Nature, particularly wilderness speaks to me. My work has long focused on human impact on the natural world and especially on issues of water -plentiful or no. I often begin work from aerial images or maps. The works in this exhibition which are aerial focused come from three main sources: a set of antique maps of the Mississippi River, images of the Leelenau Peninsula near Sleeping Bear, and aerial images from NASA’s collection of astronaut photography. The uniting concept for all are images of places where water or its absence have profoundly shaped the landscape – something I find deeply compelling. Spending a lot time outdoors for me means often spending a lot of time staring at the sky. Daydreaming, watching a storm come barreling down or a beautiful evening.
Unsurprisingly those skies become a big part of my painting. I grew up influenced by abstract expressionism and Asian brush painting. Even when working representationally I aim to work atmospherically and gesturally. I enjoy the physicality of working in encaustic and want that movement and physicality to come through whether I am painting from an aerial or a conventional perspective.
– Leslie Sobel