Inside the Artist’s Studio with Leslie Schomp

Schomp,Self-Portrait with Snake and Mouse

Schomp, “Self with Snake and Mouse”, 2015

As an artist I am interested in many subjects. Although it can sometimes be difficult in the studio to choose what I wish to work with or which direction to settle on, my work is at its best when I can layer these varied interests.  The piece included in this exhibit, Self-Portrait with Snake and Mouse is a cloth stitched sculpture and is inspired by many historical objects I was researching at the time.

William Bartram

William Bartram, Drawing, Natural History Museum Archives

In early 2015 I travelled to London to see the work of Maria Sibylla Merian, William Bartram and Mary Delany. Their 18th century works are drawings, paintings and collages that record their close observations of flowers, animals and insect interactions.  Their appeal for me was the balance between the violence of some of their subjects’ interactions and the exquisite use of composition and materials.  The work links science and art beautifully.

Maria Sybilla Merian,  From British Museum

Maria Sibylla Merian, From British Museum

This sculpture is part of a larger series that are self-portraits investigating animal behavior to gain self-awareness. The work often questions whether we project human traits onto animals or whether we are simply just alike. I investigate primary experiences shared by all, such as hunger, self-protection, fear, aging and love. I pursue how animal skins (chicken, elephant, horse, fox, snake, etc.) can translate into drawn line or sewn edges.

Snake,  Natural History Museum in London

Snake, Natural History Museum in London

I was able to view taxidermy at the Natural History Museum and historical and contemporary works in textiles at the Victoria Albert Museum, which also greatly impacted the ideas for this sculpture.

What I cannot see in museums, I research in books. Below is a photo of an anonymous Egyptian funerary portrait sculpture from the book Portraiture by Shearer West.  This was one of the largest influences on this work.

Anonymous, Portrait of a Woman, AD 190-220,

Anonymous, Portrait of a Woman, AD 190-220,

Schomp, Process

Schomp, Process: early parts of “Self with Snake and Mouse”

I am often asked why I use cloth instead of clay or wood.  As an artist I believe you find a material you want to grapple with.  It’s not something that is necessarily easy or available but something that perhaps you have a history with or an instinctual desire to pick up and wrestle with.  I have worked with cloth my whole life since I was a  child in a convent school in Ireland where we knitted, embroidered and quilted. I made my own dolls and clothing.  I find myself buying vintage textiles and clothing in antique stores.  I’m drawn to it’s ability to be flat or structural. Its connection to the body as something practical, ornamental, or sensual is of immense interest. Textiles are part of my own history.

Schomp, Process Shot of "Double Self-Portrait with Elephant Skin"

Schomp, Process Shot of “Double Self-Portrait with Elephant Skin”

My process is layering bundles of cloth together slowly until I reach the final form. The bundles get smaller as I arrive at the surface. The stitching on the surface is like drawing and are maps of how planes form. At times I use wire or wood for a support. Cloth acts like the body. The bundles are like organs and it can be stretched like skin. Its outer layers reveal the inner ones. It puckers, gathers, stretches and hangs. I use all kinds of cloth for it’s texture, color, weave, translucency, history, or meaning. These attributes often inspire my content or how I approach my subject matter. My work often hovers between the 2d and 3d worlds. My drawings are often objects and my sculptures often contain drawings on surface.

Schomp, Self-Portrait With Elephant Skin

Schomp, Self-Portrait With Elephant Skin, ink on paper

I also create drawings in ink to play with ideas and textures before I settle into a sculpture that may take 6 months to make such as Self-Portrait with Snake and Mouse.

I live in the country in Massachusetts. The landscape is a daily powerful visual in my life. As a gardener I am always struck by the heartache, fear, desire, violence and  beauty of the natural world.  These works are an investigation into how I see myself as part of and apart from nature.

Stop by Main Street Arts to see Leslie’s sculpture “Self-Portrait with Snake and Mouse” in our current exhibition The Human Figure (runs through July 1). View her work online at

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by painter Robert Samartino.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Robert Samartino

I paint as much as I can and embrace a variety of figurative content in my work. What remains constant to my creative process is best described by the habits and rituals I use to eliminate distraction. I paint where I live and I allow the practicalities of my life to influence the direction of my work. I keep my workspace lights on and my materials are always set up to be used.

photographed in workspace

26″ x 32″
oil and wax on linen

I take and collect pictures constantly; of anything that captures my attention–this allows me to include my time away from painting into my work. I review these images routinely and allow my intuition to select and/or combine them. This improvisational state is enhanced by working on multiple paintings at once–changing the channel in my mind to remain in a trance. My sculptural work is literally made in the space and time between my palette and whatever canvas I am working on. Accretions and Inclusions grew as accumulations of paint and wax wiped off from my palette knife.  I am motivated with a fetishization of accumulation; by applying and removing layers with an unclear motive my art is grown to reflect the path indecision inevitably takes.

