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 until nearly 20 years later. “I didn’t like assignments,” Singer said, “I need to paint what I want to paint.” 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.
Singer is a painter of portraiture, often anonymous -- meaning that the subject’s likeness is not important to her. The figure is a study of light and shadow upon which she builds, embellishes and then erases. In her many self-portraits, her face is sometimes turned away or obscured in some manner, often by her hair falling across her face. Thus her identity is intentionally obliterated. In this way, the viewer can complete the painting using his or her imagination.
Fashion, particularly when it is over the top, is a source of inspiration. Singer’s “Embellished” series sprang from a visit to a Dolce & Gabbana shop where the bold designs sparked a desire not just to wear the styles, but to paint them. The outré fashion elements endow the work with elements both of the moment and timeless.
Artists who share Singer’s passion for the figure who have influenced her work, from 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 have been sold through galleries and Saatchiart.com and Artfinder.com.
For me, the human figure has always been the most interesting and challenging subject to draw or paint. I started drawing at an early age -- doing pastel portraits from pictures in Vogue. Today, I still love fashion, and it's a recurring theme in my work.
Some may think of clothing as merely functional, but I see it as a means of communicating who we are and how we are feeling. Combining fashion illustration with traditional portrait painting techniques, I strive to create images that are stylish and fun -- while also conveying a message of empowerment.
I paint in oils, and use various media -- including pencil, charcoal and pastels -- for drawing. I have studios in New York, NY and Galisteo, NM, two places of great (albeit totally different) style, both of which provide ongoing inspiration for my art.