’t know about planning. I did not sense any beyond the normal building toward a center of interest and attention to composition. I found what I could make of the shapes I saw appear and brought them forward. You are not rude. Never have been. I would guess, as close as I can describe the experience of this painting would be to say that very definite thoughts hit me about what a red river might suggest and the story continued to pull out that bird-like shape from an oval and a circle that had appeared in the paint applications. This one was definitely created from the inside of me out onto the paper through the things I saw that already existed. I am experiencing a great deal of awareness that our subconscious plays a huge part in creating this way. I felt as though a child discovering a story therein. Thank you, Richard! 🙂 Excellent comment and food for thought.

  25. Leslie !!! This is fabulous ! Joyful, stunning, full of life !! You are on a roll! This is spectacular and very exciting !
    It does not have to have a meaning, but if you wonder, you might want to sit quietly in front of it with a pen in hand, and ask it “what are you telling me ?”, then let your hand write, without stopping, without censoring, just free writing. You will be amazed at what comes out !

    • Is this like “automatic writing”? I have heard of automatic drawing, too. I just have never been brave enough to try it. I don’t even know why I think of bravery in relation to the exercise, lol. Perhaps I have met my self critic. I know I had to travel somewhere inside myself to create these and they come from more than just my mind. I learn. Thank you, bigtime, Isabelle.

  26. This is truly gorgeous, Leslie! I can’t believe I’d missed it and not commented before!
    I’m experimenting a bit myself at the moment with mixed media. I wonder if I’ll end up with anything as good as this? 🙂

    • Thank you, Val. Yes. You will, in answer to your question. I am totally amazed by what trying something new brings to the table. I think it refreshes our spirit in creating this thing we call art.

3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. By Dawn « Leslie White on 12 May 2011 at 12:39 pm

    […] Thank you for the keen perceptions that you are all offering me on these abstract paintings. It is helping me to “let go” and learn from this experience. I am enjoying the process.  One more to go before I can read furthur in the book.  If you would like to view the first attempt, it is here. The second attempt is here. […]

  2. By Red River the Metaphor | Picking Cherries on 12 May 2011 at 10:10 pm

    […] recently painted this: I was working on it the night the President announced the death of Osama bin Laden. I began […]

  3. […] Others I have created in this manner are here, here, and here. […]

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