Leslie Sills, Artist, Author, Art Educator


RECENT PAINTINGS & WORKS ON PAPER

  • Promise, oil on panel, 16 x 16", 2018 PROMISE
    oil on panel, 16 x 16"    2018
  • Artist (with Dracula), oil on panel, 36 x 24", 2017. THE ARTIST (WITH DRACULA)
    oil on panel, 36 x 24"    2017
  • Rescued, oil on panel, 16 x 20", 2017 RESCUED
    oil on panel, 16 x 20"    2017
  • Le Marché, oil on panel, 18 x 24", 2016 LE MARCHÉ
    oil on panel, 18 x 24"    2016
  • Bedtime, oil on panel, 18 x 24", 2016 BEDTIME
    oil on panel, 18 x 24"    2016
  • Safe (in Nigeria), oil on panel and watercolor paper, 18 x 24", 2015 SAFE (IN NIGERIA)
    oil on panel and watercolor paper, 18 x 24"    2015
  • Bonheur, oil on panel, gouache, watercolor paper, ceramic, 11" x 14", 2014. BONHEUR
    oil on panel, gouache, watercolor paper, ceramic, 11 x 14"    2014
    Bonheur is based on a photo from a fashion magazine of a teen-age girl in the sun. It wasn’t clear where she was but she wore a straw hat that allowed the sun to make a pattern on her face. I was intrigued with that idea and started to play with it, knowing that I couldn’t really create a three dimensional hat on a two-dimensional girl. I thought she was very beautiful and drew out my feelings of youth and play, the times I visited islands, the tropical waters, and the bright, white light. Her hat, clothing, and necklace are all invented as is the landscape.
  • Bonheur, oil on panel, gouache, watercolor paper, ceramic, 11" x 14", 2014. BONHEUR
    oil on panel, gouache, watercolor paper, ceramic, 11 x 14"    2014
  • Saved, gouache, oils, acrylic, fiber, 12" x16", 2014 SAVED
    gouache, oils, acrylic, fiber, 12 x 16"    2014
    Saved came from a N.Y. Times photograph of a girl, age three, who had been pulled from rubble after a bombing in Aleppo, Syria and was reunited with her father. The intensity of their connection, the way in wh ich their bodies fuse, and the mixture of sadness and relief in both of their faces compelled me to paint their story. The background in which they are placed is all my fantasy as I thought about bombed holes in cement walls.
  • Saved, gouache, oils, acrylic, fiber, 12" x16", 2014 SAVED
    gouache, oils, acrylic, fiber, 12 x 16"    2014
  • Dad - AIDS - Dad. gouache, oils, rice paper, and fiber, 12 x16", 2014 DAD - AIDS - DAD
    gouache, oils, rice paper, and fiber, 12 x 16"    2014
    DAD-AIDS-DAD is an homage to Alysia Abbott’s profound portrait of father-daughter love in her recent book, Fairyland – a memoir of my father. Having lost her mother in a car accident at age two, Alysia was raised by Steve Abbott, an openly gay poet, in the Castro District of San Francisco shortly before the AIDS epidemic. The emotions of the young Ms. Abbott are so visceral in her book that I felt compelled to create a painting and contacted her to ask for more images. With printed out photos from her Facebook page, I painted her father in various stages of his life surrounding Alysia, elongated, like a paper-doll. This image is based on Alysia, from the jacket cover photo, a time when she and her father were dressed up to play a game.
  • Dad - AIDS - Dad. gouache, oils, rice paper, and fiber, 12 x16", 2014 DAD - AIDS - DAD
    gouache, oils, rice paper, and fiber, 12 x 16"    2014
  • Recess, gouache, oils, and fiber, 12 x16", 2013-14 RECESS
    gouache, oils, and fiber, 12 x 16"    2013-14
    Recess – Since 1994, I saved a notecard with a reproduction of a painting by Bessie Nickens, an outsider artist who memorialized her childhood in a book of her paintings titled Walking the Log: Memories of a Southern Childhood. The card shows three girls playing Double Dutch (jump rope with two ropes) in the country surrounded by glowing autumn trees and a hazy, orange sky. I loved Double Dutch as a child and was good at it! When I found a black and white photo of an almost toothless girl with an irrepressible grin (from an international art exhibition of women artists), I knew I had the perfect model to represent my pleasure jumping. The girls turning the ropes were inspired by two of my students, Gianna and Willa.
  • Recess, gouache, oils, and fiber, 12 x16", 2013-14 RECESS
    gouache, oils, and fiber, 12 x 16"    2013-14
  • Homecoming, oil, gouache, acrylic, and leather, 9 x 12", 2014 HOMECOMING
    oil, gouache, acrylic, and leather, 9 x 12"    2014
    Homecoming represents the return of a boy and his family after being displaced by civil war in the Congo, 2013. I worked from a photograph published in the N.Y. Times, struck by the boy’s deeply thoughtful expression, hand on his chest, and standing in relief to the vivid patterns of the women’s skirts. The landscape and the clothing are imagined but based on many photographs of the country and its people.
