Take Your ART to the Next Level with Me
Creativity is a superpower, your superpower.
I'm Leslie Montana, Professional Artist, Teacher, and Reiki Master. I am a liaison to the creative nature that lives inside all of us, and I help people just like you reconnect and claim more creative potential through the process of making art. My approach is unique in that meditation, and states of consciousness are at the foundation of my work, and this is something I share in my learning programs.
When you work with me you'll have an opportunity to align your work to the core of who and what you are for next-level artistry.
Core beliefs that led to my approach to teaching
When our freedom to create is encroached upon, we know it. It hurts. And the pain is registered in our bodies, especially when we're small. Early school days are often at fault, yet the damage is never intentional.
Our creative nature is in full swing when we're tiny. There's nothing stopping us. If we make a mark on paper, we may be applauded for just being able to hold a crayon. Delight surges through us. We're happy.
The impulse to create, when unobstructed, is pure. It's as natural as breathing. And we all knows what happens to that. It becomes shallow as we become disconnected from our bodies. Our creative nature is similar, and it must be nurtured and protected to become a fully integrated part of our adult selves. It is vital for our life source connection. Thankfully, in more conscious circles of education this trend is on.
As we experience the quickening energies of our time and the challenges that come with it, we're faced with options to grow or stagnate. Making art can be a tremendous ally as we find new ways to ground our reality in positive ways. Its benefits can come right through the doorway of our creativity. Coupled with meditation, we expand into more of who and what we truly are, and the gears of life mesh and move more easily.
To marginalize creativity is to disrespect a primal force in us that keeps us healthy and alive.
A little backstory (how I got here)
I didn't set out to teach. Originally, I avoided it because I didn't like how I was taught in school, especially at higher levels of art education. Eager to learn everything I could, I was surprised when I encountered resistance. But since I was self-motivated, optimistic, and hopeful, I progressed on track toward higher learning. Gaining acceptance to several excellent schools, I left high school a year early to attend college where I earned a BFA.
Fast forward to college graduation. It was like making it to the end of a grueling finish line only to find I'd embarked on the wrong trajectory. It was over, thank goodness, yet I was in deep despair. What happened? What had I invested so much of my time and energy in? I could barely find the original shiny creative being I'd previously been. My confidence was gone, and I felt utterly lost.
I wasn't aware of it then, but I'd begun to form the basis for my mature work in those difficult days. The paintings you see on this website are part of that. The model for the way I work with people also began its formation at that time. Though understandably, I had no desire to enter the professional world of teaching as I knew it.
I had one choice only. I had to dig out on my own, un-learn everything I'd been taught, and start over. The hardest part of that journey took about twenty years, leading to the body of work I call exquisite paintings on the nature of flowers, which is now in phase two.
Things have changed, and nowadays there is a distinct call for the kind of work I do. Those who participate in my programs get fast-tracked out of potential stuck-ness and into more aligned, natural and efficient ways of creating. Some say it's healing, and if it is, you're the one doing it through your own creative work. The inner genius in you wants to come out and play. This is the basis for my artists masterclass series.
••• Artist Masterclass, Watercolor Painting and Technique, Cultivating Sustainable Practices •••
From concept to sketch, drawing, under-drawing, and the proper use and understanding of materials, a lot of consideration goes into this process. To achieve physical mastery, acquiring technical skills is a must. Good guidance, re-attuning the mind, and letting go of outdated concepts also helps us to excel with greater efficacy and confidence. Sustainable practices that last a lifetime are the foundation, as you learn techniques, and some of my best kept secrets. Learn more...
Who I work with (does this sound like you?)
You love art. I hear you saying, Yes! You've always gravitated toward it, and continued with it as you could, but you had to put it aside in favor of other things. Until, maybe, now. Your plan was to take care of everyone, and everything else first, and then at a certain point, you'd get back to it. You would finally pursue your love for art when... When?
Well, you're here now. You're excited about the possibilities, and no one and nothing is going to stop you, except maybe those voices in your head. They're still chattering away but you know it's time to move beyond them. You're so much stronger now. Life experience is valuable and has its place.
