She glances out the back window at a waiting yellow taxi. Who is it that pursues her and why?
This is a piece that went through many changes. Originally I had multiple people in the street scene as if there where a bunch of people milling around. But as things developed I could see the figures were just a distraction from the real drama. I even considered taking out the figure near the door and just leaving the car- I still don’t know if I made the right choice. Don’t be surprised if you see another version of this one. (I often feel compelled to do certain images again and again.)
This one was just really fun. I loved working with the street light creating a cone of a lighter color. The back window of her vehicle creates a frame within a frame, and the dark color flows into her silhouetted profile and the buildings on the street. I tried to make a contrast with the bright yellow, the cool watercolor blues, and the flat dark brown/black.
Keep your eye open for a woodcut version of this piece!
In conversation about classic film noir, a common subject is that actors and actresses of color were relegated into narrow stereotyped roles, often as domestic servants of white protagonists. But of course, this didn’t just happen in the movies, it happened in real life, too. African Americans had limited opportunities and were often employed as domestics in white households. What individuality was denied or hidden?
And... who knows what she may know about her employers…?
It came from Out of the Past- from 1947, to be exact. This scene from the famous film noir inspired images in my head that I couldn't shake.
So, in April 2021, I took a video of myself in costume walking down the stairs. Then I created a large drawing from that video. From that I developed a painting... But, like many worthwhile endeavors in life, there were twists, turns, and backtracks along the way.
I love working off of colored, textured grounds. So, in early May, I got off to an interesting start by using purple watercolor and allowing it to drip down the panel.
I sized the image of the drawing in photoshop, printed it out on sheets of paper, and transferred a light image of it onto a panel. Then, using the drawing and the photographs as a reference, I started the painting.
I spent a bunch of time creating a wood grain effect on the stairs, thinking the reddish tone would enhance my purple shadows.
I also "closed up" the space, by making sure all walls, stairs and shadows were touching each other, enclosing the figure in with no way to "escape".
This all happened from early May to late June. I set Exit aside. I worked on other projects, such as The Hanged Man and Watch.
There may have been a beach trip or two as well...
All the while, I kept looking at Exit out of the corner of my eye... June ended... July ran its course...
I kept thinking... this could be better.
It doesn't have the glossy dark depth I had envisioned...
It needs... blue.
Here I am, paintbrush in mouth, glazing a layer of Prussian blue over my painting.
I also repainted the exit sign and made it larger.
I changed her shoes from black to white.
I even painted over the precious wood grain stairs I had worked so hard on.
Then, after all this, I realized the exit sign was no longer needed. In fact, it had become a distraction. Now that I had all my moody blues creating atmosphere, I wanted the woman to be the focus, as if a spotlight were shining on her. So, using a razor blade, I scratched it out.
With a tiny scrap of red paper and a bit of tape, I was able to see where to put my lovely vintage exit sign.
As I write this, the exit sign has been redone for a FORTH time-
Finally, finally, I believe it is done. It started in May, and ran off and on until September.
We live in a world of expediency, instant gratification and digital wizardry. But along the way, there has been a growing appreciation of the slow. For example, slow foods, artisanal cheese, vintage wine, and hand-made crafts are all important social and financial movements.
By sharing the process of my art, I hope to celebrate the slow and deliberate. Just like life, many artistic pursuits take a long and winding road. Part of what makes art, art, is that the artist takes the time to follow that road wherever it leads.
But those of you who have followed my art for a while know that it wasn’t always that way.
For many years I did work in a very different style, based on vintage snapshots of ordinary people. This body of work evokes feelings of wistful nostalgia.
They are boldly drawn with thin layers of paint over visible wood grain. It was a popular and satisfying method that worked for me for years before I felt the need to evolve and change.
The website is organized into three pages under Portfolio. Each image on each page has a clear indication of where to inquire about the piece, and if you feel so moved, how to buy it.
visit www.lesliepetersonsapp.com to see all my work, current and otherwise!
Another way to explore this earlier style is to visit previous blogposts, especially the years 2013 and before. Look at the Archive section on the right side of this page to investigate.
Here are the hotsheets with the sordid details, the true confessions, and the inside info on my artistic process. Learn how it all happens right here!