Meet the Artist: David Cheifetz

Meet the Artist: David Cheifetz

Melding realism and intense color with abstraction and soft atmosphere is a rare combination of abilities. David Cheifetz is one artist who can pull it off. I recently called him about coming to Northern Virginia to teach a workshop on this luscious approach to still life painting and handling edges.

If you are interested in the Northern Virginia workshop - drop me a line 
(contact info is on my website).

David is generous with his knowledge and we talked about everything from his most current work to advice for emerging artists. David has so many useful things to share that I'll need to do additional posts on his paintings in the future - but here are some important points of our conversation that I'm eager to share with you right away.

Q. Tell us about your most recent work.
A. "I just finished a painting called "Spool" that I'm pleased with. I love painting with bright color, but lately I've been experimenting with the concept that you can make "colorful" painting my restricting intense color to small areas. It's the contrast with the surrounding neutral tones that makes the painting seem colorful. One of the main problems that took some time to solve was deciding how to push back the pitcher. I love to make my darks as dark as possible and my lights as light as possible, so it took some concerted effort to restrain that instinct in the pitcher. This allowed the spool to pop out and dominate a bit more. I had fun with the loose edge-work in the pitcher and onion, which hopefully allows the eye to focus on the harder edges of the red glass, tube of paint, and the wire spool."

The artist also explained that he originally wasn't that interested in still life until his teacher introduced him to the work of Leffel. "That's when I realized the potential of still life". David became fascinated with Edges and that fascination shows up in his current work. "I like the idea of chaos contrasted with sharpness" to establish a strong focal point. While David explained the way he also uses contrast and color to create a focal point, he emphasizes that "edges and composition are kind of the final frontier for a painter because there are no rules ... there are guidelines but no one can really tell you exactly how to do it ... so the possibilities are limitless. Edges have so much potential to make or break a painting. It's really exhilarating to keep experimenting with them."

It's clear that that David sums things up beautifully and without ceremony which would be an obvious asset to his students. If you live in the Francisco bay area, visit his website for more info about the upcoming class in his studio. He has limited the class to a small group which will focus on direct "Alla Prima" painting because starts are so important to the quality of an artist's work. Not surprisingly that class is almost full.

In addition to technique, David shared some tips for emerging artists.

Q. What is the most important thing you've learned and would like to pass along to others?
  • Just begin things that are important to you, don't put them off. Thinking about beginning is the hardest part....once you start, it's not so bad.
  • Sit down and do the work, even if you don't feel like it. Inspiration will come AFTER you start working.
  • Be a student of art forever, willing to purge ego and keep learning. I think talent is mostly the will to learn.
  • Don't be precious with your art, take chances. The worst thing that could happen is a bad painting--you can always make another one. Wipe out bad paintings, it's good for your health.
  • Read "The War of Art" by Stephen Pressfield. In my opinion, this is the most important book about how to be an artist. (This book is a fast, fun read)

Q. What do you think are some of the most exciting things happening in the art world today?
A. "It's exciting that students interested in pursuing careers in illustration and concept art are seeing the value in classical/representational training. I think many universities will (hopefully) begin to abandon the practice of using theory talk as the basis of art education and will embrace skill-based and classical training. It's great that there are more and more ateliers offering training at the fraction of the cost of an art school. I think aspiring artists are recognizing that the content of a portfolio is much more valuable than a certifiable degree. To make a living as an artist is challenging enough without the huge loan debts that could be incurred at an art school."

David is an example of the way art education is changing now that so many options are at the fingertips of emerging artists today. He found Schuler through the atelier search page on the Art Renewal Center website. Add google searches, blog posts like this one about artistic influences, and various other ways to find out what's going on all over the world and it appears that we have a new reality emerging.

I keep an eye on artists like David to see where this exciting explosion of skill is headed.

Readers can look forward to other upcoming articles about David (specifically his cityscapes) and other artists  ... but first ... watch for a post in January featuring an illuminating conversation with Terry Strickland.

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