Interview with Dave Lebow “Prime Time”
Showing with Mikal Winn – A Desert Home Companion
May 6 – 29, 2016
Opening reception: Friday, May 6th, 8-11 PM
La Luz de Jesus Gallery
4633 Hollywood Blvd,
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Dave Lebow is a representational painter and illustrator. He has created illustrations and animations for the entertainment industry including Showtime’s Dexter, The Food Network’s The Secret Life Of… and illustrations for Paramount Television’s Medium, ABC’s October Road and the History Channel’s Strange Rituals. He was awarded in the California Open Juried Exhibition for his painting “Mad Love” and he recently completed a portrait commission for Tanya Haden and Jack Black.
Lebow is an educator, instructor, and life drawing teacher at California Institute Of The Arts. He lives with his wife, daughter and two cats in Venice, CA.
This interview was conducted in April of 2016 as Lebow was preparing his new show, Prime Time.
What have you been up to since your last show (Weird Tales Feb 2013 at La Luz de Jesus )
I have been busy trying to make better compositions and working to improve my painting technique.
How is this show different from your last exhibition?
I tried to make some of the new pictures have an otherworldly or uncanny feeling.
Briefly outline your process when creating a piece, from idea to execution.
These days I write down any ideas that come to me when I’m walking, exercising , daydreaming , grocery shopping or meditating. I then take the most interesting of these and draw small compositional thumbnails , lots of them, exploring my ideas in pencil. Only after the little thumbnails are interesting do I then go researching props, locations and find models to realize the vision in the sketch.
Has being an art teacher had any effect on your own creations?
Teaching has forced me to become clearer with myself in how I work so I can impart that knowledge to young painters. It’s really amazing how much I’ve learned teaching drawing from the figure and painting portraits from the live model. I get the opportunity to practice and paint in class in between my walking around and critiquing the students. It’s made my work stronger.
I studied with some fantastic artists when I was young and realism was totally vilified and even ridiculed in much of the media, this was in the early 1970’s. Back then I studied with Burton Silverman at his home studio and some painters teaching at the Art Students League in Manhattan, like David Leffel and Robert Brackman. After my studies in New York, I spent a number of years painting just still life and figure studies in Oklahoma and New Mexico. Later I moved to Los Angeles and went into animation, then in 2009, when I returned to painting full time, I refreshed my skills by studying with Ignat Ignatov and the incredibly skilled painter the late Glen Orbik, and his wife Laurel Blechman. I also studied the last few years with Greg Manchess and have been influenced by his direct painterly approach. There are many other contemporary realist painters who I find are very inspirational, and James Gurney’s books and blog have helped my imaginative work a lot.
What do you feel is the most valuable advice to impart to your students
That it is important to get a handle on one’s craft first when learning to paint. Paint a still-life or a portrait from life, alla prima and get good at that before attempting a large storytelling composition. The analogy I give my students that I teach up at Cal Arts in my portrait painting class is; a composer composing for a symphony has to write for all the musicians in the orchestra, but the painter has to paint all the parts as well as creating the composition and story, so being in shape in terms of technique by painting and drawing from the model from life as much as possible really helps to stay in shape art wise.