6" x 5.5" x 6"  oil, wax, discarded materials on ethafoam 2015

6″ x 5.5″ x 6″
oil, wax, discarded materials on ethafoam

5" x 5" x 5.5" oil, wax, discarded materials on ethafoam 2015

5″ x 5″ x 5.5″
oil, wax, discarded materials on ethafoam

Manual labor, in particular roadwork, fascinates me in its similarity to my own layering process. I began depicting men at work with the first of a three part series titled Concrete Labor. Its source derives from a scene I photographed on 23rd St. in Manhattan, the workers were positioned in front of a darkened storefront which is omitted in the translated painting. The attention becomes concentrated – their labor objectifies into our infrastructure as its utility becomes universal in the function of a roadway.

26" x 32"  oil and wax on canvas 2013

26″ x 32″
oil and wax on canvas

26" x 32"  oil and wax on linen 2015

26″ x 32″
oil and wax on linen

Stop by Main Street Arts to see two of Robert’s paintings in our current exhibition The Human Figure (runs through July 1). View his work online at

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by ceramic artist John Brien.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Marisa Bruno

Marisa Bruno is our first artist in residence at Main Street Arts! She’ll be working in one of our two studio spaces from May through June 2016 (you can stop by the gallery to see Marisa’s studio and work in progress). We asked Marisa a few questions about her artwork, life, and more:


Q: To start this off, would you tell us about your background? 

A: I live in Rochester, NY and began making artwork seriously towards the end of high school. I attended SUNY Fredonia, studied art intensely there for four years and graduated with my BFA in Drawing and Painting in 2015. Now that I am back home, I work at part time at Donna Marie’s Gluten Free Bakery. Surprisingly, working at a bakery provides many creative outlets like cake decorating and allows me to meet new and interesting people every day. I paint personal and commissioned work for galleries and individual patrons.

Q: How would you describe your work? 

A: Currently I work in oil paint on surfaces like Masonite or wood paneling. I focus primarily on the human form; expressions, body language, the way light interacts with the face, the way gestures can relate moods and ideas all catch my attention. I use expressive brushwork and intense colors in my work.

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?

A: It always begins with sketching. So much sketching in combination with journalling and  taking more photos than I could ever use. Then I sort through the images and words to form the painting. My mental image of what the painting will look like often changes drastically during this step. Once I’ve selected a photo reference to work from (or two or three), I prepare a wood panel with gesso or liquin, sketch the image (with much revision) and then begin painting. I like to walk away from my works in progress and come back later for another painting session. It helps me to see areas needing improvement.

Q: What are your goals for this residency? Tell us about your current projects.

A: I’d say I have three main goals: Paint as much as possible, meet as many people as possible and learn new skills from my environment and the people around me!

I am currently working on a series called Wrapping Paper, focusing on the acceptance and beauty of physical imperfections despite the pressures of society. The first painting in this series can be viewed on my website here .

In addition, I am planning an exhibition for the second floor of Main Street Arts. This show is in its early stages but updates will be coming soon! I’m also putting together a Figure Drawing workshop to take place in June. Look for more updates in the next week!

Q: What’s next for you?

A: I am planning on continuing to show work in galleries, work at the bakery and hopefully enroll in grad school in the coming year. I am also working for the Arts at the Gardens fine art show. You can find out more about it here.

Q: Where can we find you?

A: My work can be viewed on my website, Facebook and Instagram! I also had the great honor of being included in the first edition of Art House Press Magazine.

Are you an artist looking for new opportunities? Apply for a residency at Main Street Arts! Artists in residence will have 24-hour access to a large studio on our second floor (with great natural light), the option to show work in the gallery, and the opportunity to teach paid workshops. Submissions are reviewed and awarded on an ongoing basis.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with John Brien

John Brien (1)

Applying slips before the first firing

I am originally from Rochester, NY and grew up in Dayton, OH. I moved back to the Rochester area after high school and currently live in Victor, NY. I studied art and art education at Monroe Community College and Nazareth College, and I currently teach art at Fairport High School.


“Fleeting” early rough in of the sculpture

I was not able to concentrate on clay in college as much as I wanted to, so a lot of what I do has been learned in the studio, through practice, or from the wonderful, sharing clay community on the internet. I am an avid reader of ceramic blogs, books , and magazines and I have watched hundreds of hours of demos on YouTube. So, even though my ceramics education was not traditional, I did learn from the best.


First layer of colored slips applied

As an educator, I believe it is important to teach by example. Early in my teaching career I read an article about ceramic artist and educator Paul Soldner. He talked about the importance of teacher as maker in the classroom. I believe it is important for my students to see me work. The pieces that I work on in the classroom are used for demonstrations and discussions on technique and craftsmanship. I find that it raises the level of understanding about what it is to make art and be creative.


work in progress faceted yunomi

Mishima skull yunomi

Mishima skull yunomi

I have two very different bodies of work. I make figurative sculptures, and I also make functional ceramic work with my wife as J&K Clayworks. Because I chose to (and love to) make functional pieces I only have time to make 2 to 3 sculptures a year.

Fleeting 2015

Fleeting 2015

The figurative work I do is often related to personal reflections and can be an interpretation of my experiences and people in my life. I start each sculpture with a general direction and I enjoy finding the face and form in the clay. I let my ideas evolve as the work develops though a process of trial and error. There is always a lot of experimentation in what I do: If something works, it works. If it doesn’t work, then I find another way.