  • Homecoming, oil, gouache, acrylic, and leather, 9 x 12", 2014 HOMECOMING
    oil, gouache, acrylic, and leather, 9 x 12"    2014
  • The Attack, gouache, acrylic, and cotton, 12 x 16", 2013 THE ATTACK
    gouache, acrylic, and cotton, 12 x 16"    2013
    The Attack – In April 2013, the Boston Marathon bombings shook the world and especially those of us here in Boston. Perhaps because I teach children and feel so connected to their lives, I was devastated especially by the death of eight year old Martin Richard. The news printed many photos of Martin before the tragedy but no one spoke of exactly how he died. Having lived in Europe and viewed many Gothic paintings which vividly portray death, I imagined Martin’s final moments.
  • The Attack, gouache, acrylic, and cotton, 12 x 16", 2013 THE ATTACK
    gouache, acrylic, and cotton, 12 x 16"    2013
    The Attack – In April 2013, the Boston Marathon bombings shook the world and especially those of us here in Boston. Perhaps because I teach children and feel so connected to their lives, I was devastated especially by the death of eight year old Martin Richard. The news printed many photos of Martin before the tragedy but no one spoke of exactly how he died. Having lived in Europe and viewed many Gothic paintings which vividly portray death, I imagined Martin’s final moments.
  • BFF, gouache and oils, 9 x12", 2013 BFF
    gouache and oils, 9 x 12"    2013
    BFF - When I began this body of work, my seventeen year old poodle, Ginger, had recently passed away. She had lived through many of my life changes and so it seemed unthinkable to not have her by my side. Using a photograph of myself at age eight, I painted us together sitting on a rose-covered chair, in an imaginary field on a cloudless day – all to say that no matter the place or time, we would be best friends forever.
  • BFF, gouache and oils, 9 x12", 2013 BFF
    gouache and oils, 9 x 12"    2013
    BFF - When I began this body of work, my seventeen year old poodle, Ginger, had recently passed away. She had lived through many of my life changes and so it seemed unthinkable to not have her by my side. Using a photograph of myself at age eight, I painted us together sitting on a rose-covered chair, in an imaginary field on a cloudless day – all to say that no matter the place or time, we would be best friends forever.
  • The Secret, gouache and acrylic, 9 x12", 2012–2013 THE SECRET
    gouache and acrylic, 9 x 12"    2012–2013
    The Secret began with a magazine photo of these two Japanese school girls. I was drawn to the pure delight in the face of the girl hearing the secret. Her expression reminded me of my childhood, before texting, when whispering secrets was common and something special. The patterned background came from my admiring a kimono in a book titled Japonisme: The Japanese Influence on Western Art Since 1858 by Siegfried Wichmann.
  • The Secret, gouache and acrylic, 9 x12", 2012–2013 THE SECRET
    gouache and acrylic, 9 x 12"    2012–2013
  • The Unexpected, oil and gouache, 12 x 16", 2013 THE UNEXPECTED
    oil and gouache, 12 x 16"    2013
    The Unexpected was inspired by the plight of Martin’s sister, another victim of the Boston Marathon bombings. I had no image from which to work but imagined her and her predicament. I chose to put her in a fancy dress sitting in a formal chair to contrast with the rawness of her limb. The dog is based on my newly adopted puppy from a litter I learned about unexpectedly.
  • The Unexpected, oil and gouache, 12 x 16", 2013 THE UNEXPECTED
    oil and gouache, 12 x 16"    2013
  • Looking For My Father, oil, acrylic, and gouache, 12 x16", 2013 LOOKING FOR MY FATHER
    oil, acrylic, and gouache, 12 x 16"    2013
    Looking for My Father – In May 2013, the N. Y. Times published a photo of a Bangladeshi boy, Hasibul, age ten, whose DNA was being used to identify the remains of his father who had died in the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse the month before. I took a special interest in this story as I grew up in the garment industry. My mother owned a dress shop and took me on buying trips. I, also, researched and wrote about another garment factory disaster in the United States for my book, From Rags to Riches: A History of Girls Clothing in America. It was Hasibul himself, however, who inspired the painting. His beautiful brown skin, brightly colored shirt, and soul searching eyes contrasted so poignantly with the black, gritty debris in which he was standing. The father image in the window is based on a photo of an actual victim and the Caucasian mannequin head on the ground had been there as well.
  • Looking For My Father, oil, acrylic, and gouache, 12 x16", 2013 LOOKING FOR MY FATHER
    oil, acrylic, and gouache, 12 x 16"    2013
    Looking for My Father – In May 2013, the N. Y. Times published a photo of a Bangladeshi boy, Hasibul, age ten, whose DNA was being used to identify the remains of his father who had died in the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse the month before. I took a special interest in this story as I grew up in the garment industry. My mother owned a dress shop and took me on buying trips. I, also, researched and wrote about another garment factory disaster in the United States for my book, From Rags to Riches: A History of Girls Clothing in America. It was Hasibul himself, however, who inspired the painting. His beautiful brown skin, brightly colored shirt, and soul searching eyes contrasted so poignantly with the black, gritty debris in which he was standing. The father image in the window is based on a photo of an actual victim and the Caucasian mannequin head on the ground had been there as well.
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