This Mom Learned New Skills During Pandemic

Contemporary Art by Leslie Galerie

Leslie Castañeda came into the art scene quite late at 48-years-old. One evening, after a day of working as a marketing consultant, she and her daughter stumbled upon the mesmerizing style of fluid art painting through a YouTube video. Already with a growing sense of creativity, she decided to try her hand in the medium.  Through practice and effort guided by her son, Alphons, a creative director and graduate of Visual Communication from UP College of Fine Arts, she honed her skills. This newfound passion eventually became a way for her to meditate through the trying times of the pandemic.

After much encouragement from her family, Leslie decided to exhibit her art through Instagram and Facebook with brand direction from Alphons, as well as concept-making and copywriting help from her daughter Anika, a Creative Writing graduate from UP College of Arts and Letters

Leslie Galerie was soon established, an online platform for her to, not only engage with the community of artists to keep growing and learning, but also share her paintings to the world so that others may also have the something to color their hearts and homes, as Leslie did for hers.

Marketing consultant on the weekdays, contemporary abstract artist on the weekends. This is Leslie.

Interview Questions with Leslie:

1. How has 2021 been so far for you, personally and workwise? 

2021 definitely had a lot of ups and downs for me. With my day job, I’ve been fortunate enough to still be able to continue to work. Personally, the start of 2021 was not good as my youngest sister unexpectedly passed away. As a family, we’re still very much grieving. But in spite of that, I still go through the days to keep strong for my family. Painting and making art have been a good way for me to de-stress when the going gets tough.

2. What inspired you to pursue art? Do you have any formal trainings? 

One evening in September 2020, my daughter asked me to watch this YouTube video with her over dinner. It was a video about fluid art painting – I had never seen that kind of technique because it was very interesting and mesmerizing. After a while, I kept watching more videos about such a technique. I thought it was so cool and unique, I decided to try it out myself one weekend. Then it turned into a sort-of weekend routine as my downtime for the week. It became a time for me to meditate, ultimately becoming a safer alternative to what I did before the pandemic: joining marathons, going hiking in mountains, and eating out with family.

I didn’t receive any formal training. When I started out, I would consult my son, a Fine Arts graduate of the University of the Philippines. But I’m mostly self-taught, learning through YouTube videos and other artists online. I also do my own research regarding color palettes and other tips and techniques.

3. Please tell us about Leslie Galerie. What is it about? When was it launched and what's the why behind its launch? 

I would share some of the finished products of my paintings to my close friends and family. They were really impressed and supportive of the results. They began encouraging me, telling me that there’s a potential for me to be a bit more public with my art. Eventually, after much encouragement from them, in November 2020, I decided to establish online platforms through Instagram and Facebook to share my artworks. There was so much support and positive responses from other friends, other relatives, and even strangers. 

So, I kept painting and selling my art, even taking on commissions from enthusiastic customers.

4. What were the challenges in creating Leslie Galerie in the midst of the pandemic? 

Some of the challenges usually involve logistics and material supplies. A lot of materials involved in fluid art painting aren’t readily available here in the Philippines. Although there is an option to ship it from abroad, the shipping fees are quite expensive and there are a lot of customs restrictions given the situation of the pandemic. Other than that, usual challenges are managing my time, work-life balance, trying to keep the inspiration going. 

5. How are sales like during the pandemic? 

I’ve been very fortunate to experience a general good flow of sales despite the pandemic and despite being a novice artist. Of course, it’s not as fast and as plenty as the ideal. But it’s understandable given how everyone has their own concerns during this time of crisis. Plus, I still have a long way to go. But everyone has been very supportive, and I’m blessed to be recommended by friends and family to their own friends and relatives. 

6. You’re also working as Marketing consultant; how do you find time for your artwork? 

Work-life balance is one of the challenges I face. But I still enjoy my day job and I’m proud of the work I do there, so of course it’s still a priority for me. The relaxation I feel from painting and doing Leslie Galerie complements the fast-paced, corporate environment of my day job. 

