We had the good fortune of connecting with Lesley Humphrey and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lesley, how do you think about risk?
Over these 63 years if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that the whole of life involves taking one glorious risk after another; Everyone I know who leads a truly ‘successful life’, and I don’t mean that in terms of finances, are risk-takers. Risk involves leaving the programmed path, the status quo, and even your family. Imagine the risk I took when, at 23 and dissatisfied with the opportunities and life I was living in the industrial Northwest of England, I moved to L.A. to live and work in America for a while, and I am still here 40 years later!
When you’re dissatisfied with the life/art you have, and begin truly searching for a new way, I believe you get a sign, a way forward; When that path appears, you have to be really brave, because it will likely be out of your comfort zone. It may challenge your success, your income, your beliefs, your friendships even, for there are less and less people who understand you the further you diverge from the ‘well-trodden’ ways. Yet, as creative beings, go we must, for in doing so we are following the guidance of our very soul.
I’m talking life, work and art here. Risking the status quo is always uncomfortable, because people who love you; families, patrons, collectors and yes, even galleries are worried about change; Cavalier ideas make them uncomfortable, and they want you back, where you’re understandable (and salable). For example, I was with a great gallery for 15 years when my life and work changed….when my younger sister died in 2005. Ravaged by emotion, my work became driven by internal content which replaced the representative images that once populated my canvases. My work became more abstract, more expressive, and infinitely more emotional. The gallery and I had achieved great economic success over the years, but now he was adamant I stick to my ‘usual’ way…. He had no place for my new aesthetic, and said it would confuse my collectors. I ‘pushed the boat out’ anyway, sending out my old and new work to a new gallery in New York as an experiment; Only the new works sold. It was a signal to me to change. I remain grateful to my first gallerist, but I had to let him go… and I haven’t looked back.
‘The path’ is often quite lonely at first, but eventually it becomes populated with new, fascinating friends who have also gone their own way; Indeed, I have found that the more I shed my old skin, I became a more unique version of myself, and met the most incredible people and opportunities (including becoming the official 2011 Kentucky Derby artist.) People you could only have dreamed of meeting cross your path; Yes, life becomes an incredible adventure on ‘the road less travelled’.
How do you find your unique path? There’s only one way; It involves risk. Uncomfortable risks. Life-changing risks, then you follow my credo and take a leap! Leap, and the net will appear!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My art is born these days from emotional triggers…. As humans, we have so many; I have so many. Even though I love painting people, I’ve always been known as a horse painter.
As I’ve matured as an artist, any image that may be present in my work are really symbols to help portray my inner life, my emotions, and horses are often the way I transfer those emotions to the canvas… These are some of the reasons why: From being a very small child, horses have always been a part of my life and precious to me. They are individual vehicles that get us through the world, and when one is riding, one feels more attuned with nature and more grounded somehow. They have no voice yet they convey so much by gesture, condition and balance (just like a good painting). They don’t look like anyone you know, so their artistic ‘communication’ is less cluttered with ego somehow.
I am indeed fortunate to currently have a solo exhibition of 37 works in “Saved By A Horse” at The Pearl Fincher MFA in Houston which will continue through the summer. Over the years I’ve have exhibited in museums, art institutions and even some blue chip galleries throughout Britain and the United States. I’ve received lofty commissions, painted world champion racehorses and jumpers; I even became the Official Kentucky Derby Artist in 2011 which brought me quite a lot of success… But the most important thing is…at my heart, I am an inspirer, a teacher. Like my beloved mentor Dick Turner, I feel it’s an obligation to pass on what I know… I love to give others a way to see and paint, and consequently to no less free themselves! I am the one who passes the torch as it were.
Visit my website, Instagram or Facebook to see my videos and lessons.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
I love to go to the museum district and the Museum of Fine Arts of course. Always check that out. I love the restaurant too. You can sit outside or inside while you look at the beautiful art glass on display there. The bayou… I love to go down to The Dunlavy restaurant for lunch with my son, and sit outside on the bayou. I love to walk along the many great, new bike/walking trails that have spring up around the town. Then there’s Discovery Green… You’ve got to get an ice cream, have a walk around Discovery Green watching children and families having the best fun amongst the current art installations and cool things there.
Being a horse-lover, I mostly live and hang-out north of the city. My studio is in Tomball over DaVinci Artist’s Gallery. Tomball is a very cool town with unique, delicious restaurants, galleries, antique shops, and lots of festivals. It’s a great walking city with large sidewalks and parks, right downtown! For great home-cooked food you’ve got to try Goodson’s Cafe or Mel’s Diner. We love to eat Mexican food at Ranch Grande and Ciscos too. For Barbecue you cannot beat the award-winning food at Texas Chocolate and Barbecue, Tomball. When this virus loses it’s grip, my friends and like to go “drinking and drawing” at a wonderful equestrian facility in Tomball; Haras dos Cavalieros. Especially when they’re getting ready for a show you can sit outside Thursday and Friday on a wonderful patio, eat, drink and watch gorgeous Lusitanos and Andalusians riding by. You really can’t beat it.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
So many people have influenced and inspired who I am today, but I would be nowhere without my mentor, the late artist Dick Turner of Houston. He built the scaffold which upholds every aspect of my work today. He taught me to see, inside and out and I shall be forever grateful to him for the gift of being able to interpret, see and paint ‘Light’. It is this gift I try to pass on each and every day through my own lessons online, (see website) and in workshops. I’d also like to mention a great book: “The Artist’s Way to Creative Recovery” by Julia Cameron. The book taught me introspection; how to dive deep within to heal, find authenticity and the untold gifts that accompany truth. It changed my life!
Linkedin: Lesley Humphrey (Sorry, can’t figure out how to put the link here.)
Facebook: Lesley Humphrey’s Art Page: https://www.facebook.com/lesleychumphrey/
Youtube: Lesley Humphrey: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1cjNmGBP9LRog9JADAnNFQ
Tandem: 24 x 26″ oil on canvas by Lesley Humphrey The Mother: 36″ x 36″ oil on panel by Lesley Humphrey Old Tapes: 32″ x 48″ oil on canvas by Lesley Humphrey Confidence, Control, Commitment: 16″ x 20″ oil on panel by Lesley Humphrey Winter: 30″ x 30″ oil on panel by Lesley Humphrey