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WetCanvasBookReview:Leffel/Cateura,OilPaintingSecrets

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BookReview:Leffel/Cateura,OilPaintingSecrets
(http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=486311)

soap

0326200812:57AM

BookReview:Leffel/Cateura,OilPaintingSecrets

SomepeoplehereaskedmewhatIthoughtofCateura'sbookwhichIpurchasedrecently.Herearemy
thoughtsandashortoverviewofwhatthebookisabout.ItriedtowritewhatIwouldhavewantedto
knowbeforebuyingit.Ihopeitcanhelpsomeofyoudecideofbuyingitornot.
Iamarelativenewbietooilpaintingbuthavebeenpaintingportraitsinpastelforyears(although
neverhadtheluxuryofdoingitfulltimeitremainedahobbyorparttimeoccupation).
Herewego:
Title:
OilPaintingSecrestsfromaMaster
Prominentartist/teacherDavidA.Leffelshareshissecretsformakingprofessionalquality
paintings
Author:
LindaCateura
Published:
WatsonGuptillPublications,NewYork,1995.
144pageswithcolourreproductions.
ThisbookisacollectionofwisephrasesandgeneraladvicecollectedbyCateurawhileshewasstudying
withLeffel.Thebookisorderedintodifferentsubjectswhichwilltakeyoudeeperintothepainting
process.Itisfilledwithblack&whiteandfullcolourreproductionsofLeffelswork.Somereproductions
areparticularlyfuzzyandoutoffocus(!),butmanyarebeautifulandusefulinthebook.Ihavebeen
readingthe1995paperbackedition.
PartOneisaboutthemainconceptsneededbeforeyoustartpainting.Theyaregeneralandalmost
abstractnotionsofseeinglikeanartist(Itsnothowtopaintwhatyousee,buthowtoseewhatyou
paint.p.16)andthenotionofaConcept.Thislatterideaisthebackboneofeverypainting,soit
seems,andeverypaintingshouldstartwiththeartistthinkingaboutwhatheisgoingtopaint.Every
greatpaintingcanbedefinedasapicturewithoneessentialvisualidea.Itiswhattheentirepaintingis
about(p.18).Onceyouknowthis,theconceptwillsolveallproblemsoflight,space,value,edges
etc.Themostimportantthingistothinkaboutit(p.20).
Cateurathengoesonwithsomeexamples(ofLeffelsworkofcourse)ofdifferentconceptsinpaintings
(color,light,edges)andhowtheyweremadetowork.
InparttwoCateurawritesaboutthepaintingprocessanddelvesintothemorepracticalmattersof
palettechoice,canvas,brushstroketechniques,chiaroscuro(lightanddark)andgoesonwithsome
examplesofhowtopaint,massing,andplanes.Mostofthisisformedintoonelinersandshort
advisorynotes.Thinkintermsofplanes,mass,dimension,ratherthanlineandshading.Theonlyway
tostartisbycreatingamass.(p.46)
PartthreeistitledBasicAdviceandcoversthesubjectsoflightandshadow,values,edges,color,and
thengoesontogivesomegeneraladviceonhowtopaintstilllives,portraitsandbackgrounds.Again,
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WetCanvasBookReview:Leffel/Cateura,OilPaintingSecrets

