First off thanks to everyone that has been visiting and keeping up with the ramblings here. As I work to streamline my online presence, the decision to move the blog over to my new website seemed to be a no brainer. There it can work well with the new portfolio entries,twitter and facebook feeds.
Head over and see what has been done!
Monday, July 21, 2014
Thanks to the incredibly talented folks at Sandbox Designs, my new website www.stevenleahy.com is just about up and running! During the process of supplying images and copy, I have found myself reflecting on how my career has guided itself despite my best efforts to screw it up. I would have been the last one to tell you that I would be painting grains of rice and razor blades. These things might be parlor tricks to some but the miniature work has hit such a deep and resounding chord with me. I can't help the need to paint small and now understand that it has always been in there waiting to bust out.
The painting 'Air and Steel' was a piece that would not allow me to ignore it. It really became a self portraits of sorts. Since the late 80's, the airbrush allowed me to bridge the gap between where my art was and where I really felt it was supposed to be. During the 90's, it was an unassuming razor blade painting that changed the way that I look at all of my art. Creating a painting now that featured the two was the natural next step.
'Air and Steel' began as a personal study and it was really meant to only make sense to me. What blew me away was when it began to appeal to others. Especially those outside of the airbrush community. I expected my peers in the airbrush world that were used to my miniature obsession to understand yet I wasn't prepared for the mainstream art world to take an extra look. This little painting ended up getting juried into the Cambridge Art Association's RED show.
With that unexpected surprise, I polished my shoes and went to the opening reception, not quite sure of how things were going to go. What I found was that the things that I was passionate about in my work, translated into that work. Others saw what was important to me. It was a solid painting first, tiny second.
Sunday, June 29, 2014
As I mentioned in my last blog, it was aviation art that helped me turn the corner. That was the work that was first noticed for me. When all that happened, I decided that I needed to push that love of aviation art. There are a few big juried shows for aviation art and it was there that I would need to get my work. The massive annual fly in at
is one of those shows. I faithfully entered every year and did pretty well. The
core of recognized aviation artists are a close knit group and I was the
definite outsider. Add to that, I used an airbrush which for a long time in
many traditional art circles had been deemed as some sort of cheat. Oshkosh Wisconsin
One goal that I had (as lofty as it seemed) was to have my work printed in Flying magazine. I sent several well constructed pleas but found little success. Over time my passion for painting planes was set aside for my passion for painting cars and we bring the story to the present.
The other day, I happened to find my name linked to an issue of Flying magazine back in 2001. Clicking the link, I found that in May of that year, they did a feature on some of the paintings from that year's show at
Oshkosh. Surprisingly, the painting 'Bath House' was on the top of that page.
Sometimes things get checked off the Bucket List without you even knowing!
Sunday, June 22, 2014
Sometimes I slow down and try to look in the mirror to take a bit of stock in this journey I have been lucky to be on. People often have memories triggered by pictures, songs and even smells. For me, I can add seeing my old artwork to that list of triggers. Looking at a piece of art that I have done in the past acts like a time machine of memories. In some cases, I can even remember the songs that were playing in the studio as I was working on them.
Hornet High and Roger Ball, Hornet have a lot of these memories for me. I did this pair of FA-18 hornet paintings in 1997. My head is still spinning with what was happening in my life back then. I had been graduated from college for six years without a whole lot of hope of having that degree earn a living, I was married and had two young children. It really was at a point where painting pictures for a living seemed like a selfish hobby. However, something happened to my work to reinforce the path that I knew I needed to be on. This pair of Hornet paintings were received very well. Better than I had really expected. Both were accepted into the EAA juried art exhibit in
led to my first articles in Airbrush Action and Airbrush Magazines as well as a
feature in Naval Aviation News. In addition, these two paintings became my
first limited edition prints. It was clear that I needed to continue pushing.
|Roger Ball, Hornet|
Not only did these two paintings give me a boost of hope, they also brought me into contact with so many of the heroes that make this plane as incredible as it is. I was fortunate to meet pilots, ground crew, mechanics and even designers that made this plane live and breathe. They are memories that will live with me forever.
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
I am intoxicated with the creative process. There is something extraordinary when an idea takes on a life of its own and really dictates its own outcome. That was certainly the case for 'In the Club', the painting of a 1949 Cadillac.
This painting began life while I was visiting my friend John at his antique shop, The History Room. On the wall he had displayed a number of old license plates from various states and years. My first thought was how cool it would be to tie a vintage plate into a painting. That got my head spinning with thoughts of sanding and priming a square directly on the center of the plate for the painting. That idea immediately presented several challenges such as dealing with working on the uneven surface of the raised numbers. This idea also raised the concerns of altering an actual '49 plate. I settled on creating a painting that would sit above the plate rather than altering the vintage piece.
The painting itself usually dominates my thoughts in the early stages of the process however with this piece, I found myself wrestling with the manner in which it would be displayed. I knew that the work needed to be suspended above the plate without damaging it. The solution came in attaching the painting to a pane of glass in the middle of the frame. The pane would be invisible and not touch the plate at all. This brought me to my friend and master woodworker Larry Rancourt of Larry's Custom Woodworking to figure out the details of this very unique frame. I described to Larry what I was trying to achieve and he immediately took the ball and ran with it. The choice of the framing wood always goes hand in hand with the painting. Knowing it would be a vintage American car as the topic, we ended up deciding on Mahogany with an inlay of Maple.
