Leslie Wu

Leslie Wu

When I’m not in the studio I am paddling on Puget Sound, or walking along it’s shores. I grew up kayaking and camping in the Adirondacks, along the Saint Lawrence Seaway and the Carolina Coasts. I’ve lived in Upstate, NY near the FingerLakes and in the Midwest near Lake Michigan. Now I live in the North West on Vashon Island. Where ever I have lived, these particular stretches of seas, lakes and rivers go with me. They are in me every bit as much as I am in them.

I am influenced by the subtle landscape paintings of the 19th century Luminists, who were focused on the effects of light and atmosphere, especially Sanford Gifford. John F. Kensett’s compositionally reduced paintings interest me as well as the haunting, understated solitary moments in Edward Hopper’s work.

I begin painting by remembering my childhood weekend camping trips–feeling those landscapes in my mind awakens a sense of freedom and serenity. On site I shoot hundreds of photographs and back in the studio I work from memories of past and present experiences and the photos. I work in oils but begin with many charcoal sketches to distill my feelings into simplified compositions which allow me freedom to focus on light and form when resolving the paintings.

Sometimes I collaborate with my father who is a wonderful photographer and I’ll adapt his images of our camping trips from the 50‘s and 60‘s into my paintings. This is where the figures in landscape began for me. Now when I’m camping and see children and adults acting like children I photograph them to celebrate nature’s inherent, self contained power to uplift.

I meditate daily to bring calm clear energy to the work. To further express the power and serenity of landscape I’ve increased the scale of my paintings to allow me to feel the expansiveness of the place and the awe that I experienced as a child and continue to experience now.

Work by Leslie Wu