10/29/10

Weekly Book Suggestion

This weeks read is one of my favorite books on oil painting, An Artist Teaches: Reflections on the Art of Painting by David Leffel.


David Leffel is a master oil painter and a god among many painters today. He does mostly still life and some portraits but can, of course, paint anything. His style is Alla Prima, which means the work is started and finished in one painting session, but the term is also more loosely applied to any painting done in a direct, expressive style.


To put this book into the “how to” category seems somewhat of an insult, but in essence that’s what it is. It is also my most treasured book on oil painting partly because it has so much useful advice, and partly because it is a thing of beauty to have and to hold.

Pretty much every sumptuous page has either beautiful reproductions of his paintings, and/or very insightful and useful advice on painting. Sometimes the artist gets a bit too deeply philosophical in talking about his art and painting in general. At times I found myself thinking, “Yeah, whatever that means. What kind of brush is he using there?” but hey, I guess when you’re great and you know you’re great, you just can’t help yourself.

My copy of this book is like all other books I hold in high esteem, highlighted, post-it noted and dog-eared to death. But I took special care with this one because I love it so. I mean this book has everything; close-ups of paintings to see texture, idea generating material for my own still lifes, and in the back some really nice inspirational graphite and charcoal sketches which the artist has done in warm dark pigments on earth tone, and textured paper for an added visual connection to the old renaissance masters.


Everyone who appreciates beautiful representational art loves David Leffel’s work and his influence is huge in many circles. As a result many artists paintings these days look much like his. But is that really a bad thing? I don’t think it is, but you judge for yourself. They’re beautiful paintings and this is one of my favorite books of all time!

Thoughts or suggestions -  Joe@JoeWinklerArt.com