Leslie Singer attended a special arts high school and continued painting in her early college years, but stopped when she was 21 and didn’t pick up a brush for many years. “I wanted to paint the figure,” Singer said, “And I was frustrated by the emphasis on conceptual art at that time.” She became an English major and pursued a career in publishing and public relations leaving art behind. But when the man who was to become her husband asked her what her favorite painting is (Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring), it launched an ongoing conversation about art that led her back to palette and brush.
As a figurative painter, Singer approaches each work as a study of light and shadow upon which she builds, embellishes and then erases. In her self-portraits, her face is often turned away or obscured in some manner. Thus her identity is intentionally obliterated. In this way, the viewer can complete the painting using his or her imagination.
Artists who share Singer’s passion for the figure who have influenced her work range from nineteenth and early twentieth-century masters such as John Singer Sargent and Tamara de Lempicka to contemporary painters such as Michael Carson and Malcolm Liepke. Like theirs, her canvases depict highly stylized portraits that privilege mood and feeling over realistic representation.
Singer works from studios in New York and Santa Fe. Whenever she can, she paints from live models, but also relies on photographs. Her paintings are owned by collectors in the Americas, Europe, and Asia Pacific.
I am a figurative painter whose work is both feminine and feminist. Feminine, because as a lifelong lover of everything stylish, I enjoy painting fabrics, patterns, and textures and draw inspiration from the worlds of fashion and design. Feminist, because my subjects exude strength and confidence.
While I always start with a model or reference photo, conveying mood or emotion is more important to me than getting a likeness. I often use props or poses that create ambiguity. It's that element of mystery that draws the viewer in -- allowing them to create their own narrative and take something more personal from the piece.