Larger Than Life?

by Lisa

Two of the funniest things I ever heard a painter say came from the mouth of artist David Leffel, who, by the way, set me well on my way to the “snobbery”, which I have been referring to. He said, “If you can’t paint, paint big.” He also said, in a discussion on abstract painters, “What I don’t get, is how do they know when they’re done [with a painting]?” Why am I humored be these? Why do they ring a true note? Do you agree? Do they piss you off?

I want to publish your comments in my next post which I will cut and paste from the comments page on this post.  I think many readers do not bother to read the comments, which is why I will put them on the “front” page for what will certainly be a heated argument. Make ’em good.

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13 Responses to Larger Than Life?

  1. wrjones says:

    What pisses me off is the arrogance of Leffel. He paints his small black background works very well. This is not a fantasic accomplishment as it is all he has done for an entire career. So you paint small still lifes well, goody. He talks about paint application as though he is the last word in correct technique, but his figure paintings look like they have some terminal wart like skin disease.

    He should show some balls and paint something different where he might fail.

  2. wrjones says:

    The funniest thing I ever heard regarding painting was when I overheard a man tell a clerk in an art supply store that he didn’t care if it took him a YEAR to learn to paint, he was going to do it.

  3. Susie Ciufo says:

    One of the top landscape painters of our time is Wilson Hurley. He painted a series called Windows To The West, a monumental series of five triptychs, or three-panel paintings, commissioned by the Noble Foundation and installed in the Sam Noble Special Events Center of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. The triptychs, each measuring nearly 40 feet wide and 16 feet tall, celebrate the magnificence of five distinctive landscapes of the American Southwest: the lower falls of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, the Pacific Ocean at Point Lobos, California, the Sandia Mountains of New Mexico with the Rio Grande in the foreground, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and Utah’s Monument Valley. Each one took 3-5 years to complete. They are breathtaking on paper….Oh to think what they would be like to see in person. Normally I gravitate to art that is less realistic & more expressive or impressionistic, I love the interplay of light,color & pattern of a painting more than anything…to each his own.

  4. Ray says:

    Art is when you stop thinking about canvas and colours and find yourself within the painted thoughts of someone else!

    ..but that’s just me playing with dark letters.

  5. l0veyalikew0ah says:

    I tend to agree as far as abstract art goes. When IS it done?

  6. ivdanu says:

    I don’t think the “big thing” works anymore… Too many have already applied that advice… As for the abstract artists – I already said it somewhere else but it’s still true – that’s a cul de sac, a dead end if you apply that (painting ONLY non-figurative paintings; abstract doesn’t exist, in my opinion!) consecvently. It could lead you to suicide, as I suppose it did in the case of Mark Rothko or Nicholas de Stael. A study of abstract painter who committed suicide (and how much of their gesture was determined by the INSATISFACTION of always painting non-figurative) should be an interesting and significative study…

  7. kevmoore says:

    Perhaps I can shed a little light on this, from a laymans point of view- Abstract art is when you’ve made a mess of it? (that would be my excuse, anyway)

  8. wrjones says:

    Ok, Ok – I’m very biased toward representational work but let’s keep an open mind here. You can often struggle with determining when a realistic painting is done.

    There are some abstract paintings that have wide appeal. The design of shapes and colors arouses an emotional response.

    After it is complete, it is easy to look at some work and say that is so simple, I could do that. Not counting works that are all one flat color, you probably could not do that. Try it sometime. Splash some paint and see if it has any appeal to anyone. Most likely not. Graphics design takes some experience and skill. As in everything, some people are extremely good at it and keep comming up with new combinations of shapes and colors. Then you look at them and say why didn’t I think of that.

    There is an abstact painter (a young lady I think) that blogs. I looked at some of her pieces and was very impressed. However, I did not keep track of how I found the blog and have not seen it for awhile. I think it is a wordpress blog.

  9. JoAnne Unger says:

    David Laffel said, “How do abstract painters know when they are getting better?”

    Good point methinks.

    If I could paint like Leffel, I’d be damn arrogant too.

  10. wrjones says:

    Why? There are many painters as good or better who are not arrogant and don’t spend any time belittling others. He is a very good painter, no doubt about that, but so are thousands of others you’ve never heard of.

    Every painting is a design and is abstract. You don’t have a real tree there, it is an abstraction. When do you stop painting bark on your tree? When do you suggest a leaf and when make it more defined? How many do you put on the tree?

    In the end every painting rises or falls on its design whether photo real (still an abstraction) or totally abstract. The painter stops when he feels the design is complete or when he/she needs a drink.

    Just think of the purely abstract as a design. A good design is tough. Think of all the graphic designs on TV or on all the products we buy at the grocery. Some of those designs attract us, some repel. Some we conciously select based on perceived attractiveness some we unconciously select.

    Try to design a shampoo label that will make the buyer want your product.

    Try to design an area rug or carpet – don’t cheat now, let’s not use a one color no shapes arrangement.

    I would not walk across the street to view an abstract art show but I have seen abstract works that I thought were beautiful and I have tried many times to draw a black and white design thumbnail for a painting and found it not so easy.

  11. frodo441 says:

    …technically excellent work of art, as finely crafted as it is…works and are in good company…personally I like abstract and surreal representations and period pieces…It’s good because it shows that the artist is intouch with the creative sense of a young vision that is fun to use…representative of a natural ability to be in touch with representations that make a good piece of commentary and are unconscious wills coming to light in representing things in the psyche life and social commentary…these type’s of art such as Picasso and Dali to name just a few…are exquisite manifestations.

  12. Rick Nilson says:

    Painting is different from other pleasurable activities in that it is difficult to know when you are finished.

  13. Rick Nilson says:

    When painting, unlike other activities, ecomony of stroke is a virtue.

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