Painting Statement

Leslie Cain interprets the Northwest landscape in an exciting new way--using pastels on gessoed board.
This fresh approach, not requiring glass, allows the viewer to experience a new pastel technique that approximates an oil painting.
This clean, fresh method combined with striking imagery has earned Leslie Cain the reputation as a top pastel artist in the Northwest. The show’s new work is testament to her roots as a farm girl who loves the land.
From the land and waters of the San Juans to the fertile valleys of the Eastern Washington, Leslie’s pastels encompass the iconic Northwest landscapes we long to experience.

Roadside cutbanks, waterways in the bottoms winding through clumps of trees onto open ground where the wind meets you from the southwest….These elements have shaped my visual reference system as surely as the winds and water have shaped the Walla Walla valley, depositing ideas/shapes here and eroding others there. I find I have to keep moving here because it is a place of so much movement: flowing on the asphalt lines of roadways by the neighboring farms, down streams and ditches that irrigate the crops, along wind currents that bring the next county’s top-soil our way.

I’m a farmer’s daughter, my connection to the land goes deep. When I need to remember who I am, I find myself walking the ridges or standing ankle deep in the streams, easing back into that place of connection. My first love has always been drawing, my primary medium pastel (colored dust, go figure). My approach and execution is that of a painter building the image with line, working the pastel into the surface with rags, erasing out detail, working and re-working until we ‘fall into’ the place.

My farm background definitely influences what I’m drawn to in the landscape. Farmer’s, in their way, are always imposing an abstract idea over natural forms, creating a synergy- -nature respected, directed and guided. The harmonious agreements between man and nature, the abstract manipulations of natural forms—that balancing act that is good farming is also good painting.

Coming to the islands is an interesting result of this momentum, this movement, that washes us through our lives and on downstream, to eddy in pools with others, then rushing solo over those rocks, washes us up on varied shores, coughing and sputtering but essentially okay…Look around. What do you see, feel, hear? Resonances? Ah, yes…..there it is.

I paint the land because I am of the land. I ‘ground’ in the dirt, I move with the wind and light and water that makes this place, or pausing, let them move over me. My pastels are doorways to those places of connection where, stepping through, we can remember who we are, why we’re here.

View Artwork by Leslie Cain in Person

Come see these pieces first hand. We are just a short walk from the ferry and an excellent destination for your visit to San Juan Island.

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