J.C. Leyendecker - Part 4

At the height of his fame J.C. Leyendecker was busy painting "Saturday Evening Post" covers. Three-hundred twenty-two of them in fact. Yet many people who aren’t into illustration art will easily confuse Leyendecker Post covers with Norman Rockwell’s.

When one gets to know Leyendecker’s work, then looks at early Rockwell Post covers, the Leyendecker influence becomes apparent. Subject matter-wise many of the whimsical and provincial themes and subjects people attribute to Rockwell were actually done years before by Leyendecker.

Considering his entire body of work however there are a few reasons why I love looking at any of Leyendeckers paintings. The first endearing quality are those slashing diagonal, confident brush strokes of his. It’s amazing how loose and free they seem, yet they render forms and textures so convincingly.

Look at how tangible surfaces and textures are, and yet they are still not executed in what I’d call a photo-realistic way. No areas are overworked at all, that's the beauty of his technique. Looks easy to do. But it's NOT. The only time I’ve ever seen a similar technique is from professional story-board artists using markers.

Which brings me to Leyendeckers formula for mixing oil medium. He used a special blend of turpentine, stand oil, and linseed oil, mixed fresh everyday in specific proportions. This mixture gave his paint a thin, slippery consistency, which showed no sign of texture on the canvas.

When not using the slash stroke technique, Leyendecker was able to work areas of the subject to such a smooth finish that it reads almost like porcelain. In the paintings and detail below, he uses both techniques. Staples of the classic Leyendecker look!