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Good morning McKinney!

Today I want to shed some light on another local artist, Leslee Ortega. I imagine many of you are familiar with Leslee’s paintings of animals. Her talent in showing an animal’s personality combined with the tell-tale neon background makes Leslee’s art not only very recognizable, but very sought after.

Leslee’s story didn’t begin with a paint brush in hand, but instead at the helm of a computer. For the majority of her career, Leslee worked in corporate America, and solved business problems through the use of technology. She always loved art, however, and in 1999 began taking lessons, “My goal was to learn how to draw something, and I began changing my identity from tech to creative,” she told me as we visited on her living room couch.

As a classically trained painter, Leslee works mostly in oils but broke from the muted palette of Renaissance art soon after beginning. She explained to me her brain’s tendency to color-code the days of the week as well as people (I’m a yellow by the way!) The concept of color is obviously a significant part of Leslee’s existence, and it is transferred into her creations. As we visited, Leslee pointed to a painting hanging nearby. It was her first project, a copy of Blue Dog by George Rodriguez and it was the genesis of her painting career. Believe it or not, once Blue Dog was completed, Leslee didn’t paint again for 12 years! Below is a photo of her second painting, a portrait of her daughter’s cat.

Now all of Leslee’s paintings are characterized by the same bold colors.

In 2014, Leslee and her husband moved from California…a time Leslee playfully refers to as The Disruptive Move to Texas. The displacement from everything she knew and loved prompted Leslee to question how she would fit in to her new town. How would she make friends? Leslee decided to get involved in McKinney’s art community, a decision her husband Mike fully supported, “He has been my biggest cheerleader, and helped me take my first baby steps. He even helped me meet Annie Royer, owner of The Cove.” The McKinney artist community has been so welcoming and helped validate her desire to create. Leslee now recognizes if The Disruptive Move to Texas hadn’t occurred, likely none of this would have happened.


I would also like to add that Leslee is a gifted teacher. She taught my Caleb at Art Camp last summer! Below are some pictures of the art show Leslee held this fall at The Cove for all her students…including Caleb Palmer.



Thank you Leslee for being The Art of Living Beautifully’s featured artist for December 2017! Friends,you can find Leslee at — NOTE TO ALL ANIMAL LOVERS: You must most definitely visit Leslee’s site because her wide variety of artwork will speak to both dog and cat people alike! Custom portraits also available!

Photo credit: Kristen Harper with Peacock Photography

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