I remember the first acrylic painting I ever made. I don't know how old I was but I remember my mother sitting me on her lap and letting me paint from her colorful palette. I remember her telling me to always paint in one direction. But that's something I rarely did. I thought, "Why restrict myself?" I've always been a rebel.
It felt right, sitting up on a stool, dipping into the colors, placing them on the canvas. I remember loving the control of the paint. I loved the ability to start with nothing and end up with something, to move from a blank stark white to a painting filled with color. I could manipulate the medium into any images I chose.
As I got older I realized that I didn't have to just make things that were pretty or representational; I could make things that were in my head. I could tap my thoughts and emotions and express them in paintings. I could capture my fantasies and fears in a way less fleeting than my imagination, putting them into art, something tangible for others to see. The more I realized the power I had with the brush, the more I painted. I began to see other people become inspired and moved by my work. My work grew into something bigger than me and turned into a tool for communicating with, inspiring and transforming the people around me.
Art is my passion. It is my past, my present and my future. With boundless colors, patterning and textures, my work is dense, filled with history and emotional expression. Through a wide range of processes and techniques - including drawing, painting, pouring and sculpting -my works become multilayered compositions that are translucent and reflect light and color.
My work reflects the human experience. I paint what I know and what I feel primarily using abstracted or imaginary figures and landscape. My interests are emotional expression, conceptual thoughts and diverse aesthetics. My subjects and stories are personal; yet they are intended for every person. We all experience the same thoughts and feelings along our journey through life, each of us having the same core, meant to feel, think and reflect.
Stemming from my need for growth, self-reflection and expression, my work is ultimately a tool for the public. I want to inspire people, make them feel. I don't want them to view my work just as a reflection of me and as an aesthetic product; I want them to look deeper inside themselves. My art is open and honest, something I achieve by not holding back, rethinking, or covering anything up. This purity encourages people to trust themselves and live their lives in the same way I make art.
I paint because I must, because I have to. I want to create beauty and express myself in this world where so much is forgotten and falls by the wayside.
I do my best not to forget or ignore. Painting is record-keeping; it is a cataloging of time. It's a proof of my effort to live and of time spent. Therefore, my purpose as a painter is one of self-preservation and self-expression, with a desire to create a record of time and change the world.
I want to touch the world. I want to make an impact on the earth. When I was a boy, my vision for change was so grand and overzealous; I set myself up for failure. But now I see that things must happen in small waves. Changing the world means starting with myself. I must begin with one small painting, but still think about filling museums.
Think big, start small... think big, act real.
I work in Astoria, Queens, right outside of Manhattan. I love seeing the city from outside. When I'm in it I forget how big it is, but that's impossible when I look at the mass of buildings from across the East River. Every day I travel into the city on the raised subway, see the skyline and think, "Wow, look what we've done, look what we've imagined and built and live in." It's astounding.
Being an artist in NY means endless inspiration. Everywhere you turn is another person, building, piece of art, taste, smell. So many people, so many opinions, and so many backgrounds - the possibilities are endless.
Getting out and traveling is vital to my work as well. Seeing new places inspires me; how different people live and think is eye-opening. It becomes a mirror for me to examine my own existence, life, values and motives. I enjoy working on the road, so I bring small boards of wood and a pad with me when I travel.
But back to my studio in Astoria - it's wonderful. Light streams in through the east facing windows and continues coming through the southern windows all day. The loud noises on the street below remind me that I am not alone. The world is bigger than me, and I'm just trying to make it better.
People always ask me how I paint: "Do you come up with an exact image and then work from that?" "Do you know what the painting will look like?" "Do you just paint with your feelings?"
The answer is all the above. But in my heart I am a process painter. My paintings get made over time through multiple processes. I build all the surfaces I work on. I pour paint, I project images, I go crazy with color, and I draw painstaking patterns. In fact, I have never started a painting knowing exactly what it would look like in the end. I go in with images I know I want in the final product but I usually don't know exactly how I'll execute it. It becomes apparent as I work.
Painting for me is a journey, an exploration to the unknown. Like I said, it's often a mystery to me what a painting will look like in the end. But that's exhilarating! Sometimes I look at finished paintings and don't even believe I made them. They look as if they've existed for years.
The Drawing Room, Stone Ridge, NY
The Drawing Room, Stoneridge, NY, November
The Conran Shop Gallery, New York, NY, September
Deep Space Gallery, Kingston, NY
Heaven and Earth, New Paltz, NY
Manny's, New Paltz, NY
Mix it Up, Rhonda Schaller Gallery, New York, NY
On Faith, Rhonda Schaller Gallery, New York, NY
Small Rays of Hope, Rhonda Schaller Gallery, New York, NY
Crossroads, Rhonda Schaller Gallery, New York, NY
Erotic Art, Lyman-Eyer Gallery
Unison Arts, New Paltz, NY
New Century Artist Gallery, NY, NY
Samuel Dorsky Museum, Thesis Exhibition, New Paltz NY
3FU, Functional Art Show, Kingston, NY
3FU, Propaganda Show, Kingston, NY
Rhonda Schaller Gallery, NY, NY
Drawing Room Gallery, Stoneridge, NY
BFA, State University of New York at New Paltz, New Paltz, NY
Copyright © 2008 Julian Lesser