Center for Spiritual Care

Integrating Body, Mind, Spirit & Creativity

Center for Spiritual Care 20th Anniversary

Currently Showing 

At the Center for Spiritual Care


Leslie Stokes

An Abstract View

January 8-29, 2021

Call 772-567-1233 for an appointment to view


To contact Leslie Stokes, learn more about her and view other works, go to her website:

Leslie Stokes walks  Andrew Galuska through her exhibition at the Center Jan. 13 on his "Wednesdays at 1" live stream. Click here to watch.

The Art of Leslie Stokes: Paint and Color

Leslie Stokes grew up in a home with a secret service agent father whose job was to protect U.S. presidents and a mother who danced, sang and painted.  She learned discipline, but she also learned to let loose.

       “My mother taught art, and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a brush in my hand,” Leslie says. “All through school, I did what my mother did.  I painted. By the time I graduated from the University of Kentucky, my painting was becoming looser and I was moving toward abstractionism.” 

       But she wasn’t there yet.  During college she had summered in France, studying at Monet’s garden in Giverny.  That, she remembers, helped her become much more aware of her brushwork. But the real change was to come later.

       “I was cruising around the internet looking for paintings I was drawn to and trying to understand who I was as an artist. I found four or five painters I really liked and realized every single one of them had studied with Steve Aimone.”

       Aimone is a New York painter who taught at Stetson before starting his own art consulting business.  He teaches annual workshops at, among other places, the Atlantic Cultural Center in New Smyrna.  These are frequented by professional artists taking time to enrich their portfolios or hone their craft.  Competition for acceptance is stiff.

         “I got in the very first time I applied but I was a nervous wreck.  I mean, I’m a painter, but you’re hanging out with these nationally known artists who are selling in galleries all over the United States and there I am, the newbie. 

       “And that’s where it began.  I started understanding paint and color more than I ever had. My work started getting looser and looser because I developed this fascination with paint.  And that’s what really led me in an abstract direction.  Just seeing what paint would do, what came naturally with the movement of the hand and arm and the body -- and of course incorporating all the basics.” 

       Many of Leslie’s paintings have no discernible subject matter or inspiration. “They may have a certain feeling or they may be created from a way something I saw interested me or made me feel.  But they’re not paintings of anything, really.  I think they’re about how I feel emotionally about color.  How I feel emotionally about the brushwork and the energy it takes to create a painting.

       And that feeling is not always positive.          

       “A lot of artists will tell you that painting can be very diminishing to you as a person because it can beat you up,” she says.  “You start a painting and you think you have something in mind.  And then it turns into something you don’t want, and you keep working at it and you can’t figure it out.  And it gets really bad before it starts to get better.  And then when you get done, at least for me, I can’t even tell you how I did it.  I can’t recreate the things that I do.” 

       For Leslie, her art isn’t about beauty or representing an object. It’s an ongoing exploration.

       “I’m not trying to be a certain kind of painter. It’s more about the juxtaposition of the paint and the raw canvas.  It’s about the thick and the thin and the line vs the foggy.  It’s about the brights and the darks and making sure that things are harmonious.  It’s really about the surface and the brush and whatever comes to the surface and how I solve that problem.”

       But what makes people respond so emphatically to her surfaces? 

       “I think some of that is because many of my paintings have a certain amount of tranquility to them,” she says. “They’re a little mysterious and not totally solved.  People can look at the surface and kind of get lost in it without too much complication.  I think there’s a certain calming effect to them, but they’re not boring.”