Lesley Riley, Creativity Catalyst, tells Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque "Art is Magic."

Creativity Catalyst Muses on the Magic of Art

Lesley Riley, the Creativity Catalyst is passionate about the magic of art. Author (with eight books to her credit), coach and artist, she devotes herself to helping women become the artists they were meant to be. Her enthusiasm to share the truths she’s learned takes her around the world to deliver workshops, speeches and retreats. As one of her newsletter subscribers, I follow Lesley’s comments regularly. She offers resources and commentary that resonate. I was delighted when she agreed to talk with me about creativity.

ME: What does creativity mean to you?

Creativity is taking action on the timeless impulse to spin straw into gold. Your straw can be raw materials, words, ideas or dreams. 

ME: How did your art evolve and how have you evolved as a result? (Tell me about the role of art in your childhood)

I was always making things as a child and well into my teen years. I was drawn to crafts because I felt I couldn’t draw realistically, like a “real” artist should be able to do. I have since learned how to draw, anyone can learn. Crafts also gave me a way to answer the question my Dad asked every time I show him my creations – “What’s it for?” I was too intimidated to even think of going to art school in 1970, and besides, I didn’t particularly like the style they all favored back then. It took me 40some years to find my own way into being an artist, and now I help other women to overcome interrupted childhood dreams of art, find their way in and become the artists they were meant to be.

ME: How do you feel when you’re in your creative space and what does that feeling contribute to your end result? 

When I am in my creative space I am truly complete. I am me, doing spirit driven work. There will never be enough time to explore everything I want to accomplish, but I know a deep dive into a few is more rewarding than skimming many. I tend to work on one big project with smaller, easier ones during mental breaks or when I need to have thinking vs doing time on the big project. I could spend 24/7 in my studio. I never want to leave. Fortunately the body requires sleep and my ever-growing family pulls my attention away from the studio.

This collage by Lesley Riley entitled "Exploring New Territory" illustrates her feelings about the magic of art.
© 2017, Lesley Riley, “Exploring New Territory”

Magic of Art Evolves to New Territory

ME: Do you see an impact of fellow artists on you and your work?

I follow just a few artists – otherwise you get inspiration overload! The ones I follow work in mediums or create work that I want to explore. I learn by observation their work and then trying to accomplish certain techniques and details. I don’t want to know how they do it, I want to discover how I will do it. I’m in a growth phase and moving into unknown territory. It’s easy to do the familiar, and I do turn to that for fun and pleasure, but it’s in the stretching and learning that I really feel alive.

ME: As an artist, are there doubts and struggles you face?

My struggles are between wanting to just create artwork for myself vs feeling compelled to share my greater vision and life’s work with others so that they can experience the joys inherent in their own creative act. I have yet to find a workable rhythm between the two so that my personal desires are quenched. I seem to be an all or nothing worker, unable to switch between the two.

This abstract illustrates Lesley Riley's magic of art as discussed with Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.
© 2017, Lesley Riley, Ireland 2

ME: How has your art changed your perception of the world and how the world sees you?

I think that artists, by nature, notice things. Decades ago, when I was trying to figure out how to actually be an artist, I read that you have to learn to see like an artist. I thought that meant they have some magic vision. And then one day,, when I was making note of all the art elements and principles that we come across all day/everyday, I realized that I had finally learned to see like an artist. So, when I come across something full of wonder and beauty, I ask myself, why is it so. That is how art has changed my perception of the world.

As for it changing how the world sees me, one never truly knows, but I set myself and my actions as an example and hope that I can awaken and inspire others to the magic of art.

ME: What impact do you want to have with your art and on whom?

Specifically, I work towards inspiring and helping women, who by their nature, put others first and delay their own desires, to take their dreams of art into their own hands and overcome the obstacles that may be preventing them from doing so. 

Learn more about Lesley and the magic of art

Thanks Lesley! (The italics are mine!)

Lesley will be in Phoenix, AZ to participate in the 15th Art Unraveled Mixed Media Retreat. Catch her workshop there or check out her newest program, Closing the Creativity Gap.

2 thoughts on “Creativity Catalyst Muses on the Magic of Art”

  1. Thank you for introducing me to Lesley Riley, Mary Ellen. Delightful interview. I smiled when in Lesley’s reference to “inspiration overload”. I started sketching a house yesterday, but was intimidated by my 11-year-old granddaughter’s incredible artistic eye. Thus, I sketched a book cover and heard “nice” when Rabekkah glanced over. I admire Lesley trying to balance her art with reaching out to others as you are so good at.

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