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 David A. Leffel  (1931 - )

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Lived/Active: New Mexico/New York      Known for: classical real still life and portrait painting, teaching

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Ad Code: 3
David A Leffel
from Auction House Records.
Anasazi Vase with Mayan Plate & Chinese Lanterns
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born and raised in New York City, David Leffel is a painter in the style of early Dutch and Flemish painters such as Vermeer and Rembrandt.  His childhood was quite different from most children as he spent eleven years, from the ages of 4 until 15, in the hospital with osteomyelitis, a bone disease.  During this time, he developed a love of art expression, especially drawing.

Following high school graduation, Leffel attended Parsons School of Design and Fordham University and worked odd jobs in California and New York.  He enrolled in the Art Students League in New York, and eventually taught there for 20 years.

In the 1970s, he took illustration jobs to make money and, having returned full time to his own painting, moved in 1992 to Taos, New Mexico with his partner, Sherrie Mc Graw, also an artist.  They have a home "with a stunning view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains" (Van Cleve) and have added large studios for each of them.  Leffel regards his studio as his sanctuary, a quiet, uncluttered and joyful place.  While painting in the daytime, he often plays classical music, and as evening approaches switches to blues

He conducts workshops throughout the country including Fredericksburg, Texas and Scottsdale, Arizona, and has written two books: An Artist Teaches and Self-Portraits: A Visual Journey of Insight.

Sources:
Nancy Gillespie, "A Rational Pursuit", Art of the West, July 2004, p. 30
Emily Van Cleve, "The Studio", Art of the West, pp. 32-34

Biography from Nedra Matteucci Galleries:
Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1931, David Leffel nurtured his artistic sensibility at a young age by engaging in drawing competitions with his friends.  He later attended Parson's School of Design, which led to employment in advertising.  Leffel, however, began his journey as a fine artist at the age of twenty-nine.

While sharing an apartment with two friends from the Julliard School of Music, Leffel was exposed to art that was not business-oriented.  He quickly gave up advertising to pursue the career for which he is best known.  Up until that point, Leffel had been largely self-taught, but his new path prompted him to enroll in the Art Students League in 1959.  There he painted under the guidance of Frank Mason. By 1972, Leffel had become a teacher at the League, encouraging his students, as he does now, to abandon previous concepts about art.

For Leffel, each canvas offers a fresh challenge. He meets this challenge each time to create beautifully universes infused with soft light, hints of texture and wonderful detail.  Each Leffel, with its interplay of light and shadow, holds one's attention with a powerful presence.  In Leffel's words, "Talent is the ability to sweat, to work hard, and to produce something beautiful."

As both a painter and a teacher, Leffel has been extremely successful. In 1984 he collaborated with Linda Catewa, a former student, on the much-praised book Oil Painting Secrets from a Master (Watson/Guptill, 1995).  He has earned a considerable number of awards since 1963, including the Gold Medal for Oil from the National Academy of Western Art.  His works are held in numerous private collections as well as institutes such as the J.B. Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky, and Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey.

Biography from Whistle Pik Galleries:
David A. Leffel was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1931.  He was only four years old when he drew his father's hat.  After that first drawing, he and friends often competed to see who could draw the best comic book characters.

He enrolled in Parson's School of Design after high school where he studied advertising and design.  Following a series of jobs as a commercial artist he left the constraints of business and commercial art to pursue his own personal ideas.

In 1959-1960, Leffel studied at the Art Student's League in New York City. There he developed the chiaroscuro technique that has led to his frequent tribute as a "20th-century old master."  In 1972 Leffel returned to the Art Students League as an instructor.

Under the influence of the great 17th-century Dutch masters, especially Rembrandt, Leffel's work reflects a personal belief that a painting must convey a sense of mystery and beauty.  Throughout the interplay of light and shadow, through texture and shape and color, Leffel transforms the simple and ubiquitous objects of everyday life into rich creations of enigma and presence.

Although he concentrates much of his efforts on still lifes and portraits, since his move to New Mexico in 1992, Leffel has done more landscape paintings with strong skies, dark clouds, and a magnificent shaft of light.  For the self-described light and shadow painter, the canvas presents the challenge to create "beauty and simplicity through colors, textures, shapes, lights, and darks, as they are the tools of the artist. If he can see."


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