Leslie Thornton

Artist Statement

From running my hands through my cousin’s cookie tin full of hundreds of buttons of assorted sizes, textures and colors to growing up in my grandparents’ clothing store where we felt fabric before pulling any item off the rack to look at it – I have always been drawn to texture and color. Similarly, I love the way charcoal, pastels and crayons have their own distinct feel and speed as I move them across surfaces – and produce more of a 3D texture. I use these mediums as well as acrylic paint, graphite, charcoal, and ink blocks.

I live in a beach setting, so there’s always interesting things happening – whether it’s patterns on the sand in a low tide made by wind, ice and water or a colorful crabber’s buoy washed ashore. My compositions consist of fluid organic and linear shapes, abstract masses and spontaneous gestures and is mostly inspired by everyday surroundings.

I begin my paintings by laying down a background of acrylic paint in one or more colors. From there, I fill the canvas with both graphite and colorful marks – scribbles, lines and shapes. Then the dance/war begins - simplifying by applying larger blocks of color, adding more marks, removing some and repeating the process. New layers bring the opportunity to scrape back and reveal the gems hidden underneath. I continue the conversation with more layers of paint and mark making and more scraping. Each addition, even a small line, changes the entire piece and creates a new challenge. The problem solving aspect is my favorite part of the process. I enjoy exploring ranges of depth, color and movement to create work that holds together and becomes a balanced work that evokes a sense of physicality, energy, wonder and whimsy.

I am drawn to the idea of each person’s individual sense of beauty and how this is informed over a lifetime. Beauty ideals are unique to each of us – like a fingerprint. I make art that is beautiful to me and, hopefully, provokes a sense of wonder and allows imagination to carry the viewer away to another place. I am curious by nature and my evolution as an artist is reflective of my growth. Finding new color combinations, shapes, or marks that fit together is always a revelation to be celebrated.