Hello! For those of you who haven’t seen the previous episodes of Following Heart, this is a series about women who do what they’re passionate about for a living with the help of technology. We partnered up with Skype who gave us the budget to go out and film these stories.
This third and final episode took us to Canada to meet an artist called Leslie Watts. We rented an apartment in a small city called Stratford, which sits on the river Avon. Confusingly for us English folk, it is named after the British city Stratford-Upon-Avon, which is famously known as the birth place of William Shakespeare.
We found Leslie’s story because her recent portrait of her son Stefan had been featured in the National Portrait Gallery in London. In her submission, she explained that the portrait of her son had been painted using Skype. Since he lives in a different city, and the pictures she had of him didn’t offer enough ‘depth’, the video calling technology enabled Leslie to gain a more 3D perspective of his features.
We were intrigued. When we got in touch with Leslie she told us she was painting another piece; this time it was a diptych painting of her daughter and her daughter’s girlfriend. We were keen to see how she painted and to learn more about her story. We agreed that we would meet with Leslie almost every day for a week to capture her life as it is.
In filming the Following Heart series, we have had the opportunity to immerse ourselves into the lives of others to gain a better understanding of their passions. Leslie welcomed us into her home, introduced us to her dogs and showed us around her studio. She explained that she’d honed her skill in painting as an illustrator and had created artwork for numerous children’s books.
Having graduated into painting large-scale still lifes, landscapes and portraits it was fascinating to watch Leslie’s process. For Leslie, an average day of painting can be up to 14 hours and requires an incredible amount of focus. We were particularly fascinated by the medium she uses to create her pieces called egg tempera. Created by hand-mixing water, colour pigment, and egg, it is known to hold its colour and form for centuries afterwards.
On the last day we had the chance to join one of Leslie’s weekly classes in which she teaches local students how to paint using egg tempera. It wasn’t until I put the paintbrush to paper that I began to fully understand the level of skill and precision required to create the sort of work Leslie produces.
If there’s one thing we can learn from Leslie it’s the level of commitment and dedication she puts into her craft. We left Stratford feeling creatively inspired and having made a new friend. So with that said, it gives us great pleasure to be able to share Leslie’s story with our community.
Here’s the video…Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.