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Lesley Main's most successful paintings are vibrant with colour, open-hearted in mood, spontaneous not precise, fluid rather than static, and her work overflows with warm generosity.
She has a tremendous commitment to observation coupled with a love of nature.

Main says she is happiest out in the landscape; walking through trees or along a shore. An early admiration for the Scottish Colourists (Fergusson in particular), led her to pursue colour as the basis for all her work. She handles light and shade with a fresh optimistic touch, painting fast, spurred on by a determination to develop and expand her vocabulary.

"Methodically placing one colour next to another doesn't get you anywhere. When I observe, be it a flower or a tree, the answer is out there. I then have to resolve how to capture its essence."

She responds emotionally, by gut reaction, knowing instinctively which shade of pastel or chalk to seize.

She says she could work from one domestic still-life for evermore and still find different things within it. "It's phenomenal the difference a minimal amount of change in light or colour makes."
She hesitates to impose a fixed identity on an image, preferring to be responsive. "Different subjects demand a certain way of handling. You can't paint a rose the same way as a sweet pea. That's light, transparent, floaty. I'd use watercolours, not oil. A rosebud is heavy, plump, firm, and can take oil and a firmer stroke."

Main values the freedom to experiment and a recent trips produced mass of lovely pink atmospheric landscapes bathed in soft, pinky, a diffused light, the volcanic earth and slender palms easy on the eye. But their casual freedom and joie de vivre is deceptive. These pictures are no easy victory. They result from punishing hard work, an academic training and a tireless search to grasp that elusive vision.

Clare Henry
Art Critic "New York Financial Times", "The Herald", Arts Review"


Lesley Main a young painter and inveterate traveller who has inherited some of the swashbuckling, painterly procedures widely pursued in the West by artists like Robertson and Shanks, she is able to express atmosphere immediately through gesture and colour while, at the same time, reducing these elements to a transcription of only essential matters.

If not always entirely resolved her imagery is fresh and stimulating, her performance inspires confidence by its dashing certainty and excitement.

In larger works she uses a mixture of gouache and acrylic pigment and in small sketches and pochades she resorts to watercolour traditions in which she adopts a Dufy-esque approach or is content to make a more prosaic statement about the topography in front of her. I much admire the bold leafy pattern of ‘The Greyia Tree.’

Edward Gage
Art Critic "The Scotsman"


Main's delectable renderings of flowers fill the viewer's mind with light and perfume, though they are always an evocation of the nature of blossom rather than mere representation. Hazel's Flowers is a miracle of glowing colour within living leafiness, and the use of oil pastels to lay wiry, matt-surfaced
lines over vigourously-applied paint gives the picture an astonishing vibrancy. Still Life in the Studio refrains from any specific detail, and yet the sense of light pouring through a window behind massed blossom is almost overwhelmingly real.

Particularly interesting is a set of visual responses painted while listening intently to the music of Mozart. In these abstract compositions, Main has found extraordinary ways to evoke the magical structures of this classical music. Piano Sonata No. 5 in G Minor, for instance, gives rise to flying shapes of pale tangerine in a wind-blown lightness achieved by combing through one layer of paint to reveal breezy flicks of another. Clarinet Concerto in A - Rondo is darker-toned, the painting smoother, as befits the close articulation of clarinet playing.

The effect of these musical paintings, coupled with some evocative Scottish landscapes, is joyful and strangely energising. If you happen to be passing on a day that seems a bit flat, pop in and take a few minutes to "stand and stare", as the poet said. You'll come out feeling better.

Alison Prince
Art Critic and Biographer


Lesley Main's paintings are a reflection of her own character. Colourful, vibrant and full of awareness of the world that surrounds her, her paintings mirror a generous and giving spirit.
Unlike the paintings of some of her contemporaries of the Glasgow School, which are loud and strident in the demands they make of the viewer and often presuppose a careworn world, perennially filled with sadness and socio-political angst, Lesley Main chooses to paint an altogether more gentle scene. Her paintings are like the closing door on a noisy street and give the viewer a chance to steal a few moments of tranquillity. You could say that she represents the school of quiet therapy rather than the currently popular school of artistic psychiatry. Both have their place in the scheme of things, but her following has resulted from artistic honesty, rather than critical hyperbole.

Jonathon Brown
Art Critic "The Scotsman"


Lesley Main is a regular contributor to the big annual shows in Scotland, London and abroad and an ardent painter-traveller, and this collection is by far her most impressive to date.

It reveals, once and for all, that Main is a natural painter who succeeds remarkably in communicating, not only enthusiasm for her material, but an unerring command of subject matter which is here restricted on the whole to large and small enchanting glimpses of a monastery courtyard in Patmos, flowers in Athens, the Island of Kos, an notably Irises.

America is recalled by evocative studies like Hemingway's Balcony, Key West (two lonely wicker chairs on a verandah) and Sloppy Joe's at the same Key West. Scotland has not been neglected, the finest work in this whole exhibition being her landscape Scarista Beach, Isle of Harris which is a highly personal response carrying the momentum of its own rhythm.

With Main - as with all good artists - it is not so much the subject that matters as the hand behind the brush or knife, and with her it is possible almost to live with the hand as it is wielding the implement.

Emilio Coia
Art Critic "The Scotsman"




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