Leslie Nix in her LA studio.
The ArtBlitzLA team had the opportunity to visit Leslie Nix’s studio in Downtown Los Angeles earlier this month. After being stuck in traffic for hours during rush hour and mixing up the directions with the navigation system, all the stresses immediately melted away upon seeing Leslie Nix outside of her studio waiting to greet us. Nix has a bohemian spirit that is calming and charismatic–a charm that permeates her studio space. Nestled next to a large warehouse and some residences, Nix shares a studio space with her boyfriend, Damian Jones. The space is cavernous, you enter and maneuver through welding equipment and handmade furniture. Once you step through the doorway that separates Nix’s studio, it feels as if you have entered another world. The space is filled with color revealed in stacks and stacks of paintings, bohemian prints, chandeliers, hundreds of paint tubes and brushes. It smells like all the things one needs to make oil paintings, and the light even seems different. There is the distinct impression that something magic happens in this space.
Multiple layers of paint lead to rich color spectrums, which give Nix’s paintings a highly emotional quality that words and reproductions cannot do justice. An artist originally from Georgia, Nix has travelled around the world, incorporating all of her encounters into the many layers of color, meaning and pleasure. The imagery, though generally abstract, expresses Nix’s past and present experiences. After graduating from Savannah College of Art and Design with a BFA in painting, Nix travelled throughout the United States in a custom built house above her 1972 Ford pickup. Following her first stint in Los Angeles Nix left for the Czech Republic and Berlin for a period of time, where she continued to work on her paintings. Interestingly enough, many of the current pieces that she is working on now originated from her time in Berlin and years later are still considered works in progress.
I worked on them there for 5 years, brought them back. Feelings have changed; I kept elements of the experience and color from there. Inspirations form the city.
Over the course of an hour, Nix unveiled many pieces from her vast portfolio. We saw beautiful pieces from her ‘underwater series’ originated in Berlin, pieces from the recent White Balancing show, and future installments for her upcoming show in April in Highland Park. This exhibition will highlight over 25 works.
When asked to describe her process, Nix explained the importance of craft and time spent with each work layering paint and hot wax. Sometimes beginning with a figurative image Nix then turns the canvas upside down. From there, she proceeds to block out shapes of colors that align with the original image. She will, as she explains, often overwork a canvas, which then gives her the opportunity to begin the process of working backward, “under working,” as she calls it. The end results are often emotionally charged, deeply rich and narrative abstractions.
Nix is artistic and thoughtful in everything she does. To counter the painting, Nix designs and hand makes artisanal lighting fixtures for clients all over the world. Currently, Nix is in the process of constructing these lamps for special order with the Chateau Denmark in London. Some of her works are available at Blackman Cruz, a specialty interior design store on Highland Park. Make sure to check out her brass works when you are attending the opening of the solo exhibition in April. If you haven’t already, make sure to follow Leslie’s instagram, @leslienixpaintings.
Leslie Nix at White Balancing.