Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A Visit To The Studios Of David Leffel And Sherrie McGraw

Hello Everyone and Happy 2016!  I ended up taking a little blog break and I have so much to tell you.  I have four finished paintings that I will be posting about, but the big news is that I now have my own painting studio!  I am beyond excited about this.  I have been sharing a space for a few years and while it was great and I was so grateful to have it, I started needing more space nearly two years ago.

I have a ton of paintings piled up against my bookshelves at home and I was having to schlep my still life props back and forth.  Those blue and white vases are heavy!  Additionally, I was just out of room.  It had become hard to find things and when I did want to search for something it required moving a bunch of stuff around.  Not a big hardship by any means, but it did cause productivity issues.

I have a board on Pinterest called "Fantasy Art Studio" where I've been saving images for a few years, but on my trip to Taos I was extremely fortunate to visit the ultimate in art studios in person.

You may remember that in the fall of 2014 I attended a workshop in Taos, NM, given by David Leffel, Sherrie McGraw, Gregg Kreutz and Jackie Kamin.  We had a great time painting the landscape and seeing the demos at night, but the highlight of the trip for me was the closing night party.  The party took place at the home of David and Sherrie and while their home is over the top gorgeous, it was their art studios had everyone standing around in awe.  We were overwhelmed by the spaces, they were just so beautiful.  I decided then that if I ever had my own space, I wanted to model it on those two rooms.

I'll start with David's studio.  Above is the still life he was working on at the time.  When we walked into the studio people were just walking around with their mouths hanging open.  It was like being in Rembrandt's studio hundreds of years ago.  He had the gray/green walls, wood floors, easels and furniture, a gorgeous rug and tons of beautiful props and paintings.  It was dusk so some of the pictures may seem a bit dark, but you can definitely get a feel for the atmosphere of the studio.

I use a shelf for my still life set ups, but David has enough room to have a large table.  That is so great for doing a huge set up.

Painting By David Leffel

Above is the gorgeous model we had at the workshop.  There were David Leffel paintings all over the place (obviously).  I've seen one or two at a time at the Salmagundi Club and other galleries, but here there were a ton just hanging out.  It was such a treat so see.

The photo above shows the light source for the room.  Three north light windows provide all the light.  We all paint by natural light only.  It can be dark, but the natural light and the dark walls keep light from bouncing around and help make the dark shadows that make all the difference in our still life paintings.

There was a lot of stuff packed into this space, but it was all very neat and organized.  Something I'm looking forward to in my own studio.

The prop shelves were to die for.  Tons of blue and white pottery, vintage brass pots, dried flowers.  It was just beautiful.

The man himself

Right next door is Sherrie McGraw's studio.  It is very similar to David's but there are a few differences.  Sherrie has the most amazing chaise for models and an incredible still life prop collection.  Lets take a look.

Sherrie in her studio

Drawings by Sherrie McGraw

As you can see,  just a beautiful studio.  Gorgeous props, books, wooden painting racks.  It was amazing.  And it was so lovely to see Sherrie's beautiful drawings and paintings hanging everywhere.

This was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I cannot thank David and Sherrie enough for the incredible generosity they showed all of us.  I can't think of too many artists who would happily and graciously welcome a horde of people into their home and studios.

In my next post I'll give you a rundown on the plans for transforming my studio into something resembling the beauty we have seen here.

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