Artist List
Leslie S. Self

Leslie Smith spent most of her summers growing up on the Vineyard, and like many others who have gotten the island’s sand in their shoes, chose to live here full time in 1976. Her first formal instruction was with the venerable Ruth Mead at the Old Sculpin Gallery at the age of ten. She was a fine arts major at Hampshire College, but once she moved here, life and other interests seemed to get in the way of pursuing her first passion. In addition to raising two daughters, Leslie has served on several local conservation boards and was active for many years with the Martha’s Vineyard Derby committee, on which she served as both vice-chairman and chairman. Leslie was also a contributing writer for On The Water magazine and occasionally took on commissions for work in various media. Until recently Leslie ran a light tackle and fly fishing charter business on her boat “Backlash”, taking pleasure in showing her clients not only how to fish for stripers and blues, but also the beauty of the Vineyard.

Only recently has Leslie returned to the arts, painting in both pastel and oils as well as rediscovering the Vineyard through the lens of her camera. She uses her photos as both inspiration and reference for her paintings, and finds it helpful to be able to capture a moment for future interpretation. She was introduced to pastels when taking a class offered by island artist, Ellen McCluskey, who suggested to Leslie that she show her work. “It was very gratifying to have someone of Ellen’s caliber, whose work I’ve admired over the years, justify what I was trying to do and to give me direction for the future.”

Being a new convert to pastels, Leslie enjoys the immediacy of working with the soft, pure pigments which lend themselves to being able to “finger paint”. “ I love how I am able to blend and layer the colors until I feel that I’ve achieved my goal, “ she states. “Pastels are an incredible medium to work with, and there’s the added plus that you don’t have to wait for them to dry like oils.” Leslie’s favorite things to paint are skies. Having run boats for most of her life, she’s well accustomed to having to look to the sky for clues as to the ever changing weather that is uniquely New England’s. “Being on the water, you are always keeping an eye to the sky and it is always evolving. I hope to convey in my work how the sun and clouds, the wind, the fog all affect the colors and mood of a given scene. I’m still in the discovery mode of learning how to manipulate the pastels, which in of itself, is very exciting.”

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