GUEST ARTIST: “Creativity is Contagious: Having Fun With Watercolors as an Artistic Outlet” by Leslie Tieu

Born to be wild Leslie Tieu watercolor cropped

My name is Leslie Tieu and I’m from Los Angeles, California. I started documenting my artistic journey on Instagram in 2015. I needed a creative outlet from my daily work as a pharmacist. I had always studied the sciences and now was working daily without a means to express all the creativity that was bubbling over inside. That’s when I discovered the world of lettering and watercoloring and instantly fell in love.

I had never had any formal artistic training so teaching myself became a labor of love. I became obsessed over learning new techniques, playing with and understanding color, and exploring the possibilities with watercolor. I was so infatuated that I poured myself into lettering and watercoloring almost every single day for a few years.

I find inspiration in so many things. I love geometric shapes and find so much inspiration from architecture, especially Art Deco buildings. I tend to paint in series if I can’t get a style out of my head. You’ll notice a lot of rainbow color palettes, hexagon shapes, and floral motifs in many of my pieces. I love a vibrant and happy palette and I often find the prettiest colors come from nature.

I am completely at peace in a garden, marveling at the colors nature has put together. I love combining different media as well. I’ve already explained my love of lettering and watercoloring but I started delving into line drawing and experimenting with different ways to incorporate different styles together.

I usually paint when I’m inspired. I may have a color scheme or a geometric pattern that I can’t get out of my head and that’s when my favorite paintings emerge. Sometimes my best ideas come right before bed so I keep a journal close by for rough sketches. I usually sketch with pencil on some printer paper before committing to a final piece. I use this time to determine the composition of the piece.

I don’t like when things are too symmetrical and find the prettiest pieces are slightly perfectly imperfect. Next I use some scrap watercolor paper to play with colors that I will choose for the piece. My favorite papers are cold press watercolor papers from Arches, Canson Heritage, and Strathmore. I love Daler-Rowney paints and my go-to watercolor brushes are Princeton Heritage brushes.

Painting is my happy place. I used to document my entire process on social media but I’ve found a quiet joy in painting for myself lately. I still love sharing my process videos and encouraging others to find art as a way of expressing oneself. I love passing on the creative baton and try to live by the words “creativity is contagious”. My hope is that I can continue to spark the joy of creating in others.

Leslie Tieu
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6 Comments
  1. Sandra Strait 3 months ago

    I love how vibrant and joyful your paintings are! Thank you for sharing your artistic journey with us, Leslie.

  2. Mary Roff 3 months ago

    Beautiful and joyful art, Leslie. Thank you for sharing your story and your art!!

  3. Laura Kate 3 months ago

    Leslie, thanks for sharing.

  4. writerleenda 3 months ago

    Leslie you do such beautiful work and you are right, the prettiest colours do come from nature. Yes ideas come at bedtime — this writer is known to get up and jot those down. What a wonderful thing, left brain medicine and right brain creativity. We could change the world if we could get everyone to use both sides!!

  5. Marisela Delgado 3 months ago

    Leslie, what gorgeous work! I’m a rubber stamper, who makes cards, and your work is right up my alley. So beautiful! I don’t do well with Copic markers so I use color pencils or watercoloring to color my images. Your work is just gorgeous! So inspiring to me.
    Warm hugs from San Antonio, Texas. 💜💜💜

    • Marisela Delgado 3 months ago

      I just subscribed to your blog. So excited!

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