mostofthesechaptersaremadeupoutofonelinerswhichareeasytoreadandeasytoremember.
Somepointsaremoreobviousthanothers(dependingonthereaderslevelofadvancementperhaps).
Examples:Thecentreofinterestisalwaysinthelight(p.60).Dotheshadowandletitgo.Donttry
todoanymodelingintheshadow.Describingformisnotafunctionofshadow(p.66).Lightisthe
melody.Itmoves,itrisesandfallsinintensity(p.66).Decideonyourvaluesforthefinishedpainting
early.Coloriseasy,valueisdifficult(p.68).Warmcolorsadvanceandcoolcolorsrecede.Thehuman
eyeexpressesanaturalpreferenceforyellow,red,orangeitseesgray,blue,greenonlyperipherally
(p.74).
Inpartfourofthebookaresomegeneralobservationsonpaintingandattitudesthatcanholdyouback
asanartist.Againtheshort,listedadvisorynotesvaryfromstatingtheobvioustoreallypractical
adviceandontomoredeepercommentsonthemeaningofart.
Thelastlinesofthebookarewisethoughalittlelongwinded:Talentisthewillingnesstofigureitout.
Itsnotamysticalormetaphysicalthing.Itstheabilitytorelinquishallyourassumptionsandconceits
inordertolearn(p.139).Inotherwords,talentisthewillingnesstolearnandhaveanopenmind.At
thesametimehowver,youhavetounderstand,learningtopaintrequiresactiveparticipation(p.130)
andacquiringinformationisnotlearning.Whenastudenthasaninsightitrarely,ifever,hastodowith
acquiringmoretechnique.Ithastodowithseeingclearly(p.128).Inotherwords:yousimplyhave
topaintanawfullotinordertolearnanddevelopyourtalent.
Thebookisstillwidelyavailableintheshopsandisveryaffordable.Asafairlyexperiencedpainter,but
arelativelynewbietooils,Ifounditwonderfultoread.Itsometimesstatestheobvious,butthatonly
helpstoconfirmwhatyoualready(thinkyou)know.Otherthingsaregreattoseeputintowords,
sometimesyoumighthaveusedthetechniqueforageswithoutrealisingit.Ithelpstolearntoseewhat
youredoing.Thebookhelpstobreakdownthedifferentpartsofapaintingandidentifyingthemcan
helpmakingapicturework(better).Itcertainlyhelpedmemakechoicesinmypaintingswhenitcomes
toedges,coloretc.Butitisimportantnottakeeverythingassacredtruthasitseemsthat
Cateura/Leffelaresometimesstatingideasthatnotnecessarilyrepresenttheonlywayofpaintinggood
pictures.Throughoutthebookthereisanoticeableabsenceofdrawing.Ofcoursethisbookisabout
paintingandnotdrawingbutmanyartistswillseedrawingasabackboneofgoodpainting.
InanarticleinTheArtistsMagazine(June2006)Leffeldoesratedrawingasimportantandadmitshe
doesntpracticeitenough.ItisashamethathethoughtitnecessarytocritizicefellowartistDavid
Hockneyinthisinterview,sayinghecantdraw,andhecantpainteither(p.39).Icanimaginethatif
studentsfollowtheideasinthebooktoocloselywellhavealotofLeffelfollowerswithaLeffelpainting
style.Thebookmustworkbestifyoupickandchoosefromitwhatworksforyouandignorewhat
doesnt.Leffeldislikespaintingfromphotographs(andheagreeswithmanyartistshere)andstatesin
TheArtistsMagazinethatyoulosetouchwithallreality(p.39).Consideringmany,many
contemporaryartistsusephotographs,computersandsuchfortheirartitseemsatinytouch
judgmentaltostatesuchthingsbutIwillputitdowntohimbeingpartoftheoldschoolandIfindhim
anexcellentmessengerandinstructorforitstechniqueandphilosophy.
Abookworthbuying:definitelyforoilpainters.Perhapsforotherstoo.Certainlyconsideringthe
affordableprice.
Ihopethisreviewwasusefultosomeofyou.
Soap
(PS.IwasfirstintroducedtoLeffel'sworkbyaninterviewinInternationalArtistMagazinesomeyears
ago.I'llseeifIcanfindthearticleandperhapsthereissomethingworthwileintherethatcanbeadded
tothisreview/thread)

billmahler

0326200810:05AM

Re:BookReview:Leffel/Cateura,OilPaintingSecrets

Soap
Wonderfulreview!
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WetCanvasBookReview:Leffel/Cateura,OilPaintingSecrets

Ihavethisbookinahandyplaceandpickitupandbrowseitnowandthen.
I'mstillstrugglingwithideaofa"concept"tho.Saying"thelightmovesfromlefttoright"doesn'tseem
tobeenoughformeasaconceptualapproachtoapainting.
IthinkI'mmissingsomethingobvious..itcertainlywouldn'tbethefirsttimeIdidthat.

IanRobertMcKown

0326200811:03AM

Re:BookReview:Leffel/Cateura,OilPaintingSecrets

Ihavethisbookaswell,andfoundittobeagreatread,especiallywhenyoumightbealittlestuckon
aparticularpiece.Asforthereview,Ifoundittobehelpful,butwhenyouaddedthisattheend:
Quote:

InanarticleinTheArtistsMagazine(June2006)Leffeldoesratedrawingasimportantand
admitshedoesntpracticeitenough.Itisashamethathethoughtitnecessarytocritizice
fellowartistDavidHockneyinthisinterview,sayinghecantdraw,andhecantpainteither(p.
39).Icanimaginethatifstudentsfollowtheideasinthebooktoocloselywellhavealotof
LeffelfollowerswithaLeffelpaintingstyle.Thebookmustworkbestifyoupickandchoose
fromitwhatworksforyouandignorewhatdoesnt.Leffeldislikespaintingfromphotographs
(andheagreeswithmanyartistshere)andstatesinTheArtistsMagazinethatyoulosetouch
withallreality(p.39).Consideringmany,manycontemporaryartistsusephotographs,
computersandsuchfortheirartitseemsatinytouchjudgmentaltostatesuchthingsbutIwill
putitdowntohimbeingpartoftheoldschoolandIfindhimanexcellentmessengerand
instructorforitstechniqueandphilosophy.

