ABOUT ME (LESLIE)
If someone asked when I began to walk, I couldn’t say. But I do know when I began to ride. I was only 3 and I’ll never forget the ponies at the fair, weaving their way through a maze of panels to take their riders on an adventure greater than traveling in circles. The moment I saw my first horse, I was hooked. I couldn’t get enough of them, and every one I saw from that moment on, I would excitedly exclaim, “look at the horse” with such overwhelming happiness, it was as if nothing in the world mattered when in the presence of these magnificent animals.
Growing up with 3 siblings, and as the daughter of a fabulous artist and mother, I spent a great deal of time entertaining myself by painting and drawing. At the age of 3, I painted the perfect rendition of “the horse” as I saw him; spiritual, majestic, and vividly colorful. Horses had captured my heart with their beauty, their grace, and the language of their soul.
Like most young girls, I spent my time fantasizing about horses and enthusiastically drew picture after picture of my perfect horse with his flowing mane and tail adorned with fresh roses. As I grew older and entered college, confused by the fast paced world around me, I took the roads in life that led me away from the horses, away from my art, and away from my own self.
I was no longer following my passions in life, but rather following the path of external pressures. I found myself living in a world, guided by societal expectations and “shoulds”, rather than by my own whispers of intuition.
I believe that we are so often influenced by what other people think or “believe” that we tend to go against what feels right to us. Our emphasis on the external influences become so ingrained that we forget that our own path, our best path, is to listen carefully to our own inner wisdom, that which we know to be true in our hearts, and follow it instead.
Horses are amazingly sensitive beings with whom I’ve shared my purest emotions. They are my teachers. They have been the calm in my life, teaching me patience, forgiveness, and how to stay present and grounded. They are the mirrors into our inner selves and respond to authenticity and the presence of being.
Many years passed, many lessons were learned, and many attempts were made to pound a square peg into a round hole. It was no coincidence then, that when I learned of the organization, United Pegasus Foundation, which rescues hundreds of foals and fillies (PMU foals) each year that are the byproducts of the drug industry that creates Premarin, I remembered what it felt like to fire the passions in my heart. It was at that defining moment and the series of moments that followed that I became intensely aware of the path I wanted to take in life. It was the same path I was on when I entered into this world, only I had forgotten what it looked like. There is a sense of “knowing”, a tranquil state of excitement that soothes the soul when one encounters that “one thing” they were called to do. For me, this quest fulfilled the three qualities I desired most; to be surrounded by horses, to enlighten through creative expression and to have a cause or purpose of great importance.
As I picked up my brushes and invited horses back into my life, I was blessed in the rediscovery of myself. I vowed then to dedicate my life to painting these “larger than life” colorful horses and to saving as many of them as possible through supporting UPF and other non-profit horse rescues. It is through my artwork and the presence of these majestic horses that hold my greatest hopes to change the world for the better.
Today, my work still reflects the deep connection I have for these majestic animals, and the vibrant colors portray the brightly energetic personalities they exude. There is a spiritual human-animal connection that we all have the ability to learn if we merely open our hearts and minds to the possibility.
Imagine what our lives would be like if life was not measured merely by our achievements or end goals, but rather by the process of how we lived every moment of every day…
Imagine what our life would be like if we sparked the passions we know to exist, followed our dreams, rediscovered our authentic self…
Imagine what our life would be like if we took that “horse-crazy kid” for a ride and watched their face light up, grinning from ear to ear…
Imagine what our life would be like if we could just walk outside and hug that horse every morning and be in his presence, in the moment…
I think that we are the ones who would be blessed far beyond measure, for they give the gift of truly unconditional love.
Being in the presence of horses, to me, is just as powerful as riding, oftentimes, even more so. My love affair with horses began at age 3, and has been, as Ralph Waldo Emerson so eloquently says, a “grand passion”. Painting horses became the passion that arose out of being so incredibly inspired by the horse. Their spirit, their soul, their grace and forgiveness, their ability to teach us how to be present and be still is one of the most incredible gifts to the human race.
Horses inspire me beyond words; they bring color to my world. Through my eyes, I see them in color. Colors have energy, frequency, vibrations, and it’s no different than all things, as all things are made of energy. Some horses, like my Sam, I find I can only paint in shades of red. He was one of the most calm, independent (i.e. not “herd” bound), and quiet horses I’ve ever known, the embodiment of unconditional love, and I often referred to him as my “Zen” horse, but sometimes, when he felt frisky, he was full of the most beautiful “fire”, prancing as if he floated above the ground, head high and arched, graceful, tail up in the air, fanned out in all it’s glory. He was exquisite in his beauty and I was awestruck every time he moved that way. He was a sight to behold. Sam was also an 1800lb 18.3hh Percheron Draft Horse. (In layman's terms, he was REALLY big….)
Inspiration for me also comes from a lifelong interest in interior design, fashion, architecture, landscape design, and all things in nature that are untouched and pure, the colors in a sunset, in a cloud, reflections upon water, the changing colors in the leaves and the grasses, the sky before a storm. There is so much beauty to behold in nature, and when it comes to horses and animals, I can’t imagine anything more beautiful, spiritual, and inspirational.
There is a sense of “knowing”, a tranquil state of excitement that soothes the soul when one discovers that “one thing” they were meant to do. This quest, for me, had to include the three qualities I desired most; to be surrounded by horses, to enlighten through creative expression, and to have a cause or purpose of great importance.
I believe, without a doubt, that each one of us can, through our thoughts, our actions, our BEING authentic, create an exponential effect that will change the world for the better. My hope is that through my art, by capturing in vibrant colors, the individual personalities, characters and spirit of the horses and animals I paint, that through the “feelings” these portraits evoke, there will be a shift, a change in the person who is looking, even if it merely brings a sense of peace or a smile to their face.
Most of the horses and animals I paint have been rescued, but not all of them. Many times I paint the portrait of a beloved four-legged friend who has passed over the rainbow, one who has left a lasting impression on those left behind. They often leave hoof prints on our hearts, embedded deeply.
For those horses and animals who have been lucky enough to be rescued, I would like to acknowledge the efforts of all the incredible non-profits that have made, already, a huge difference in the world, for to save the life of even one animal, whose blessed life affects the lives of many humans, it is a beautiful thing.
Over the years, donations of artwork have been made to school fundraisers for children and art programs, Animal Save, Redwings Sanctuary, United Pegasus Foundation and many other programs and non-profits. There are many others I hope to continue to support in any way I can, and with your help, these amazing non-profits will continue to do their amazing work. Please help to support United Pegasus Foundation, United in Light Draft Horse Sanctuary, Iowa Animal League, The Cloud Foundation and All Seated In A Barn.