MONTEREY — “Intersections,” in Leslee Carsewell’s own words, is named for the intersection of art, music, line, empty space, filled space, texture, “when things come together but there are spaces in between.”
“Negative space, be it dark or light, is as important as the line work,” Carsewell said. “The spaces in between inform the line work; the empty spaces act as escorts.”
Carsewell’s works are subtle. She doesn’t go into them with a specific meaning in mind.
“I am more interested with mark making than imbuing subject matter with meaning,” she said. “I want the pieces to be moments of intimacy.”
The exhibition, her third since 2015, takes place at the Knox Gallery at the Monterey Public Library and features 19 of her works, along with three photographs.
Carsewell had a great interest in photography, though the hobby has somewhat lost its appeal for the artist with the rise of camera phones.
“The composing that I did with the camera, that’s really helped me with the artwork,” Carsewell said. “That’s an outgrowth of doing photography
The artist began working on these mixed media creations in 2013, but has been involved in art in some fashion or another for her whole life.
Carsewell, a resident of Sheffield, grew up looking at and utterly fascinated by art. She remembers three books in particular that she would look at.
“One was Van Gogh, and one was a little paperback of Impressionist paintings, and one was a very large coffee table book about Lenardo Da Vinci.”
Carsewell would make her own doodles with colored pencils, drawing over colors to create new ones which she would gleefully show to her parents and their friends, earning her the nickname, “Leslee the artist” before the age of four.
Many of the works in “Intersections” began as designs for contemporary rugs, which Carsewell had originally intended to do digitally, though the suggestion was made by Jane Kasten, one of three partners of the Four For Art Gallery in Lenox, to paint them instead.
Carsewell’s work is in some part informed by her work as a graphic designer where she designed big ticket marketing campaigns, one of which was around the genesis of marketing for law firms, which was previously illegal; her marketing efforts were written about in the New York Times.
Carsewell worked as a graphic designer for 31 years, working on large projects for the San Francisco Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, as well as for various universities and museums. Additionally, her work has been featured in The New York Type Directors Club, Graphis, AIGA, Communication Arts, How, Print and Idea Magazines, to name a few.
The artist has a great love for classical music, which she often listens to while working on her art projects. Asked what she likes to listen to, Carsewell laughed and replied, “Don’t get me started.”
A few of her favorites, however are Ravel, Bach, Jordi Savall, Schubert and Beethoven’s late sonatas, Bill Evans, The Danish String Quartets albums “Wood Works and Last Leaf.”
Carsewell isn’t influenced so much by the mood of the music, but rather the pauses between notes or movements.
“Those are like mark making with the pencil, the emphasis almost comes from the spaces in between,” Carsewell said. “If they didn’t stop for a moment to let you absorb, you wouldn’t get as much.”
“It doesn’t send me down a certain path, it informs the path,” she added.
Carsewell, when she’s not painting, enjoys walking her dog, reading non-fiction, visiting France, and going to classical music concerts, in particular the Union College Concert Series in the winter months, which she has highly recommended.
Intersections will be on view at the Knox Gallery until March 3.