The Great Leffel – Despite Sour Grapes Bill

 by Lisa

leffel-pears-berries-bird-feeder1.jpg Pears, Berries, and Bird Feeder by David Leffel

Thanks to those who responded to my last post regarding a few quotes by David Leffel. First, I would like to clear up a little confusion that some may have had about the first–“If you can’t paint, paint big”. I think that he was referring to painting things that are larger than actual size. Suzie talked about a beautiful tryptic landscape she had seen that was huge, and related it to painting big. I really don’t think that was what Leffel meant by painting big, and would probably appreciate such a painting himself.

Also, it is possible I miss quoted him for the second regarding abstract painters, though I seem to remember him actually saying “…how do they know when they’re done?”.  Joanne added a spin on that with his quote “How do they know when they are getting better?”.

The first, most frequent, and hot-around-the-collar responder was our very own Bill who delivered quite a lashing to my beloved Leffel. I will start by correcting one of the first things he said, a minor thing, but let me make it perfectly clear that Leffel does not paint “black” backgrounds. They are dark sometimes because he is a chiaroscuro painter, but they certainly are not black for anyone who might take that wrong and try to emulate the great Leffel.

Bill seemed a bit testy accusing Leffel of thinking he was “the last word in correct technique”.  When you are Leffel’s age, and you are as accomplished as he is, I personally think you’ve earned that right, or as Joanne put it “If I could paint like Leffel, I’d be damn arrogant too.” I can’t think of another painter except Odd baby who I would place in that category. And why can’t an artist specialize in one thing Bill? I also disagree with your scathing assessment of his portrait work with “his figure paintings look like they have some terminal wart like skin disease”. I think you needed to take two aspirin and put your feet up with a good Leffel book in front of you before responding to my post.

As far as abstract work is concerned, several of you implied that abstract work is like a cliche–a worn-out expression. It had its time and place, and I think that is why I am so humored by Leffel’s comments about it. I personally think abstract paintings should be placed in the category of ‘design’ rather than ‘art’. I also think if you are going to call yourself an abstract artist, you should have all your fundamentals of representational art down first. Earn your wings before you can fly, but then that’s just my opinion. I wouldn’t want to sound like the final word on something lest Bill should call me arrogant. Oh yeah, he’s out of town!!! Lord I hope he can’t get Internet on that ship.

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