Saturday, May 21, 2016

David A Leffel, The Mastery Of Light Retrospective Exhibition

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to attend the opening reception of David Leffel's retrospective exhibition at the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art in Malibu.  It was a fantastic exhibition and it was great to see so many of David's paintings all in one place.

There were two rooms filled with portraits and still lives.  There was a great turnout and it was so fun to see everyone from The Artists Guild as well as workshop participants that I've met over the years.

As you can see, David has done many self portraits.  I have never attempted it and don't know if I would, but I always like to see how other people do it.

After taking a look at the paintings in the small room and catching up with some friends, I went into the large exhibition room.  This is where all my favorites were hanging.

This is a large portrait that David did years ago of Sherrie McGraw.  I was lucky enough to see this a few years ago during their Taos workshop and it is one of my favorite paintings ever.  I was so excited to see it again.

Do you recognize the couple in this painting?  It is John Mellencamp and Elaine Irwin!  John is an amazing singer and songwriter, but he is also a painter and took lessons from David Leffel.  When John and Elaine married, David was in attendance at the wedding and he was commissioned to paint this portrait of the couple. Sadly, they are now divorced and rumor has it that Mellencamp is dating Christie Brinkley.  Just to fill you in on the gossip :)

I love all of these still life paintings.  The light that travels across them is so beautiful.  A good reminder to myself that I need to pay more attention to that.

David signing books

A beautiful book was published for the exhibition and David spent almost the entire reception signing them.

Me with the man of the hour

Tim Newton and Jackie Kamin.  Tim is the chairman of the Salmagundi Club here in New York.  It was so fun to run into him at the show.

In the middle of all this, a crew was filming the reception!  They have been working on a documentary about David Leffel for the last three years.  The director told me that it should be finished up in a few months and then they will start submitting it to festivals.  I can't wait to see it.

Such a sweet story behind this painting.  I love the fact that he wanted to paint someone who had lived life.

Check out this close up.  The colors of the white vase are amazing.  So often we think a white vase has to be white, but adding in all the surrounding colors makes the vase look so rich and helps integrate it into the rest of the painting.

Tim Newton,  Jeremy Lipking and Gregg Kreutz.

My favorite pic of the night.  Such a sweet photo of David and Sherrie.

This was a fantastic exhibition.  If you are near Los Angeles or want to do a fun friends trip to LA for the weekend, you should definitely pay a visit to the show.  There were a bunch of us who got together with friends and made a fun weekend out of it.  I had never been to Malibu and it is absolutely one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.

The day after the show we did some sight seeing around Santa Monica.  A beautiful, fun place to hang out for the afternoon.  It was so fun to see the pier in person after seeing it several times in movies.  The perfect weather did not hurt either, especially since spring is only making sporadic appearances here in New York.


Hope you enjoyed this look at the exhibition.  I'm off to the studio now to try to finish up at least one of the three paintings I am working on.  Have a great rest of the weekend!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

It Takes A Village To Make A Painting

Today I am talking about the new painting that I mentioned in my last post.  It felt like this painting took forever, but when I started gathering my images, I realized that I started it on March 4th.  That was only two months ago, but it felt much longer.  This painting was very difficult, and without the help of some good friends, I would not have been able to finish it.

This was the original set up.  I've never painted a square vase like this, and it was a bit of a challenge.

As always, I started out by getting the set up blocked in.  This required a lot of quality time with my new BFF, the T-square.

It took hours to get the correct dimensions of the vase on to the canvas.  Every time I thought I had it, I would find something that was off.  Very frustrating to say the least.

Finally, it was time to get started on the background and the rest of the painting.  Things were not quite perfect, but I felt I just had to move on and start on the painting as a whole.

This isn't bad, but if you look closely, the vase seems a bit off.  I went nuts measuring and trying to figure out what was wrong, but I had no luck.  I just kept moving along.

I put in the blue pattern and put the shadows onto the white cloth.  I was still not happy, but could not figure out the cause of the problem.

When the background was completely dry, I put in the flowers and finished up the white cloth.  After sitting on it for a few days, I woke up at five am and decided to just wipe the whole thing down and forget it.  Luckily, my hubs was not having it.  When we walked into my studio building that day, he announced to my studio mates that I was going to wipe down the painting.  They vehemently objected and practically ran into my studio and threw themselves in front of it!  I'm so glad that they did, because it all worked out in the end and now I love the painting.

We all stood in my studio looking at the painting and they gave me some good advice on how to fix up a few areas.  Most important, the right side of the vase needed to be lighter, and the shadows on the bottom were way too dark. Shadows should not be in a jagged line, and the too dark bottom of the vase was taking away from the shadow on the left hand side.

I put those suggestions into action right away and they definitely helped, but things were still not quite right so I decided it was time to call in the big guns.  I packed the painting up and brought it over to Gregg's studio*.  Schlepping on the subway with a large, wet painting was not an easy task, but I'm so glad I did it because Gregg took one look at the painting and immediately saw the problem.

The reason my perspective was off no matter how much I measured and checked my lines is because I had no top plane on the vase!!  I had absolutely no idea that I was missing it because the vase is large and I am short so from my vantage point I could not see the top of it.  Gregg suggested drawing a line across the top of the vase.  I did and like magic, the perspective was correct.

The other problem that Gregg pointed out was my white cloth.  If you look at the photo above, you can see that I laid in the color using the shadow, mid tone, light formula.  However, this was not how the cloth was reading.  The shadows in the folds were the darkest part of the cloth.  Once I got that in, the rest of it flowed pretty easily.

I brought the painting back home and after looking at it for awhile, decided it needed something on the lower half to tie into the flowers on top.  I had bought the original bouquet in a florist shop near my studio and did not think I would be able to get another, but I got very lucky when I stopped into Trader Joe's to do some food shopping.  I always check out the bouquets for sale and buried deep in the back was one bouquet of the flowers I needed.  I grabbed it up and got to work integrating the colors of the flowers on the top half of the canvas to the rest of the painting.

This is where I left off yesterday, but after looking at it today, I decided it needed a little bit more debris, as David Leffel calls it.

I added a few more flower buds to the shelf and the white cloth as well as adding some of the floral color to the shelf.    I'm sure no one would have noticed either way, but being obsessive about these little details are what makes a painting truly finished.

This is the finished painting.  I'm so happy that I did not wipe it down so THANK YOU to everyone who made sure that did not happen!

*PS - if you don't mind a plug for a friend, Gregg Kreutz's new book, Oil Painting Essentials, is coming out on May 24th.  I learned everything I know from him, so if you are interested in my style of painting, hop over to Amazon and take a look!