Now that the frame was under way, it was time to turn the focus on the painting itself. This was the first time that the frame construction was put before the painting itself. I had a 1949
Massachusetts plate so I needed to find a
great car to go with that plate. It didn't take long to settle on the
incredible 1949 Cadillac Club Coupe. The image for this painting came from John
Filiss of Serious Wheels.com. It was the perfect image in that it showed all
the beauty of the car and prominently displayed it's rear plate which I wanted
to replace with my MA plate. From there it was business as usual getting the
Once the painting was finished, it was installed in the frame. One modification that was made was that the glass that the painting was mounted on needed to be tinted. The plate was visually very powerful and needed to be muted to separate it from the painting. The skill of Diamonds Window Tinting got the pane of glass perfectly tinted.
The result of all this was a painting that literally instructed me the entire way through the process. It is without a doubt where the most successful pieces come from.
Saturday, May 10, 2014
I have a friend that writes the most incredible songs. The biggest reason I find them so incredible is that she has the ability (and courage) to write songs about the things that are not so bright and shiny in our lives. Her music forces us to look within ourselves at the place that gives us pain because she knows that facing it is the only way to overcome it.
It inspired me to make the same attempt with my work. To reach inside myself and tell a story with paint that my own voice did not have the courage to tell. '19 Seconds' is the painting that was the result. It is all about the pain and regret of not having the courage to make a connection that is really important. Regardless of the outcome of that connection, not having the courage to even try yields far more pain and regret.
I chose the old 1980's phone to represent my youth. It sits unconnected on a teak desk that we also had in the house as I was growing up. The frame of this painting is also solid teak to echo the painting.
Finally the title for this painting comes from the 2011 movie 'We Bought a Zoo'. In that movie, actor Matt Damon's character describes a philosophy that he lives by. The idea is that all he need is 20 seconds of courage with anything that needs to be done. He puts aside all doubts and fears for only twenty seconds when faced with a challenge. More times than not that is all the time that is required. Since this painting examines my lack of courage in similar situations, I named it 19 seconds. I wonder if I had only found the courage for a few seconds more how different my life might have been.
Sunday, April 13, 2014
There are so many incredible ways to get our voice heard these days. As artists, we work hard to make sure that it is the art that speaks the loudest yet it is always great to get the chance to offer the 'director's commentary' on a painting. To give the viewer of the work the background and inspiration that helped pull the piece into reality.
Over the past few years, I have found that social media has become an excellent way to keep my work and its progress in front of people that were interested in it. Where my website is my virtual gallery, Facebook became the visit to the studio for people. Facebook gives people a chance to follow along on a day to day basis with the painting process here. Everyone now has the chance to get involved with the work individually by leaving comments and asking questions. My blog and twitter accounts did not find their place as fast as the website and Facebook did however. It involved taking a step back and looking at the big picture at the strengths of each to help find their place.
This blog is now going to be the place to get that director's commentary on the paintings that I am producing. Eventually it will be the spot where you can come if you see a painting that strikes you and get an in depth description about how it came to be. This blog will also allow for comments and questions to get even more information on the works.
Finally the twitter account will be the place for instant updates and thoughts about the industry. Tweets will allow people to know when something new is happening on the easel. In the coming months there will be a special giveaways to help boost awareness of both this blog and of the twitter account.
On this Sunday morning though, I need to start pulling together the materials for the Twitter giveaway! Stay tuned for the details!!
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Easily one of my favorite commissioned paintings to date is the painting for American Anchor. The job parameters were wide open.All I was told was that it needed to be on a razor blade. Knowing that the company was based here in Massachusetts and specialized in installing anchor systems for high rise window washing gondolas, helped to bring things together quickly. The result was the was the
skyline with a widow washing squeegee wiping a path clear in the image.
After finishing this painting, I found that there was still a personal need to revisit the
skyline as a topic. It took some time but I eventually settled on a view of Boston from the
Longfellow bridge. I love this view of the city because it shows all of Back Bay including the Hatch Shell. I also decided to
show the scene during the fall season to really feature everything that New England has to offer.
The painting would be my fourth industrial landscape and while some techniques were already hashed out like the development of the water from 'Mors Ex Tennebris' and the breakdown of the buildings from 'Through Sabine's Eyes', I was still anxious to develop some of the shortcomings of those same techniques. For example, in the American Anchor painting of
I tried a scratching technique that was hopefully going to allow me to get some
very fine details. What I found was that the paint that I was using hand a
slightly rubbery surface tension. That caused it to pull larger amounts of
paint up rather than simply create thin lines. With 'Longfellow Fall' I was
able to take that and mix in a reworkable illustration paint with my normal
colors. This allowed me to incorporate the scratching technique successfully
this time around.
|Through Sabine's Eyes|
Each painting has to be a step forward. Even the smallest move forward compounds with the next making each painting better. There are mistakes and failures in every painting, it is what we take from those shortcomings that created the successes in future works.