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Six of the Best 43: Painter Leslie Peterson Sapp

Boudoir II, 40 inches x 48 inches, acrylic/charcoal/collage on panel, 2022

Part 43 of an interview series in which artists reply to the same six questions. Leslie Peterson Sapp is a painter and printmaker based in Oregon, USA. She makes painting and prints that call to mind mid-twentieth century magazine and book cover images, and film noir mystery. You can see more of her work here. Other interviews on this blog are available here.

Philip Hartigan: What medium/media do you chiefly use, and why?

Leslie Peterson Sapp: I use acrylic paint and paper. This is because I enjoy being able to collage paper and combine it with paint. Back in college I used oils, which are a far more sensual experience. But oil rots paper, and once I started working with collage and drawing, I switched. Now I am accustomed to the short drying time: it has a completely different rhythm than oil paint.

PH: What piece are you currently working on?

LSP: I’m working on a piece I’m calling “Boudoir”. It’s a large piece (40 inches x 48 inches). It is of a femme fatale in a white gown, reclining on an emerald green chaise lounge. On the floor in front of her is a stack of books, and a bottle of champagne and two glasses, one of which is toppled over. It’s very 1930s glamour shot, but the books bring a bit of a twist to it.

Lace, 40 inches x 40 inches, acrylic/collage on panel, 2020

PH: What creative surprises are happening in the current work?

LSP: My work has been created with more immediacy and fluidity than I have been working over the last several years. Previously, I would do drawings and small studies, and then resize the drawing and transfer it to a panel, then paint. This time I decided to skip transferring the drawing, and simply mounted it on a panel and started painting on it directly. It was different and very freeing.

PH: What other artistic medium (or non-artistic activity) feeds your creative process?

LSP: My big geeky obsession is archeology and ancient history. Not an artistic medium per se, but very visual and I find it relaxing and inspiring to read about it and watch shows about it. 

I also love old movies and I love to dance. I hope to begin learning flamenco dancing soon- I just have to sign up!

The Hanged Man, 32 inches x 18 inches, acrylic/charcoal on panel, 2021

PH: What's the first ever piece of art you remember making?

LSP: I remember trying to draw hands when I was very tiny, like kindergarten. So, I had two figures, standing side by side, with gigantic hands. I also used to make a lot of drawings of swans in lakes in the moonlight. Very moody, even back then.

PH: Finally, and you can answer this in any way that's meaningful to you: why are you an artist?

LSP: Because I am compelled to. Perhaps it's because I started so young, when I was very tiny, and people would marvel at my ability, so I think I identified with being “an artist” so young, that I never stopped. This isn’t to say that there haven’t been interruptions in my artistic practice. But I’ve never really identified as anything else.

If you liked this interview, and you'd like to keep up to date with the series, why not Subscribe to my Artist Newsletter via the link in the right-hand column? Thanks, and keep creating.

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