Icouldn'thelpbutfeelthishadnothingtodowithhisbook,andwasalittlemoreofan"axetogrind"
personalstatement.You'requotingmaterialnotfoundinhisbook,andthereforemaybea"rantsforum"
wouldhavebeenabetterplacetoventyourfeelingsratherthanina"review"ofonesingularpieceof
work.

soap

0326200811:29AM

Re:BookReview:Leffel/Cateura,OilPaintingSecrets

Billmahlerthanks!Yes,theideaofa'concept'isabitabstractbutIdothink(andwhatdoIknow)itis
reallynotas'grand'asitappears.Whynottryandpaintapicture'aboutlight'or'aboutcolor'evenif
there'smoregoingon.Recognizingthatyouwanttopaintbeautifullight,forexample,willhelpin
solvingproblemsandkeepingyourfocus.Ithinktheword'concept'suggestsmuchgranderideasthan
whatLeffelisreallysaying.
Well,that'swhatIthoughtwhenreadingthebookthough....Imighthavegottenitallwrong.
IanRobertMcknown,Whoa!Nevermeanttocomeacrossasangryasyoumakemesound!AndIdonot
thinkIdid.Nopersonalaxes,Idon'tknowLeffelsohavenothingagainsthim!Ijustthoughtithelpful
togettoknowLeffelabitmoreandcompletethepictureaboutthismanandhisideas.HenceIwas
alsothinkingofdigginguptheInternationalArtistarticle.Inabookreviewonecanwritesomething
abouttheauthorandhisideas,right?No?Iwasquotingmaterialthatisindeednotinthisbook,butI
wasquotingLeffel.Ifthisreview(noquotes)wasnotforyoufine.WecandebateLeffel'sideas
anytimeofcourse.

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IanRobertMcKown

0326200811:33AM

Re:BookReview:Leffel/Cateura,OilPaintingSecrets

Ijustfoundthatlastbittobealittledisparaging.

soap

0326200811:36AM

Re:BookReview:Leffel/Cateura,OilPaintingSecrets

MaybeIshouldhaveleftitout.JustwantedtomakeamorecompletepictureaboutLeffel.
:o
:)

IanRobertMcKown

0326200811:44AM

Re:BookReview:Leffel/Cateura,OilPaintingSecrets

Iwouldsay,thatreviewingabooknotactuallywrittenbyLeffel(theyareacollectionofnotestakenby
Cateura),andincludingasmallsnippetofaninterviewwithLeffel,wouldinnowaygiveanyonea
"completepicture"ofhim.Ireallydon'twanttogetintomuchofadebateaboutthis.Iwouldsuggest
notonlygettingAnArtistTeaches,butalsosomeofhisvideos,andthenyoumightyourselfhavea
clearerunderstandingorhim,ifnotthe"complete"picture.
I'llbowoutofthisthread,adIdon'twanttodebatethisoverlymuch.
Happypainting

soap

0326200812:16PM

Re:BookReview:Leffel/Cateura,OilPaintingSecrets

Tomakethepicturealittlebitmorecomplete(butbynomeanscomplete)andtoaddtothe
understanding:
AninterviewwithLeffelappearedinInternationalArtistMagazineApril/May2004.Itwasmyfirst
introductiontoLeffelandIwasblownawaybythebeautyoftheimagesandthewordsstartedme
thinking:
"Therealmysteryofapaintingisinunderstandingtherelationships,suchasthecontrastofempty
spaceandfilledspaceaswellaslightandshadow"
and:"Onceyouunderstandwhatyouwanttoputonthecanvas,techniquenaturallyfollows","To
developartistically,youmustfirstlearnthewhysofpainting,nottechnique"(p.3637IntArtMag).
Hereisthecoverofthebook:

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Asamplepage:

AndtwoimagesofLeffel'spaintings,takenfromtheInternationalArtistMagazinearticle:

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WetCanvasBookReview:Leffel/Cateura,OilPaintingSecrets

PleaseaddyourideasonLeffel!

