First Friday artist draws inspiration from farm life
By Jessica Blomquist
As a little girl, First Friday featured artist Mary Leslie, like most little girls, loved horses and dreamed of owning her own. But it wasn’t until she was 32 years old that she bought her first, a quarter horse named Indy. Then four years ago, she and her husband moved from their home in the suburbs of Alpharetta to Madison and adopted a menagerie of other barnyard animals. As an artist, who primarily uses charcoal and oil on canvas, she finds inspiration from living on a farm with five horses, two goats, four dogs and four cats. Leslie has been painting for over 20 years.
“I’ve been drawing since I was old enough to hold a pencil,” she said. In 1984, she attended Savannah College of Art and Design, majoring in graphics and illustration. She then studied at the Atlanta College of Art.
Leslie began her artistic career painting murals in homes and at various businesses. A couple years ago, she combined her enjoyment of painting with her love for animals and began painting country scenes and her pets.
She enjoys giving the animals she paints a sense of personality, conveying their emotions to the viewer.
“People don’t even realize that horses have different personalities,” she said.
For example, she usually paints her younger horse Bleu in a manner which suggests his mischievous, animated spirit. “It’s mostly in the eyes,” she said, describing how she uses an animal’s body language and facial expressions to communicate their personalities. She also likes to show the communication between animals, again mostly conveying this through body language in her artwork. Though her own pets are more conveniently located for painting, she has also been commissioned to paint portraits of other people’s animals.
In addition to the First Friday exhibit, she has also shown her work at the Steffen Thomas Museum and the Humane Society in Eatonton. Her First Friday exhibit is entitled “In Country” and will feature around 12 works, including some photography.
The opening of June’s First Friday exhibit, sponsored by the Madison Artists Guild and The Shops at the Ice House Underground, will be held on Friday, June 6, at 7 p.m. at The Shops at the Ice House Underground, located at 271 West Washington Street in Madison. Wine and refreshments will be served. To see examples of Leslie’s work, visit her Web site at marylesliestudio.com.