Born to be wild Leslie Tieu watercolor cropped

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

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

  1. 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!!

  2. 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. 💜💜💜

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