The colors make you happy to look at. But you can't share that with just anyone. Only another artist would understand. The paint tubes and pans, maybe some pastels, pencils, your brushes, papers, canvas, etc... This is your treasured collection of art supplies, your materials. There's something sacred about it all, and you treat it with a love, reverence, and respect.
Seeing the work of artists you admire is exciting. It lights you up. And no matter how much you struggle, you still come back to making stuff, painting, drawing and what you love to do. It's a sacred place for you. It nourishes you like nothing else does. But something is still missing...
There's a gap somewhere. You realize you need to learn more, brush up on your skills. And now that so much time has passed, your reservoir of momentum has diminished. You're wondering how to rebuild your passion, catch up, and position yourself to get your needs met in a realistic way. It seems overwhelming, and a bit of a mystery.
Consider joining my next Masterclass.
When I first discovered Leslie’s work online, it took my breath away - she captures the very soul and life essence of every flower she paints. I knew immediately that I needed to connect with Leslie and study with her! I wanted to watch her paint and learn her technique, so I too could capture flowers so beautifully – what were her special techniques, paints, brushes, materials, etc. that made her so successful?
I signed up for one-on-one mentoring with Leslie, excited and open to whatever she had in mind. Little did I know the amazing, transformative journey Leslie would lead me on! She guided me to see that capturing the life-force of a flower is not a technique, it is a way of seeing, a way of being with the flower and connecting with its life-force. It is a conversation and a watercolor dance across the page. I learned how to breathe and calm my mind and connect with what I am seeing. I discovered, through our time together, how to allow myself to paint as a connection with nature, rather than as a ‘producer’ of excellent art. And in this letting go, I started to see layers and layers of detail and value and color that I had never seen before. And yes, I learned some great new techniques as well.
Now, as I sit down with a painting, I take a moment to breathe, and I hear Leslie’s words and feel her energy calming me, and it brings me right back to our sessions together, no matter what I choose to paint. I can never go back, now that I have had this time with Leslie. It is truly a gift to my body and spirit, and I cannot wait to see where it takes me!
With the deepest of appreciation,
Debbie, Santa Rosa, CA
When you work with me
Central to our work together is painting, technique, and the choosing and handling of materials. I'll be sharing technical knowledge with you, and demonstrating many of the things I've learned over a lifetime. The material for my masterclass is structured, yet fluid, and geared to individual students and groups. It's slow, process-oriented type of learning that gets absorbed, a bit like an apprenticeship.
Then there's the mediation piece. And it's with us the whole time because it's a state of mind and being that invites more of us to be present as we create. Keys to the zone, so to speak. Sustainable practices naturally arise in coherent states like this. Imagine letting go of the need to get it right, performance anxiety, and those critical voices in your head. All possible, and a welcome relief when it happens.
I'm known to be gentle, however, I am a rebel with a cause. When you work with me, you'll sense my dedication to your success. I'll be directing you toward ownership of your own creative power. You don't have to paint like me. You will, however, very likely paint more like you, as your creative genius comes more distinctly into the foreground. I'll be helping you remove and replace misguided beliefs around your work, art, and where you want to go with it. In the process, as you apply what you learn, you'll gain greater clarity, and as you work, your skills will improve.
Featured painting in this article, Chard Sword, shown in progress. This painting is about aligning to the high, or divine masculine. The inspiration for this artwork came through for someone I was working with who was in the process of shifting his perception around his own creative nature. It speaks of a balance between masculine and feminine but goes beyond it as a concept. The harmony of nature, its softness, and its fierceness are represented here in the central frond, an upright chard leaf, which I call a sword. It allows and calls us to cut through untruths and mental concepts as we return to what feels good, right, and aligned in our highest vibration.
Our action-oriented, mentally dominant culture is being redefined. Every day as we turn our attention to what makes us feel whole and human, the changes we need most tend to occur. Not always comfortable as things re-arrange. The masculine energies of action and doing in our time have become corrupted by beliefs that drive people to go against Mother Nature and her ways. As humanity wakes up to its true creative nature the balance of everything slowly changes.
This is why I feel creativity is so important. It is an avenue for true self-empowerment, especially when highly aligned. Through my approach, which is a life practice, benefits in many areas of life tend to show up just because you do.
