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In the Studio with Leslie Rottner


If you love layers, and nature, and vintage, just wait until you see Lesley's creations!  

Let's start by letting her introduce herself.


Hi, my name is Leslie Rottner and I’m an artist and workshop instructor living in Lake Placid, New York. I work primarily in analog collage but cross over to mixed media as the two work so well together. As a self taught artist, I use an intuitive and thoughtful approach to transform often overlooked materials into a new visual story. My collage work is created with vintage papers, old books, type, and ephemera. I draw inspiration from the age and imperfections that these materials embody and I create art with a fresh contemporary feel. My work ranges from simple and contemplative to abstract and energetic.

From a very young age I knew that I was a maker. For me there was no other feeling quite as magical as making something that didn’t exist before I made it. That feeling has stayed with me my entire life. I find creating with my hands is the most therapeutic action I can take and I find my ability to become lost in the process calms my over active brain. I am the very best version of myself when I can create something and let it go out into the world.


Please tell us more about what it means to be a self-taught artist.

First I would like to say thank you for this opportunity to share a little about my work. I am self taught for sure...I started working in collage about 8 years ago and haven’t stopped since. I can’t paint or draw so working with aged and imperfect papers, book parts, ephemera, etc was so appealing to me. I have always enjoyed the hunt for materials so that is a plus. I really just started putting things on paper to see what I liked and as a result I made a lot of bad art but over time I fine tuned

my particular style.


When did you know that making art was something that you could do
as a career?

I dabbled in selling my art at local shows and etsy but I wasn’t consistent. I moved to Lake Placid 4 years ago with my husband and started as soon as I could.

I now work at it every day and treat it

like my job.

The first job that I have ever loved.


Did you start with mix media?

I started with collage but eventually realized that I could do both and they really work so well together.

What is it about mix media that you love?

I love the many layers that can be created with mixed media. It definitely draws the viewer in close to see what is beneath.

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Where do you find the vintage papers that you use in your art?


Can you describe your create process as you collage?

When I come into my space everything else on my mind falls away. I am completely engrossed in my creative space. I don’t always know what I am going to be working on but I just gather up materials that speak to me and start putting things down.

I work very intuitively.

Right now I am working in an old ledger. The reason I started this was to try different techniques and have it all in one place. It is a generous size and I usually do a two page spread. I’m not the kind of person who does things daily so my journal work is just when I feel like working in it. I also skip a page in between so that I can take it out to frame it if I really love it.


Tell us about creating in a journal.

That is the fun part. I find things everywhere!! I love going to estate sales and vintage shops to find old materials. I love to dig in boxes to find stuff that other people don’t want. With covid, that was nearly impossible to do, so I bought from people on Instagram or even ebay on occasion.

Your studio is so beautiful. Have you always had

this kind of space for yourself and your art?

Thank you so much. The short answer is no but I have always tried to carve out a space for myself. When we moved to Lake Placid my husband finished this concrete area of the basement so I could have a place to work. I had wanted to have in person classes but covid put a damper on that. I am hopeful that I will be able to do that soon.


When did you decided to make paint brushes? 

I started making the brushes on a whim. I realized one day that I had all the materials and decided to try them. I posted on IG and people seemed to like them. The next batch I said I would sell and they sold out right away. 

I have made hundreds now and do a monthly shop update. I also started a 3 month subscription which has worked out really well. They are fun to work with by creating layers in mixed media.


Tell us more about dedicated art on Fridays.

This came about because I was working on the art brushes most of the time and my actual art work was taking a back seat. I decided that having one day specifically for art was something that was needed. It is working well and I really look forward to it.

No brushes on Friday!!


I would really like to start some in person classes. My studio is not huge so I could only get 5-6 people in a class. I still think it would be so much fun. I don’t have any new art forms on the horizon but my work is always evolving. I am getting ready to launch some of my black and white images to use in collage. These will be for sale on my website as downloads in the next week or two. I love using photography in collage and I often print on tissue paper to do this. Now they will be available for other artists 

 to try it too.

What is next for you?

Find Leslie Here
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