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What did the first dawn look like?

This is the third attempt in my “getting to know painting on torn rice paper”.  I absolutely do not know how the center of interest ended up in the center of the page.  I have mentioned that I am allowing the papers and the pigment to guide me and am using the shapes and colors as my reference material as I build these.  I build on what I see happening on the paper. I was well into two thirds done on this piece when it screamed, “DAWN” at me.  I saw the lone piece of rice paper in the upper right that said moon and the round shape appearing in the valley area.  The orange streak waving down from above spoke of so much energy that it caused me to wonder what it must have looked like on the first day the sun rose and brought color alive.  I had other thoughts like mountains and valleys, water and land, hot and cold and “energy”.  There was something volcanic-like that touched me, also, with this piece.

Made me wonder about that “first bite”, too.   🙂     

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.

*AFTERTHOUGHT:  Perhaps the first rising of the sun deserves the center of the page?


  1. Love it!
    Les, there is something very magical and energetic with this painting. Almost like the moon(female)resembling a birth. Colors, textures and movement pull a viewer into the composition.
    This series of paintings is exceptional.

    • I see it! Birth is “new”. The first dawn would be a birthing. Thank you for your insight through these paintings, Nancy. I never knew a painting could say so much to so many. What I have observed happening, here, is that everyone’s comments work with the image and they all tend to run together making the experience even richer. Thank you! 🙂

  2. if the dawn looks like that, i would love to get up earlier every day~!

    • 🙂 Thank you, Summer! Me too! I am here for the late night and rarely see a dawn but in winter. You have me chuckling. (laughing)

  3. I am certainly enjoying watching your process, and your results are a delight! Rice paper rules!

    • Have I been craving the addition of papers to my work, or what? It is fascinating to me to begin with some color washes and then sit and tear little pieces of paper and move them throughout the composition and then be surprised as I lay the second layer of washes in and watch what appears for me to work with and learn from. Thank you for this insightful comment, Kate. Rice paper certainly rules!

  4. I really admire you! do not stop learning,”Let go” and try more and more dear, Leslie 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Zeinab. I need that encouragement to “Let go”. There is a freedom to this that I had only heard others speak of but had not experienced, myself. 🙂

  5. Leslie, the energy in your painting seems to form a cross with the white sun in the center. I think abstracts are for breaking the rules. Why can’t a center of interest be IN THE CENTER? Great and brave work. Almost like a mosaic.

    • Hi Linda,

      Yay! You saw that. Those were my first swishes of the brush. I was not thinking cross, but just bridging the sides of the format and that was there. I had to divorce myself from that image as I layed in more initial coverage. The washes of orangey-yellow backed up into the cross. From that the sun emerged but I did not see it until two thirds of the way into the painting. I think it was the fourth day after I had done all my paper tearing and glueing and even several other applications of color. Do you ever get the feeling that another part of yourself is the driving force behind the brush when you create these abstracts?
      I think a center of interest can be in the center when there is a purpose to placing it there. I might say that the guidelines of composition (might be a better term) suggest that the artist place it in a sweet spot.
      I like your vision of mosaic. Thank you so much!

      • I do feel like something beyond my understanding often drives my abstracts. Wonderful accidents happen and I find myself using color and techniques in new ways. I think I am doing so many abstracts right now because they are not as painstaking as realistic work and I like the freedom, fun and flexibility I feel (even when I create mud which I did with a little painting yesterday!) I do agree that the rules of composition are there for a reason and we must break them with care – and there are times when I’M NOT CAREFUL enough!

      • Thank you for taking the time to answer my question, Linda. I know what you say about painstaking in realistic. I am hoping that, with practice, we can bring something of this to our realistic work, allowing for another visual to come through. I think Van Gogh did that. A LOT!
        I love what you said about mud and am chuckling….. I’ve decided there is mud in real life, why not in paintings? 🙂 smiling

  6. I do get a feeling of tremendous energy, Leslie, with so much movement portrayed. and that apple could well have been the tempting one which resulted in us being thrown out of Eden early enough to see the First Dawn, methinks? 🙂 Just tying them both in together in my mind.
    Great watercolours my friend. xPenx

    • Ha! You got it! That is why I posted the apple with this piece. Once I finally saw the dawn, I saw Eden, too. That is when I started smiling and wondering what knowledge we actually acquired with that bite out of the apple. Maybe, someday, I’ll find an answer to that in one of these journeys in paint that I take or through reading your poetry, dear Pen. Thank you so much for your vision! 🙂

  7. This painting is really magical – I could stare at it for a long time as it fills me with wonder. I love the colours you have used and the energy you have portrayed.

