Featured Artist Lesley Atlansky

Artsy Shark presents the paintings of artist Lesley Atlansky. Enjoy her portfolio, and read more about her and see more of her work by visiting her website.



I like to think of my work as geography run amok. I take my eye for the physical landscape and shape it into slightly surreal pieces that are touched with emotion.  The shapes and patterns I see around me influence the spirits and topography of these ethereal dreamscapes: the curves of mountains and rivers, the density of clouds, the movement of limbs and leaves and hair.


My recent paintings have been coalescing around the idea of stellar nurseries, great reaches of space that are the birth centers for stars.  I’ve been turning these star birth regions into a world of my own invention, creating serene tree-like figures that swim through the cosmos, their curving branches cradling and nurturing the young stars until it is time to release them to the universe. My father died in 2009, and these paintings helped me express my feelings of holding close, and letting go.



I work primarily in gouache, though I do explore with ripped paper, oil pastel, acrylic and pastel. I use gouache in diverse ways, from thin washes to smudges of paint straight from the tube. I often apply salt and wax paper to the wet paint and leave it on until it is dry, revealing unpredictable patterns that I can embellish.



I am largely self-taught, though I did receive some art fundamentals when I obtained my certificate in Graphic Design at the Pacific Northwest College of Art. Ironically it was after the birth of my first child that I was able to find the time and energy to focus completely on my painting. I was a founding member of the Spiral Gallery Co-operative in Estacada, Oregon before moving to Portland three years ago. I was born and raised in Southern California, and currently live in a multi-generational household in Northeast Portland.


What are your goals?

For the short term I need to get myself into the rhythm and routine of being a full time artist. Both of my kids are in school full time now, leaving me with ample uninterrupted time to create. I’m working on getting my paintings shown solo in a venue in town. As for the future…I’d just like to have people like and appreciate my work. Right now my art comes from personal places, I’m not looking to change the world, and I just hope that what I do connects with people on a deeper level.



What are you working on now?

This is a good question! I’m at a bit of a crossroads right now. I was really enjoying the series I was working on, but I feel like it has run its course.  We had a big memorial for my dad this past June, one year after he passed away, and I think that helped bring me a lot of closure and the emotions I was bringing to my paintings just aren’t as intense as they once were. I’m going to be exploring a couple ideas I’ve had to see if either can take flight. One has to do with “chemo brain” and the struggle I have with memory since having breast cancer treatments in 2004. The other is a little less intense, dealing with maps and natural disasters and where people live (okay, maybe that is still intense!). I’m a bit of a map nerd, and I’m currently reading The Map as Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography by Katharine Harmon. Very inspiring!


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