I paint contemporary portraits, figures, and landscapes that reflect life today, but also have a timeless feel. I paint in oil because of the rich variety of visual effects and the sense of depth and realism it makes possible. At the same time, oil paint permits freedom of expression that is only limited by my imagination and the constraints of two dimensions. I am particularly drawn to create paintings because they have the ability to suggest the illusion of depth, even infinite space. For me, a painting has always been a window out of my physical world and into a world of my own making.
Each painting begins with a foundation of studied draftsmanship and archival painting techniques using high quality oil paint on stretched linen or linen mounted on birch panel. I am very conscious of archival methods because a portrait is often a record of a moment in one’s life that is saved for generations. Even if a painting is not a formal portrait, I feel compelled to make my work of the highest quality I can. Unlike some art today that is meant to be temporary or mainly conceptual, for me longevity is a central element as I hope my work can ultimately be viewed in the continuum of painting history.
I explore my portrait and figure subjects in a sympathetic way that reflects my personal interest in them as individuals or as archetypes in their community. I intend my paintings to be honest and approachable and speak to our common humanity and current issues. Like the great Renaissance painters that inspire me, I celebrate individuality and the unique character of my subjects. In landscapes, I revel in ever-changing light effects and the impossible beauty I find wherever I look. I enjoy the adventure and physicality of painting, the unabashed sensuousness of the art form, and the freedom to explore abstraction, realism, and anything in between.
Leslie Nutting was born in California, but has lived in New Mexico, New Jersey, Washington, DC, Massachusetts, West Virginia, Canada and Hong Kong. Although she originally intended to major in art, Leslie earned her degree in history from Williams College. Upon graduation, she entered government service as a foreign affairs officer, and over the years has had many opportunities to travel. Currently, she is involved in art education through the Carnegie Museum of Art. While raising her children, Leslie returned to art making. Her peripatetic background inspired her interest in people and cultures all over the world as well as in her own backyard.
In her current series, Leslie explores the people of her community in and around a small town in West Virginia. This rust belt region of coal mines and dominating steel plants along the Ohio River symbolizes American industrial decay and its people are known mainly through stereotypes. Through portraiture, figurative compositions, and landscapes, Leslie addresses this long-suffering population: tied to the land, coal plants, factories, and small family businesses in a world apart and left behind.