    Can I ask you how large your paintings are and also how long a piece like this takes you?

    Chloe xx

    • These paintings are 13.5 inches x 14 inches. Gerald Brommer suggested I make them 7.5×7.5 thus shortening the time and space it would take to finish them. I wanted to explore large brushes and more space than that so I roughly doubled the format size. These take me from five to seven evenings of about 4 to 5 hours to complete, so far. The glue of the rice papers is one or two evenings. I have had to go back into all three with rice papers a second time. It takes over night for that to dry before I feel comfortable painting on the surface of them. Thank you so much, Chloe for your comment! 🙂

      • I’m not surprised that they take so much hard work and time, because they really are beautiful xx

      • Thank you.

  8. Though you were intuitively guided through the process, it looks like everything was meticulously planned and that is the beauty of sixth sense!This is very very beautiful!
    My little nephew made a composition called the break of dawn and I am making a painting listening to it!

    • I can hardly wait to see your painting done to “Break of Dawn”, Padmaja! Thank you for saying this is beautiful. This intuitive process is so new that it is like experiencing playing with a new toy. I hope that feeling never wears off and that it helps me to see with renewed vision. Thank you!

  9. You, my dear, are on an incredible journey! Just keep moving one foot in front of the other and keep those awesome eyes open and the hands ready to move! I applaud you!

    • Thank you. That means a great deal to me coming from you, Chris. This is very new to me.

  10. Leslie, I hope you experience enough delight in/with your discoveries to crave this “letting go” process. Look at the joy in that celebration of light and colour. It is very spiritual. I giggled when I scrolled down to your apple.

    Thanks so much for allowing me on this expedition. It lets me feel like an artist. Plus I am sooooo encouraged to do likewise in my writing.

    • I’m still giggling about the apple, Amy. You are an “ARTIST”! I am amazed at the images coming through. It is helping me to learn to see even more than before and I like that very much. Thank you!

  11. Great colors and wonderful spontaneity in the Dawn painting, Leslie!

  12. I think the painting is fine as it is Leslie. This painting is so textural spontaneous and glorious! I love your new way of working!

    • I value your comment in regards to these, Lynda. I think this was the time I may have been ready to begin to see a painting evolve from and grow from what appears on the paper. You, exposing me to all the different artists, has helped me to broaden my view and my understanding of art. Thank you!

  13. It’s beautiful! It’s not always easy to try new technique, we have to learn to let it go… and not to be so concerned about the result.

    Great work, Leslie.

    • You can say that again, for sure. With these? I’ll head one direction and a couple brushstrokes can change the whole thing and I follow a new direction. But it is like a surprise happening on each piece of paper. I think I am rather getting to like this. Thank you, Anne. 🙂

      • Sound fantastic, Leslie! We, as artist, feed (and learn) on new stuff and “surprises”, that is what makes us evolve. 🙂

  14. I really admire your beautiful work, Leslie!

  15. I would love to see these in person. I can only imagine how the paint seeps into the paper and bleeds to the edges! How big are they? I really like these…I would really like to see them side by side.

    • Wait! You were Bad Jones and now you are Ronny. 🙂 May I address you as Ronny?
      This one is 13″ by 13.5″. The author of the book, I am following, suggested 7.5″ x 7.5″. I just couldn’t. In fact….I’d like these to be larger. The largest I ever paint is a half sheet which is 15 x 22. Thank you, Ronny.

  16. There is no question about it, this paper makes a painting gorgeous, Leslie, but only after your wonderful work that you’ve applied to it. I like that white glow in the center. It draws my eye right to it as it also brings all the other brilliant colors out to their fullest. Beautiful work!

    • Thank you, Debbie. This surface is such a different experience and to know that I can create any surface I want and see what happens is captivating. I did not think watercolor could rise to the occasion, but it sure does.

  17. I have to say that I’m in agreement here, that it does indeed look like the first dawn… It sure makes for a very interesting painting…

  18. It looks like hand of God touching the greens below and silhouette by the early morning sun. Interesting painting.

  19. this is stunning especially given you didnt set out to depict an amazing sunrise. i love the colours and warmth.

    • Sunrises are a bit overpainted, but it just may be because they are so luscious in our eyes? But you are correct. I did not set out to paint one. These paintings are a bit of a gamble. Thank you Nicola!

  20. I especially love the first one. You are making lovely, great art!

  21. *GASP* LESLIE!!! I think you have found yourself a new niche. I just cannot get over these vibrant colors and wonderful textures.

    • This has truly been an eye-opener for me, Bree. I can now see why you enjoy working in an abstract manner and allowing your image to present itself to you. Thank you for your inspiration by continuing to post art from time and your words of encouragement.

