10 Questions with Lesley Nowlin

Davis Gallery is kicking off our Fall 2014 season with “Face Value“, an exhibition that explores how we perceive faces, and interpret personal identity for ourselves and others.  This show will include traditional portrait photography, collage, and elemental images. We are immensely proud to show the work of Leon Alesi, Scott David Gordon, Lesley Nowlin, and Jamie Panzer.

Lesley Nowlin is a photographer and conceptual artist based in Austin, TX.  She began photographing in her teenage years.  She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Hartford.  Her work focuses on posed subjects and creating a narrative world from her imagination.

Lesley Nowlin

Lesley Nowlin

How did you get started?

My dad photographed a lot when I was growing up.  When I was about 13 or 14, I remember him showing me how to meter light on a Leica Rangefinder in the backyard.

Who or what has had a major impact on your career?

My parents and my twin sister.

Describe a typical day in the studio.

First, I come up with my concept for the specific shoot. I schedule it with the twins and hair/makeup stylists.  Shoot usually takes 3-4 hours, all shot digitally with Canon 5D Mark II.  Go home and select through 400-500 images.  Usually edit 5-10 that I love. Then I hone in on 1-2 that are the best for my project. Visually edit the image with high contrast, cut the image (in Photoshop) into separate images for be printed individually. Most full pieces in this series are longest side 10-30 inches. Turn image into a visual negative (can take a while).  Print negatives. Go to darkroom and start printing platinum, line the vellum with composition leaf, flatten the prints between many processes. Varnish, cut, adhere together.  Final varnish.  Take to framer.

All of this can take up to a month to complete.

"Wind", platinum print on vellum composition gold leaf, 30 x 20

“Wind”, platinum print on vellum composition gold leaf

Tell us a bit about your new work in Face Value.

These pieces are an elemental reflection of the struggle and comfort you can find in being a twin. Throughout the years, growing up with someone by your side and having a partner since the womb can be a comforting and struggling experience. I’m hoping to show the angst of wanting to be different than your twin, and the natural calmness you feel of knowing your partner twin will always be there with you.  You don’t have to open your eyes to know their presence is there.  Twins have to learn partnership at a very early age.

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?

A soccer coach or investigator.

When (if ever) do you feel like a piece is finished?

Usually when it’s framed and I can’t touch it again. I have to be good with it by then.

Single best invention in your opinion.


What item would you be lost without?

My camera.

And now for the most important question: Who would you say has the best margarita in town?

Hmm… hardest question!  Maybe La Condesa?  I should ask my husband, he drinks more margaritas than me!

Thanks Lesley!!

Face Value September 6- October 18, 2014

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Face Value opens September 6, reception from 7-9pm at Davis Gallery.   The show runs through October 18.

Check back for more interviews with other artists in the show!


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