Leslie Watts

Home: Stratford, Ontario
Title: Two
Media: Egg tempera on Claybord
Dimensions: 70 x 100 cm
Website: www.lesliewatts.ca


Two captures a fleeting moment of calm on a summer’s afternoon when the exhausted mother of a two-year-old finally finds respite in the shade of a hammock. The painting is a study in pink and blue. The low angle of the sun offers its gorgeous warm light, while the shadowy, semi-transparent fabric of the hammock acts as a counterbalance with its suggestion of underwater cool. The toddler is the focus of the portrait, his pearly skin catching the greatest intensity of light, although it is his mother’s embrace that drives the composition. Together they signal the lifelong push and pull of the parent-child relationship, their hot faces subtly deformed where they are pressed together, while the mother’s encircling arms bring comfort and gentle restraint to her son.


Leslie Watts was born in Canada in 1961. She began painting full-time in 2007 after spending nearly two decades as a writer and children’s book illustrator. Since then, she has exhibited annually at Village Studios in Stratford, Ontario, and her portraits were selected for the BP Portrait Award Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, London, UK (2013/14/15); the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition at Mall Galleries, London, UK (2017 and 2019); and The Kingston Prize, in which she won Honourable Mention in 2015 and 2019 and People’s Choice in 2017. Portrait commissions include The Honourable Chrystia Freeland for Rhodes House, Oxford, UK (2018); Roy Romanow, Chancellor of the University of Saskatchewan (2019); Jim Leech, Chancellor of Queen’s University (2021); Shelagh Rogers, Chancellor of the University of Victoria (2022); and The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario (unveiling TBA).