Dear Leslie, Thank you for being the catalyst for a profound shift in my perception. For the longest time, I’ve felt extremely hesitant to take any kind of art class, even backing out of a painting class in college at the last minute. Now, in my early thirties, I realize that a childhood diagnosis of “spatial learning disability” fostered a belief inside me that "I couldn't do art." Boy, was I wrong.
After just one month of working with you, I have some amazing paintings that I’m proud to show off. I can't wait to see what I'm able to create as I continue learning with you! I never thought that I wouldn't be able to stop thinking about making art! And, as I’ve been tapping into my creativity from a deep part of my soul, I’ve had some incredibly moving experiences. I now have a nighttime routine of drawing just before I fall asleep. Since I've begun doing that, I've slept better than I have in years.
Thank you for showing me a new and positively productive way that truly matches my personal and unique style. When we first spoke, you encouraged me when you said: "What you perceive as a limitation is actually a gift.” Over these past weeks, you’ve helped me understand that reality as I step more firmly each day onto the path of my greater creative potential.
Sincerely, Deborah, Northern Colorado
One of the things I really love about your workshops, Leslie, is that it helps me to move into the zone of my own creativity in ways I didn’t realize were possible. Now ideas and concepts, images and energy flow through me and out onto the paper with an ease now. Before I began, I felt resistance to “studying art”. What that meant to me in the past was a roadblock. Working with you has put a totally different and positive spin on it for me.
I am grateful to be able to re-connect to myself in new ways. I find myself in-the-zone more often and it definitely has a positive effect in practical everyday life. I just feel more whole and connected. This experience is not easy to describe but I know it’s my own interior world that is connecting to something larger than myself when I’m in this process.
After I've been creating, when I come out of that space, or spaciousness, and look at what I've created, painted, or drawn, I’m often surprised. It may not even be the picture I had in my mind's eye to begin with but afterward, I see all the pieces have a certain vitality and fit together in ways that are exciting, and make me want to continue with my art.
Until I personally experienced your work as a creative-zone coach and healer/art teacher I never could have guessed what working with you was like. It’s been a great investment and I'm enjoying the benefits as they ripple out into other aspects of my life.
Thank you again. Carol, Northern Colorado
Dear Leslie, I want to thank you for helping me reach my creative soul. For a long time, I have been trying to figure out why I have been vaguely unsettled and dissatisfied with any creative endeavors I have attempted. But because of your gentle prodding I have opened my heart and finally listened to what my inner creative voice has been telling me. I sense that you somehow understand what I am feeling and where my frustrations and joys come from. This has been quite a journey. Thank you for being my guide and mentor!
Susan, Northern Colorado
Dear Leslie, I wanted to take time to thank you for my artistic "breakthrough" as witnessed by my most recent watercolors. I've been taking watercolor and drawing lessons off and on for more than 10 years now. There were instructors who put out a still life, told me to paint it and I had to feel my way through the process with no guidance or encouragement. Then I had instructors who bogged me down with theories, elaborate color charts and an almost robotic approach to what was supposed to be a creative endeavor, next were the "paint by number" teachers. Aargh!
Thankfully last year I met you and for the first time, I had a teacher who taught me to see, really see, a teacher who asked me what I wanted from my paintings and who encouraged me to push my creative boundaries- making gentle suggestions and asking me to keep looking within to help my style emerge.
Now I'm really enjoying watercolor for the first time. I'm creating works that make me happy and fulfilled and as artist and winning praise from others too. You told me in class that I've always had style, but now with your help, I'm translating that freedom, color and confidence to the paper- with amazing results. I'm excited to see where this takes me.
Thanks for helping me grow as an artist and find joy in my unique expression of watercolor.
Caroline, Northern Colorado
Consider joining me for my next masterclass, or other workshops. I love teaching, and it's gratifying to watch as my students excel in their practice with greater confidence, efficacy and joy than ever before.
To browse a full list of my learning programs and services please visit my online shop here Artist Workshops and 1-1 Consultation in the dropdown menu.
Thank you for your interest in my work. If you have any questions please contact me.
Exquisite Paintings on the Nature of Flowers is a body of work based on a sophisticated visual analysis of nature's frequencies = LOVE. Ongoing, and now in phase two.