7. What is the most rewarding/fulfilling part of having like this? 

One of the reasons why I also decided to establish Leslie Galerie was a way for me to generate funds for my younger sister’s cancer medications. With that regard, it’s been really fulfilling when someone buys a painting knowing that I can keep supporting my sister. Another thing that’s rewarding is having a customer fall in love with fluid art technique and enthusiastically commission me, telling me the colors that they want to see in their own homes.

8. What are your future plans for the business? 

There aren’t totally concrete plans since I’m just starting out. But I do want to officially launch a website for easier transactions and to also be able to exhibit my paintings in a gallery, especially when the pandemic is over.

9. How do you envision the future of art in the Philippines? 

I think it’s very ambitious for me to say anything about this. But I do hope that every artist continues to freely make the art that they love. I know it’s quite hard to earn a living from making art, especially in the Philippines. I hope people patronize art more and realize the importance they give to us. So I hope that art here in the Philippines continues to flourish.

10. How can people find Leslie Galerie? Is there an actual gallery where people can visit? 

Right now, there is no physical gallery. Everything is online to keep everyone safe this pandemic. You can see all my works in my Facebook page (Contemporary Art by Leslie Galerie) and Instagram page (@leslie.galerie). It’s nothing much, but I also have a YouTube page where I post video details of the paintings so that people can have a better look. I encourage everyone to follow me on my social media pages, so you’ll be updated of my new creations and paintings. 

Sample artworks from Leslie Galerie:

Title: “The Cave”
Enter and see what the wonders the walls hold. 
Medium: Acrylic on stretched premium canvas; Matte finish
Dimensions: Glass Framed: 23” x 26” | Year: October 2020

 Artist Statement: “We don't look twice when it comes to rocks and the sedimentary. But there's so much beauty in the layers and the textures. There's actually an array of colors with how light and darkness can play on the walls of a cave.”

Title: “Goldmine” 
Fortune favors those who explore. 
Medium: Acrylic on stretched premium canvas; Matte finished with gold leaf element
Dimensions: Glass Framed: 18” x 22” | Year: October 2020

 Artist Statement: Much like “The Cave”, I was inspired by the concept of finding beauty in the rocks. I wanted to convey that inspite of roughness and darkness, there is something mesmerizing and precious underneath. Goldmine touches on the concept of always digging deeper until you hit the jackpot.

Title: “Latte” (sold as a pair)
Brewing those earthy flavors in a sea of milk.
Medium: Acrylic on stretched premium canvas; Matte finish
Dimensions: Glass Framed – 20” x 23” | Year: January 2021

Artist Statement: We’re all aware of unique style of latte art. And with the way fluid art moves, I thought of capturing the same vibe as well. I’m also an avid coffee drinker, which I know a lot of people have been enjoying as well nowadays with the rise of good baristas.

  “Latte” (Close-Up)

Title: “Grey Matter
The union of black and white.
Medium: Acrylic on stretched premium canvas; Matte finish
Dimensions: Framed – 24” x 34” | Year: February 2021

Artist Statement: I was thinking about the divide between the arts and sciences when I created Grey Matte. I most associate the colors black and white with science because of their serius tones. But I believe in these colors can evoke beauty and artistry. This painting is a merge between the opposing fields, which actually rely and need each other in life.

Know more about Leslie Castañeda, by following her official Facebook Page called Contemporary Art by Leslie Galerie. She's on Instagram, too! Follow her IG via @leslie.galerie for more details. 

JL Santiago Aquino

A millennial lifestyle blogger from Caloocan City who adores trying new things. ✨ Email: Follow @JayL_Aquino on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok & Facebook.


  1. I comment when I especially enjoy a post on a website or I have something to valuable to contribute to the discussion. Usually it's triggered by the passion communicated in the article I read. And after this article. I was actually moved enough to post a thought :-) I do have a couple of questions for you if it's allright. Could it be simply me or does it look like some of these comments appear like they are coming from brain dead individuals? :-P And, if you are writing at other social sites, I'd like to follow anything new you have to post. Would you list the complete urls of your shared pages like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

  2. Hi there! This post could not be written much better! Going through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept preaching about this. I will send this information to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!