royc8

0326200803:37PM

Re:BookReview:Leffel/Cateura,OilPaintingSecrets

Soapthanksfortakingtimetodothisreview,Idon'tseeanythingwrongwiththelastparagraph,itis
youropinionjustasthereviewis.Pleasedon'tfeelyouhavetodefendit.Letemrant:)
Idoesseemaninterestingbook,I'llmaybegetitinthefuture.It'snicetogetaninsightintowhatit's
like,sothanksagain.
Roy)

lonestar

0326200803:51PM

Re:BookReview:Leffel/Cateura,OilPaintingSecrets

soap,thanksfortakingthetimetomakethispost.
dawn

billmahler

0327200810:16AM

Re:BookReview:Leffel/Cateura,OilPaintingSecrets

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WetCanvasBookReview:Leffel/Cateura,OilPaintingSecrets

Quote:

Whynottryandpaintapicture'aboutlight'or'aboutcolor'

Yes,that'swhatIgotfromittoo,butI'mremindedofthePeggyLeesongfromthe60's"Isthatall
thereis?"
Sometimes,Iguess,there'slesstothingsthanmeetstheeyeandthetrickistofindoutwhatthatless
is.

tweetie

0327200811:45AM

Re:BookReview:Leffel/Cateura,OilPaintingSecrets

CallingMr.Leffeloldschoolforpushingdrawingfromlifeseemsabitharsh.Thisisstillthewayartists
aretaughttoday.Takingafewquotesfromaninterviewcannotgiveevenapartialpictureofthisgreat
masterandseemstopainthiminanegativelight(punintended:cat:).Arethere"newschool"masters
thatpushdrawingfromphotos?:lol:

soap

0327200812:24PM

Re:BookReview:Leffel/Cateura,OilPaintingSecrets

Boy,IamnearlyregrettingwritingthatasweendupdiscussingmywordsinsteadofLeffel's/Cateura's.
Butno,thereareno'newschool'mastersthatpushdrawingfromphotosbutthereisa'newschool'(if
that'swhatyouwanttocallit)thataccepts,appreciatesanddevelopsworkingfromdigitalimagesetc.
Thatdoesn'tmean'they'donotappreciateworkingfromlifeforitsvalue.
HiBill....yes,Iknowwhatyoumean.Doesartneedtobeaboutmorethanthesesimple(well....notthat
simpleperhapstoexecuteLOL)conceptsandaboutmorephilosophicalthings?Ithinkthats
personal....formepersonallyapaintingaboutlightorcolourisplentytogetmyteeth(brush)
into....maybeIamabitshallow....LOL...)

soap

0327200801:17PM

Re:BookReview:Leffel/Cateura,OilPaintingSecrets

Idon'tthinkcallingsomeone'oldschool'isdisrespectful.Idonot'namecall'.
IthinkmyreviewshowsclearlythatIthoughtitisagreatbookandIhavehugeadmirationforLeffel's
work.Readit.Ineverintended(andthatwascleartoo)togiveatotallycompletepictureoftheman.
Read.
Wheneveryoureadareviewyoumightnotalwaysagreewiththeauthor.That'sthenatureofreviews.I
amgladIamnotyour'sista'.

billmahler

0327200802:59PM

Re:BookReview:Leffel/Cateura,OilPaintingSecrets

Quote:

Ialsofeltthatyourreviewlackedrespect.
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Therewasnolackofrespect.
Ifyouthinkyoucanwriteabetter,morerespectful,reviewthandoit.I'lllookforwardtoseeingit.
SOAPmadeanexcellentcontributiontotheforumbysummarizingthebookclearlyandsuccinctly.
SheclearlymarkedheropinionsaboutLeffelasheropinions.It'sagoodreviewer'sresponsibilityto
revealanypreconceptionsorbiasesaboutthetopic,andshediditthoroughlyandhonestly.
IadmireLeffelagreatdealandIdidn'tfindanythingshesaidtobedisrespectful.
Onthecontrary
Therearelotsofconflictingopinionsonwhatweshouldbepaintingandhowweshouldbepaintingit.
Beinganeloquentandleadingspokesmanforwhathethinks,henaturallyinvitescontraryviews.
Singlinghimoutasaleadingproponentisrespectfulofhisaccomplishments.
And,sigh,soonerorlater..weallbecome"oldschool!"
IsupposeRembrandtwouldbeconsidered"oldschool"sinceheneversawelectriclight.
IfIcouldpaintlikeLeffel,youcouldcallme"oldschool"alldaylong.
ThanksagainSOAP,respectfully.

AlltimesareGMT4.Thetimenowis08:48AM.

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