  22. I love the vibrant colors and how striking it is, Leslie!! “DAWN” is a very beautiful painting! Again very well done. Every now and then you come up with new ways of painting and new directions and this one is great!! Enjoy your week.

    • Thank you, Jan. This is probably the most aggressive of new directions I have tried to pour myself into. I rather like this. I hope I come away with an approach to assist those of my students who love working like this. 🙂

      • I like this a lot!! 🙂

      • You are dear, Jan. You have made my day!! Thank you.

  23. The colors and form in this painting are invigorating. Very beautiful and I rather like the center of interest being centered. It pulls me into the scene!

    • I never thought of that, Amber, the sun pulling me in. Thank you! See why I need my blog friends? 🙂

  24. The vibrant colors drew me right in and that orange flame in the ‘sky” captured me.

    I, like another person who commented feel that if dawn was like this i would be JUMPING out of bed every morning. (Instead of hitting the snooze button on my alarm clock 7 times and then dragging my butt out of bed.)

    Really beautiful. You are doing amazing work with the rice paper.

    • Aaaah! The visions we have in our head that we would be up to greet this. Just once, perhaps, just once. Maybe I could wake up enough to paint it, too! 🙂 Thank you for your supportive comments in regards to working with this paper. I need that!

  25. WOW, this is stunning ! I love the intense colors, the watery feel, the movement.. and also the texture ! Almost like a knitted piece in some parts. Way to go Leslie !

    • Now. You are the one person, Isabelle, that I can think of that has remotely and possibly witnessed a dawn, perhaps, close to this. I know you camp under the stars, at times. Thank you!

  26. They look great Leslie, I never tire from looking at your work or reading the narrative behind the process. Although you experiment, you always seem to have a handle on what ever you’re working on. I love the steps in the first painting and the light. The apple is lovely.

    • Thank you for this, Keith. I assure you that this work with the rice paper was a very new experience for me. I will say that my ability to even face it did draw on what I have studied about composition. Plus having painted from reference prepares one with a wealth of visions to draw from while creating just from what appears on the paper. The apple was a demo I painted for my students. We were talking about lost edges and how to create them and also how to soften some edges…… Thank you again for your comments! 🙂

  27. Wow, I am impressed with the process and the results of both abstracts. Very nice.

  28. What a beautiful reflective piece of work. This torn rice paper journey of yours is so interesting. The composition and the placement of the sun are not in the least bit troubling to me. Your sky is so full of energy and swirl and the forests and fields below seem to invite adventure. This is lovely Leslie.

    • Thank you for that comment about the placement of the sun. I love how you state the land forms as inviting adventure. That’s what this rice paper project is like for me. 🙂 Thank you, Stephen.

  29. I love this one. I particularly like the slopes and diagonals, they really make the piece. And wonderful constrasting colours – bright! 🙂

    • I wonder if viewing some of the landscape photography around your home affected how I continued with this one. Oh your beautiful rolling land around you, Val! Thank you!

        • Val
        • Posted May 25, 2011 at 7:15 am
        • Permalink

        It would be nice to think it did. 🙂

  30. I like both of these, but there is a certain something primal about the first. One you want to just look at and look at. Fabulous!


    • I think maybe it’s the swath of red that flies up amid the yellows that really speaks to me…

      • I noticed that swath of red, yesterday for the first time as being rather prominent.I knew it was there, but saw it with new eyes. Even the artist learns more about their own work, over time. thank you, Jamie!

  31. aloha Leslie – i havent read the comments so may be there is already a lot of response on that red/orange streak already.. . when you mentioned the “center of interest” being centered i thought “what?” then i realized what you meant. yeah. but it’s that red streak that throws it off center and makes it feel like it’s not really centered (to me). red is so powerful it can do that. amazing, yes. these are a lot of fun. way cool. …or… that is hot in this case of dawn. aloha.

    • You are right. I think we did discuss that red streak. It was one of the first strokes I applied and it held up throughout all the layers, thus giving truth to your comment about red and strength. I agree with you that it throws the sun off center and assists this particular composition. Thank you so much for your pointing that out. Your keen eye for composition has helped more than once.

  32. god how i’ve missed having the time to enjoy your world of colors, leslie. this is a beautiful explosion of color. again…the creative. i see the moon and the sun here leslie. it looks like the first day, like a symphony of color bringing all life into being. big sigh of pleasure… 🙂

    • The sun and the moon were created on the same day as per the Bible story in Genesis, I believe. I see what you mean about the moon, too. Thank you, JRuth!

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