By Dreama Tolle Perry
My first introduction to Leslie came via her blog. I was shocked, to say the least, when I read the post that popped up on her Painting is my Passion page. If I had known then what I know now, I wouldn’t even have batted an eye, I would have realized it was not that surprising, maybe even normal for a Leslie idea — but I am getting ahead of myself. Roll back a few years…like to the 50’s.
I have been an artist for about as long as I can remember. Born into a family of artists, I grew up in the Appalachians– a baby boomer who learned early on the merits of self-entertainment–2 channels on a b & w TV does not an exciting life make–so art, reading, singing and the like looked pretty darn good from where I stood. Married at 18, a mother at 25, divorced at 32, painting jolted along and hung in with me through lots of life’s ups,downs, sideways, capsizing, etc. etc. Throw in that mix a new guy (now my husband of 20 years), a couple of cats, several moves, loss of a business and suddenly I am 50! Holy Macanonie how did that happen?? A grinding stint at the new restaurant my husband and I had opened and the extended illness and subsequent passing of my father set the stage for what was to become my new life. And it all started benignly with a blog. An art blog. Looking desperately for a way to reconnect with my creative self after an extended absence of such things, I had come across a daily painters blog. I scarcely knew what a blog was, but this blog thingy was full of smallish paintings and the artist was painting and putting a new one up every day for the world to see. And somehow I could see myself doing that. It was small. It was achievable. Anyone who has ever painted can attest to the fact of how daunting a big white canvas can be. Somehow, even in my weakened condition, I felt confident I could tackle a 6 x 6inch canvas and wrestle it to the ground! And so I began. Dreama’s Day to Day Paintings was born, just that quick.
Whereas I grew up in one house buried in the hills, Leslie grew up an air force brat all around the world. Where I was sheltered and shy, Leslie quickly got used to being the “new kid”, quickly making friends and has had lessons in ‘most anything you can name (just check with her siblings on this if you need details). Wife, mother of 3 very athletic sons, I don’t think Leslie has ever spent even 5 minutes in the slow lane. With oodles of marketing experience, she has done as many things in her adult life as she took on as a teenager. Like a lot of us though, she too had her own aha moment. A brush with a life threatening illness caused her to take a step back and think about what she really wanted to be doing. Sitting one day at her desk, hooked up to the oxygen that she had to use during her recovery and listening to an irate client on the other end of the phone…(well, I guess that would cause one to pause and think what in the heck am I doing?) she had her moment. I think how it came down after that went something like this. She said she would like to paint and her adoring husband and sons immediately went out and procured all the things she needed to get started. And start she did. She grew in her skill with her palette knife and with her marketing background decided, amongst other things, that she needed a blog. And so she began. Painting is My Passion was born, just like that.
So, there we were, blogging along, minding our own business so to speak. Each building our following, painting and posting. While Leslie was working on marketing and doing a bang up job, like with her email newsletters and such, I had ventured into holding 3 day workshops and was actively looking for new ideas to inspire my students with. And that’s how I came to stumble across Leslie’s blog one day. Looking for paintings for my students to use in a musical easel exercise that I had designed, I happened upon not just any blog post–but the blog post Leslie had done to celebrate her 50th birthday. As a gift to 27 of her close friends, she had painted 27, count ’em , 27 sailboat paintings in about 3 days. They were absolutely gorgeous and I was absolutely certain that whoever was behind this marathon painting streak was… crazy.
Which meant one thing and one thing only. I knew I was really going to like her! I emailed her that day to see if she would mind if I “borrowed” her images for my students to replicate in class. She agreed, although I am certain she wasn’t clear on exactly what she was agreeing too…. until a few days later she opened my blog to see 15 of her little paintings laid side by side all painted by the students in my workshop (that was only the beginning, every workshop I held produced another crop of “Leslie Sailboats”).
That was the start of what has become an incredible friendship and business partnership. Over the ensuing months, via email and phone calls, Leslie and I have become reliant on one another–sharing new found ways to grow our business like little kids sharing secrets. It has made work not feel like work. It has brought a sense of adventure to our journey together as artists. I like to think our sum of being together is greater than our individuality of parts. We challenge each other. We are competitive in every beautiful sense of that word, pushing each other to reach higher, farther, faster. In just the past 6 months we have each mounted solo shows, published books, sold more paintings than ever before, and now have our own blog radio show, Artists Helping Artists, that is listened by over 1000 artists every week.
It’s difficult to believe that we actually just met in person for the first time a couple of months ago. We first met, via our blogs, just one short year ago and we both feel like we have been friends forever. I would say I am not as easily shocked by Leslie now as I was that first day I stumbled across her 27 paintings in 3 days for 27 friends, but I would be lying. I would like to tell you I have adjusted, but again, I would be lying. There are days I am afraid to answer my phone or read my email or check my meebo…yes, I said meebo ( a form of instant messaging to further complicate your life with that Leslie got me into). She is always uncovering something new and dragging me along with her. And me with that stupid mantra of saying yes to life….I guess I am just in for many more normal times with Leslie and you know now what that means.
And all because of a blog.
Leslie Saeta is the owner Leslie Saeta Fine Art. She can be reached at: 626.799.8507 ~ http://www.saetastudio.com Visit her blog at: http://www.lesliesaeta.blogspot.com
You can find Dreama Tolle Perry’s blog DREAMA’S DAY TO DAY PAINTINGS ~ PAINTINGS OF FRANCE AND ITALY, FLOWERS AND CATS at http://dreamatolleperry.blogspot.com/