Flora 2016

Flora 2016

I have always been drawn to figurative works where the subject connects with the viewer through a gesture or through eye contact. Art is an interaction between the maker and the viewer. Most of us have seen work that “speaks” to us. It gives us pause and allows us to reflect on what the artist is saying or to connect with a narrative in the work. This is my goal. This is what keeps me making. Whether it is a sculpture or a cup, the interaction with the audience allows my art to achieve its purpose.

Stop by Main Street Arts to see John’s ceramic sculpture “Fleeting” in our current exhibition The Human Figure (runs through July 1). View his work on Facebook at You can also follow John on Instagram @jbrien145.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by painter Paul Garland.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Paul Garland: TRIO – Three Related Painting Series


Modernist traditions of the 20th century have informed my art for many years and continue to do so. From large format watercolors on paper exhibited early in my career at the Everson Museum in 1981:

Everson Museum, 1981

Everson Museum, 1981

Everson Museum Triptych, 1981

Everson Museum Triptych, 1981

to smaller works recently presented at Axom Gallery in Rochester:

Axom Gallery, Rochester, NY

Axom Gallery, Rochester, NY

Paintings by Paul Garland at Axom Gallery, Rochester, NY

Paintings by Paul Garland at Axom Gallery, Rochester, NY

The rich core of modernist abstraction runs through my painting.


I am fortunate to live and work in an beautiful geographical area. Fair Haven State Park is located only a few hundred yards from my home and studio in Fair Haven, N.Y.

When I retired from my teaching position at SUNY Oswego after thirty two years as a professor of art I had the opportunity to more fully appreciate the beauty of the park and began a routine of daily walks by the shore of Lake Ontario prior to starting work in the studio.

The more I walked the more fully I appreciated the beauty of the great lake, adjacent bay and pond, creek, hills, fields, animal life, woods. The ever changing  light and color effecting everything every day.

Soon I felt a strong desire to bring nature into my art practice. This ultimately lead to a series of landscape paintngs which are based on my direct observation of nature.


The two works I am showing in FIFTY LANDSCAPES – This Is and This Remains – are part of a extended decade long series titled CONVERGENCE. The paintings from this series combine and juxtapose modernist abstraction with  specific landscape imagery I have experienced in the natural world.




For the past year my painting have primarily been focused on non-objective abstraction.

However my interest in nature and landscape painting continues.


The  third series, CONVERGENCE, has been mostly in the planning stage rather than active painting in recent months. I anticipate a return in the near future to the series that combines non-objective abstraction and landscape painting.


This  TRIO of three distinct painting series; Non-Objective Abstraction, Landscape Painting and Convergence reflect my strong personal interests and essential aesthetic and conceptual concerns. They constitute a rich, varied, and fulfilling studio practice.

Stop by Main Street Arts to see Paul’s artwork in our current exhibition, Fifty Landscapes (runs through May 13). View his work online at Paul will also be having a solo exhibition at Axom Gallery during the fall of 2016.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by artist Lana Grauer.

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Lana Grauer

My studio is the great outdoors.  Standing alone in a forest or meadow in the warm morning sun behind my easel is my favorite way to start a day and a new painting. I have a number of favorite places near my home in Mamaroneck, NY including Otter Creek and The Marshlands Conservancy.  However the best scenery and inspiration for me is found in the Finger Lakes. I am a pastel landscape painter.  Here I am painting near a vineyard on Keuka Lake with my dog, Annie. Tip #1  Don’t ever tie your dog to your easel while you are painting.

Plein air painting with my dog, Annie

Plein air painting with my dog, Annie

My paintings are about 80% complete when I leave my painting location and head home.  The remaining 20% is called the resolution phase which involves critiquing the composition and tweaking color values. This typically involves me sitting in a chair in my studio and staring at the painting for about 10 minutes until the weak areas become apparent to me.  Most of the time I can improve a painting by adding more drama by exaggerating the value differences. If I am troubled by a larger area I will use a stiff brush and brush off the area outside.  Most of the pastel will come off the paper and I can proceed on a different path with that part of the painting.  Lastly I refer to my Check Off List.

Lana Grauer, "White Cliffs", pastel on paper, 17" x 14", 2015.

Lana Grauer, “White Cliffs”, pastel on paper, 17″ x 14″, 2015.

Lana’s Check Off List

  1. Are the colors in the foreground of greater intensity than the background?
  2. Is the back ground neutral enough?
  3. Are the edges sharp in the foreground and blurred in the background?
  4. What is my point of interest?
  5. Is the eye drawn back into the painting?
  6. Are there sufficient differences in value?

Here are some photos of my studio.  Notice the flat drawers for storing paper and work in progress. The vertical slots are great for storing framed pieces. I converted a closet into shelf space for storing frames, shipping boxes and my plein air backpack.

Grauer Studio

Grauer Studio

Studio #2

Stop by Main Street Arts to see Lana’s artwork in our current exhibition, Fifty Landscapes (runs through May 13). View her work online at Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by painter Lanna Pejovic.