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LeRoy Neiman: The Passing of a Painter

August 15, 2012

One Painter I will Never forget after his passing in June of this year is LeRoy Neiman.  His Bright colored, pop paintings show  glamorous lifestyles, The gambling and girls of Vegas, and some of the worlds most well known athletes, and have graced both the boxes of Wheaties and the pages of playboy for years.  His painting tend to be made up of what seem like abstract colored shapes that just seem to form the frame work and needed details for the view to clearly define the subject.  I only really knew his work from Wheaties boxes, and I mean that in the way that, i had seen a wheaties box witha  painting instead of a photograph on the front, not that I new it was his.  I didn’t really get to know him or his work till 2004 when I graduated  from parsons.

My last year at parsons I had an open credit and took silk screen, to keep it short i loved it and excelled at it spending day after day in the lab and upon graduation had gotten to know the print teachers so well that one of them recommended me  to a print shop downtown.  The print shop was not normal though, they printed the lithographs for some of the most famous artist in NY.  After paying my dues there I was lucky  to get the chance to be mentored by the studio director.  He was training me to  hand paint and seperate all the colors in the painting to be put to press to create  the lithograph, basically  learning to legally forge a painting.  As I started this new position the first task I was given, Neiman’s painting “International Auction” (seen Below).

International Auction

The piece its self is about 30 x 40, and on the real painting each of those paintings is really a post card, but  this was my entrance in to the real NY arts.  We were lucky and were able to have the real painting in the studio  on loan to us from its owner.  I looked at that painting for 8 hours a day  for over two months  breaking it down  in to 42 separate colors, and tints and then working with the printers to make sure each layer was layed down  correctly.  After each edition of a print was done the studio director would go up town and show a print to Mr. Neiman and he would judge it and give any changes he wanted made so he was a perfect recreation of his work.  When I finished International Auction my boss took it up town and told me to stay behind since I was new  he thought it was better he present it this time.  When my boss came back that after noon it was all great news, for the first time in over a year the artist had no changes at all he said it was perfect he wouldn’t change a thing.  I couldn’t believe it, the printers had been razzing me the whole week betting with each other about how many correction colors it would need.  My boss told me he wanted to meet me next painting I do for him,and I feel fortunate enough to say I did a few of his prints and met him from that time on and I feel so fortunate for those experiences. as an artist its amazing to go to a swanky studio and be able to work directly for  some one that has what  your striving to get.  Every time I met him he was a very kind and fair man with a great mustache.  During the time I work on his painting I really learned how to paint and and also made me see how  you can use random shapes to build a more complete picture. below are some of the prints I had a hand in and will always remind me of the time at that studio and every thing I learned working with such amazing artist like LeRoy Neiman.

 

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