David A Leffel
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
David: ” I paint oil portraits, figures, still life and landscape in the chiaroscuro manner. I am known for the dramatic light that I achieve as well as their beautiful paint quality. As well, people seek me out because of the human quality I get in my figure and portrait work. My art studio is located in Taos, New Mexico in the USA.”
When did you start painting?
I started painting at approximately age 30. I attended Frank Mason’s class at the Art Students League of New York to learn the way of chiaroscuro painting. I was in his class for 8 months and then left in a scandal. Frank, a little drunk, came into class one day with a friend of his—it seemed in retrospect—solely to show off. He came to my easel (Frank considered me one of his best students) where I was painting a portrait. He started to show something on the painting, so I left to go to the cafeteria. When I returned, he had completely ruined my painting! There was nothing left but a smear of light paint! Horrified and in a fit of rage, I took a hunting knife from my friend, slashed the painting, and then broke the stretcher bars over my knee. That was my last day in Frank’s class.
What inspires you to paint?
The thing that has always inspired me is beauty. When my subject matter is bathed in north light so that there is a strong light and shadow on the object, my artistic imagination is stimulated.
Describe your artwork in 5 – 10 words.
I paint portraits, still life, interiors and occasional landscapes from a chiaroscuro viewpoint. Establishing a connection with the subject is necessary for me, and collectors feel this is reflected in the quiet strength of my work.
What materials, techniques and tools have you used to create your artwork?
I paint on linen canvas that I prime myself with 2 coats of rabbit skin glue and 3 coats of white lead. I paint with hogs hair bristle brushes in the filbert style, and the medium I use is maroger medium, which I get from my friends Michael Siegel and Brad Lorbach at oldmastersmaroger.com. But perhaps the most important tool I use in my work is intelligence.
What subjects do you like to paint and why?
I am mostly drawn to paint people and still life in my large north light studio.
Did you go to an art college or are you self taught?
Although I studied drawing and anatomy at Parsons School of Design with some exceptional teachers; went to the Art Students League of New York; and had the good fortune to be mentored and inspired by Dmitri Romanovsky; what I paint today and what I know about painting have largely been discovered by my self.
Do you have a career in art or is it a hobby?
Art has been my career for nearly 60 years.
If you had a choice of just four colors, what would they be?
Lead white, ultramarine blue, cadmium red light and yellow ochre deep
Can you give us a fun fact about yourself?
I love to teach and now with the possibilities that the internet affords, I stream a live program every Sunday at 11am Mountain Time in the USA on Facebook on Bright Light Fine Art‘s page. It is a way that I can teach people from all over the world. They write in questions and Sherrie McGraw relays them to me. Sometimes I even paint for the audience. It is one of the most enjoyable teaching experiences I’ve had…and very rewarding.
What medium do you use the most?
Although I still draw, oil is and has always been my favorite medium. As someone once said, “If God could paint, he’d paint in oil.”
Which artist inspires you?
Rembrandt van Rijn is the artist I have most admired my entire career.