Leslie Stoner grew up in northwest Montana on a 50 acre mink farm tucked deep in the woods of the Rocky Mountains. Her close observations of darkness and light started early. As a child, storms raged in and out of her home. To escape she spent most of her time outdoors, racing through the fields of stinging knapweed, playing hide and seek with the trees, wrestling with the creek, or cocooning herself in a burrow until the thunder had gone.
Those light-stippled woods of her childhood would continue to feed her ongoing engagement as an artist with what lies beneath and what rises up; the gleam of found treasure and the slither of movement; what is protected and what is revealed. The darkness is a safe place, a hollow offering shelter in the quiet calm of the mind. Upon observation lies an inky, playful swerve beneath a bright reflection. A weight lifted, released. Mark of a scar, spin of a tail, growth and rest. Engaging the imagery of the natural world, often playing with notions of scale, her paintings bear clear marks of the fire in which they were created, revealing the unsettling beauty of scarred textures, gradient mists, scattered pockmarks, and sooty webbed lines. Her abstracted landscapes resist a single narrative, instead creating a space for discovery, revelation and renewal.
Leslie Stoner ‘s large studio is nestled on the edge of a forest looking out onto an array of plant life that creates the shelter and privacy in which she craves. Wild bunnies, deer, coyotes, chipmunks, dragonflies, frogs and a variety of birds including a Great Horned Owl can be seen from where she paints. Collections of shells, stones, skulls, and tiny intricate statues and artifacts adorn her windows and shelves. Her walls are embellished with paintings in various shapes and sizes. She finds inspiration from her surroundings and listening to a myriad of singer/songwriters who weave together visual landscapes using their poetic voice. Early in her career she managed the studios of encaustic artist Betsy Eby and realist painter Bo Bartlett and simultaneously graduated (Summa Cum Laude) with a Bachelor of Arts from Cornish College of the Arts, double-majoring in Painting and Photography. Her work is exhibited and collected throughout the North.
I grew up in Northwest Montana on a farm tucked deep in the woods of the Rocky Mountains. I now live on a remote island in the Pacific Northwest and my imagery is a semblance of both environments. I balance my studio time between encaustic painting and drawing large-scale mazes.
I paint with encaustic, which allows me to slow down my thoughts and reflect inward. As I work, the image evolves in layers according to the chances of the materials and the seasons of my emotions. Because the medium is organic, layered, and hard to predict, when painting I play at the intersection of risk and promise. My paintings are about human emotions, fears, anxieties, self-doubt and how we embrace them. The imagery is rooted in abstracted nature, reflecting what lies beneath and what floats above, with an emphasis on where the two meet. I believe that everything beautiful has some darkness. What I paint is a reflection of my struggle to find inner peace with the dark and the light.
I simultaneously create large-scale maze paintings using archival ink on wood panel. As a young artist, I was constantly doodling as a means to cope with stress, anxiety and also to retain information while in school. This gave my hand something to do while my mind was active. Over the past few years, I found myself longing for that precise control you have with a pen and ink and so I started drawing mazes again. Working on large birch panels I selectively choose interesting forms in the wood grain and from that create an abstract land or sky scape incorporating a maze with a beginning and an end and plenty of dead ends and twists and turns along the way. I find it easy to lose myself in the process and it’s very meditative for me to spend hours a day in my studio drawing these repetitive, shifting forms. On this scale they may appear as a seemingly impossible journey, much like life, yet each is solvable if you take your time and persevere.
– LESLIE STONER