Artist of the Month

Leslie Farber studies an in-progress work; photo by LaVerne Kyriss.

Leslie Farber: Abstract style offers creative freedom

LaVerne Kyriss

While she never took any formal drawing classes, Leslie Farber has always drawn. For many years, she drew realistic pictures of people, scenery, even still life. “My grandmother was an artist and she encouraged me to draw,” Farber said. “We had art class in school growing up, but art was never even a true hobby for me.”

When she moved to SaddleBrooke, Farber decided to explore her artistic interest and took a few classes through the SaddleBrooke Fine Arts Guild. “I tried painting in oils but they are smelly and take a long time to dry. I tried watercolor and found that’s not a very forgiving medium for realistic pictures,” she said. She continued to dabble and found art supplies at estate sales. “I wasn’t investing lots of money and was getting good quality materials. The classes were fun and I came home with something I created.”

The breakthrough for Farber came during a Picasso class the Guild offered. “Robbie Summers, Guild member and instructor, commented that my work was too tight. She advised me to let go,” Farber said. “I painted every day for six weeks. Robbie told me to paint whatever I wanted to say. She encouraged me by noting that I didn’t have to make it look realistic. She even said I could change the colors.”

“Everything just clicked. Since February 2018, I’ve been painting mostly abstract images. I start with a pencil and put shapes down. Most of them turn out to be people. A story pops into my head about the developing piece. All the characters have names and all have a back story. They tell me the story as I paint,” she explained.

“All my work these days is watercolor and permanent marker. Robbie is queen of the Sharpie,” Farber smiled. “I begin in pencil, outline in Sharpie and use watercolor to add color. I paint the eyes first. They help tell the story. I finish with two coats of spray varnish to protect the image. I’ve done more than 100 pieces so far in this abstract style. Robbie opened the door for me to be free.”

“I’ve learned that we shouldn’t let anyone tell us what we can or can’t do in art. The Wednesday Guild non-critiques have also been really encouraging,” she noted. “At first, I was hesitant to bring my work to share. But everyone is very supportive and offers help. No one assumes you have or don’t have specific knowledge. Everyone freely shares without judgement.”

“Just do what feels good and have fun,” she advises residents wanting to give art a try. “It makes me happy when I’m painting these images. I laugh while I’m creating from my imagination,” she smiled.

Farber said she’s not tied to any schedule either. “I paint when I feel like it. Sometimes, it’s two or three hours in a morning. Sometimes it’s in the middle of the night. Sometimes it’s once a week or every day for a week. I work on our dining room table and usually have my supplies out.”

Most recently, Farber began experimenting with watercolor inks on photo printing paper. “They come in a brush pen and are really fun to work with. I like the bright, vivid colors,” she explained. “Some of these images have turned out to be bugs and some are people. They still tell me their stories,” she smiled.