Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Lesley Riley

Whatever you can do, or dream you can do begin it.
 Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

am the mother of six children, who now have children of their own. I was the primary caretaker of my 88 year old legally blind father who passed on last year. I maintain a household, cook, (he cleans) for my husband and I. To date, I have 9 beautiful grandchildren. All but two live nearby and I spend quality time with them frequently. 

From 1983 to 2003 I worked full time with my husband in our own real estate appraisal business. In 2001 I decided I wanted to return to college (part-time) to complete the undergraduate degree I started back in 1970. I finally graduated (magna cum laude) in 2001. 

I clearly remember the day I realized that it was time for me to start living the life I desired. It was the summer of 1983, July. I was sitting in a darkened theater with my husband watching Field of Dreams.  It was my defining moment.  I was 36 years old and I didn’t have time for excuses anymore.  After many busy, but unhappy years not creating art (because I thought I didn’t have time or talent,) I came to the simple realization that making art made me happy. My happiness was dependent upon my finding a way to fit art into my life. Discovering how to do this didn’t come all at once, nor was it an overnight process. That’s another story. Today I am talking about TIME – finding the time to make my dream of being an artist come true.

Fast forward to the winter of 1995. My youngest was 8 months old. As part of my journey to become an artist, I was taking an evening class called Unlocking Creativity. The homework assignment was to turn a negative into a positive. The negative was obvious – NO TIME for art. But how could I turn that into something positive? I knew I was going to have to find time, perhaps even make time. Could I really create time? And how could I do it in a tangible way to complete my assignment.  The solution was not to make time, but to make use of the time that was already present in my day.


That week (and to this day) every five or ten minutes of free time I had I did something art related.  I decided to see how much art time I could actually create in a week. In order to have something tangible to show to the class, I recorded those minutes on blocks of wood left over from the ongoing renovation of our house – visible blocks of time!  At the next class I presented the teacher with a box full of my blocks of time. In 5 0r 6 days I had accumulated over eight hours of art time.  Those little blocks of time added up. The secret is the piecing together of seemingly disparate blocks to create a wondrous whole – like in making a quilt or collage.  The key is to be ready to create art on a moment’s notice and to do the kind of art that lends itself to spontaneity.  

Since that time, I have created over 50 handmade cloth dolls, written 8 books, created artwork for those books and contributed projects or art to over 30 other published books. I have written over 25 magazine articles, filmed 4 DVDs, made 5 TV guest appearances. Since 2001 I have travelled worldwide lecturing and teaching art to thousands of women (and a few men). I’m not telling you all of this to brag but to make a point. 

If I can fit art into my life, I can assure you that you can too. 
It is never, never, too late to take time for yourself and your dream. 
At 63,  I still feel like I'm just getting started.

If you want to know Lesley a little better here are some links: