Watercolor Wonders

by Matt DiBattista

Meet watercolor instructor Leslie Barnum

Leslie Barnum is an artist and educator residing in the Pacific Northwest. Graduating from Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) in Portland, OR, Leslie’s journey into the world of artistry has been a passionate pursuit of capturing the beauty of the ordinary.

“During my art education, I focused on oil painting.  I’ve worked as a textile designer and have done mixed media, gouache and acrylic paintings,” Leslie unveils. Despite this diverse background, watercolor has emerged as her true artistic companion. “I’ve been painting with Watercolor since I was a teen. Watercolor is a medium which is usually not taught in most fine art programs,” she explains.Leslie Barnum

Acknowledging its nuanced challenges, Leslie embarked on a personal odyssey of skill refinement, seeking mentorship from seasoned artists. “In the past 15 years, I sought out my own teachers to get more fluent in painting with watercolor.  Many artists would agree that watercolor is the most difficult medium to learn.”

For Leslie, art is more than just a visual expression; it’s a gateway to being present in the moment, allowing us to uncover the hidden splendor in the mundane. With a belief deeply rooted in the transformative power of art, Leslie seamlessly intertwines her roles as both an artist and a mentor.

Creative journeys and self-discovery

With a remarkable teaching tenure spanning over 14 years, Leslie has honed her craft in guiding aspiring artists on their creative journeys. She fosters an environment where students not only learn the technical aspects of painting but also cultivate a profound trust in their instincts. Witnessing her students’ newfound perspectives fills Leslie with joy, knowing that they embark on a journey of self-discovery through art.

At the Southeast Campus of PCC, Leslie imparts her wisdom through four distinctive classes – Watercolor for Beginners, Watercolor: Beyond the Basics, Ink Drawing with Watercolor Washes, and Paint with Bold Color in Gouache.

“Watercolor for Beginners (especially) is a very popular class. The class usually fills up immediately so if students want a spot, register as soon as it opens,” Leslie shares. Here, students delve into the fundamentals of watercolor, laying the groundwork for a journey of exploration. “I go over the basics of watercolor in the class but this medium really takes a lot of practice.” As the seasons change, so does the thematic focus of the class, offering students a comprehensive learning experience.

In Leslie Barnum’s world, art is not merely a destination but a perpetual adventure. Through her guidance, students not only learn the technical nuances of painting but also embark on a profound journey of self-discovery, discovering the boundless beauty that surrounds them.