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Recently, I gave an assignment to my Creative Challenge class that brought up some interesting responses. The assignment was: Paint something “you” think is ugly and make it beautiful. Almost everyone questioned what I meant by ugly. Some responded that they could find beauty in almost anything. Others saw beauty in the ugly before they even began to paint. I thought all these responses were so interesting. One little assignment brought with it such thought!  As it turned out, not a one of their paintings was ugly. They all achieved beauty from something they thought was ugly.

This assignment made me think of something I learned from an instructor a long time ago. She said, “We all spend time creating drawings and paintings of things we love. The real learning and improvement takes place when we try something new. We have to rely on “seeing” the form, feeling the edges and become accustomed to something new.”  That is what happened with me, with the above painting. I chose the snake as my “ugly”. She almost immediately became beautiful when I studied all the intricate patterns and the shapes of her scales. I decided to give her a bit of a grin. The patterns of dark strips of color was there for me to do that. I learned it was not so much her looks that I thought ugly but how she had to constrict her prey and devour it whole. Just another example of how we categorize things, in our minds, without looking deeper.

If you study this carefully, you can see where I added some citra- solv collage.

I do not know what kind of Python this is. I did some searches and think it may be a Burmese Python by the markings. The Indian Rock Python has shapely patterns, also, but they do not seem to have that golden glow in the center of the pattern. Thank you to Wet Canvas for the reference image for this.


  1. This is absolutely stunning, it’s like staring at a real snake! You’re so talented:)

    • Thank you, Corey! Yep. I agree with you. She is sitting on my mantle and staring right at me. Glad she’s in paint!

  2. Exquisite!

  3. Wow, what an interesting idea for class as well as yourself. While it looks like a python, it also has an abstract beauty too it as well. And I love that you used some citra-solv papers. Beautiful piece.

    • This was fun, Carol. Did you catch the face in there in one of the papers? Thanks to you, I have so enjoyed including citra-solv papers in some of my paintings and so have my students! Thank you for your comments!

  4. Thank you for making me see how beautiful she is…

  5. OH MYOH MY!!!! I’ve eaten a lot of chocolate this week (yes, I know it’s only Wednesday…but nevermind…) I’m jumping up and down…feel the ground shake? This is soooo exciting. Those dirty coffee cups sitting on my kitchen counter have just taken on a new life….

  6. BEAUTIFUL! (But I love snakes…) Love the assignment idea, and your painting just glows.

    • I have a new found appreciation for them, now, also. This assignment really made me think about what kind of judgement I place on some things. Thank you, Anne!

  7. Exquisite!

    • Hi Jay! Thank you for this! I love that painting of Raven you have on your sight. Is he or she a new member of your family; I wondered?

  8. Fab painting Leslie!

  9. It sure is a fascinating idea, I love the patterns here making the work so beautiful, I have to agree that nothing created on this planet is ugly in its true sense. The wisdom in me says so, but my subconscious categorizes lizards as the ugliest and I dont have the courage to paint one. But you truly made me think with this post, thank you Leslie!

    • Thank you, Padmaja. I know what you mean about lizards and such. I actually have a painting of a lizard hanging on my family room wall that a friend painted and she brought out the best in him and made me see that. This was a fun challenge.

  10. I clicked ‘like’ when I saw this on a small screen but on a big screen it is wonderful – quite mesmerising!

    • Oh, thank you, designsweet. She’s growing on me. I think it’s the grin. 🙂

  11. Astonishingly good – so much close attention to detail and the composition works so well. It must have taken a long time to complete, especially as you also used citra- solv collage. Love the idea of finding beauty in something you consider to be ugly…although I’m not courageous enough to paint a spider.

    • Did you find the piece of paper with the face on it, June? I love using that ctra-solv collage, when I take the time, because it is time consuming but so much fun! I suppose I could get some interesting things just with cutting up any colored papers and may try that some time. Thank you for this comment. It is great to have you sharing your art with us again! I missed you!

  12. My secret long term goal of learning to paint/draw is to be able to show the beauty of any mundane or ugly thing/scene/person. This is spectacular!

    • Hi Nicola,
      I think you just stated why we all do this. There is just something that pulls us into this. Thank you for your visits and comments!

    • Inese Poga Art Gallery
    • Posted February 26, 2015 at 10:16 am
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    • Reply

    The execution is fantastic, but I no way can make myself look closely or paint things like insects, spiders or snakes. When I was very young, we used to live on a farmhouse, and there were snakes, in the nearby forest, too. Those were obviously not pythons which you painted so adorably, but I never wanted to do anything with snakes.
    I love your color choice for this painting, as well, so you definitely achieved the goal: painting something not attractive by their nature, but attractive in your interpretation.

    • Oh, one of my students did a close up of an ant and it was gorgeous! I didn’t even think of insects like spiders and cockroaches and things like that! Ha! Thank you, very much for the comment and the new idea! 🙂

  13. This is really beautiful, Leslie!
    Xo, Isabella

  14. So beautiful and intricate! And a very interesting assignment. I think I would pick an animal that is ugly but cute, like a frog or tarsier. 😀

    • I had to go look up tarsier, Cindy. Thank you for that. They are cute, but, oh my the eyes! I want to paint a toad, so I can identify with your choosing a frog. You already do so much creative work. I imagine you saying, “What if I tried this?” every time you sit down to paint! Thank you for this comment.

  15. What an interesting assignment and even more interesting that everyone could find the beauty in even those things others might consider ugly. I love that and it’s so true – everything has it’s own beauty (well, except perhaps factory farms – there is really nothing beautiful about those at all!) Your snake is amazing – they are interesting creatures and they are beautiful although I can see how their eating habits might make them seem initially ugly. I love how you always get us to think a little deeper about things.

    • Thank you for this, Nicola. I never even thought of factory farms…. I love the ideas we share across the net!

  16. Leslie, what a wonderful student assignment! So engaging and challenging. I’ll bet the students enjoyed this. I adore your snake! Stunning! Marian

    • This snake has grown on me, Marian. I still have him propped up in the corner of my family room. He just may have to get a frame and become a part of my everyday life. 🙂 Thank you for your comment and it is great to see you back to posting!

  17. Stunning! ❤️❤️❤️

  18. I love snakes! I often manage to sketch some while hiking. But nothing like your piece here! Stunningly beautiful! Oh I wish I had your patience!! Well done!

    • Thank you, Isabelle. I think he is going to find a place on the wall in my family room…. He is growing on me.

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