2019 IWAF Featured Artist
Leslee Adams
“Flor de Vida”  by Leslee Adams

“Flor de Vida”

Original 24”w x 36”h watercolor painting on 300lb French watercolor paper.
(36” x 48” matted and framed)

This is a 6-color hexichrome print with outstanding reproduction.
Print size 18” x 24” fits standard frame size.

Artist Leslee Adams

Leslee Adams

Celebrating the 17th annual event is Featured Artist Leslee Adams’ vibrant ode to beauty and life, “Flor de Vida,” an original watercolor painting commissioned to serve as the festival’s commemorative print. Inspired by colorful blooms and the unexpected sustainability found in the desert’s rugged terrain, the Coachella Valley-native paints a narrative of admiration and respect for the harmonious balance of life in the Sonoran Desert. "Flor de Vida" translates from Spanish to English as "Flower of Life" and is the name given to reflect the painting's nod to the history of desert valley inhabitants.

Known as The Watercolor Chef, Leslee is lauded for her bold watercolors of food, stunning landscapes, and beautiful florals. As a Parisian-trained Ritz Escoffier pastry chef, Leslee mingles her love of texture and color from the plate to the easel, perhaps best demonstrated through her incorporation into “Flor de Vida” of edible plants native to the desert. Dainty pink flowers blossom atop a cluster of Prickly Pear cacti, which she also uses in her culinary enterprises for her famed Prickly Pear Sorbet and traditional Nopales. Centered is the flowering Agave, widely known for being the source of Tequila and its nectar used as a natural sweetener. Surrounded by whimsical stalks of Ocotillo, savory Purple Sage ground cover and succulents, tiny but essential bees buzz throughout collecting the pollen responsible for the renowned desert superblooms and everyday life that finds its way to spring up.

Describing her vision for the painting from conception to fruition, Leslee says, "I really wanted a red background, it's such a happy, passionate color. Then I wanted to add in something that I have never added before, the bees... to acknowledge the history of our bees and why they are so important to the Coachella Valley, and to life itself.

I hope "Flor de Vida" entices people to see more color and texture in our desert. There's so much more to see than palm trees and cacti if we just slow down and take a look around us," says Leslee who hopes the painting will spur conversations not only about the desert’s beauty but, also the wondrous ways in which life thrives in a relentless geography.

To create the dramatic effects of color and depth in her paintings, Leslee applies rich watercolor paints robust with brilliant, luminous Quinacridone pigments and PrimaTek pigments made from minerals and semi-precious minerals including Amethyst, Piemontite and Serpentine. Garnering maximum paint coverage and saturation, Leslee’s preferred instruments for her art are Black Velvet brushes for their ability to hold lots of paint, and their sheer durability; in fact, Leslee has used the same brushes without need for replacements for over a decade. Finally, to sustain the prismatic textures of her composition, Leslee finds that a fine 300lb weight fine watercolor paper holds up to the test of time best.

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