The Artist’s Secret That David Leffel Shared With Me

It’s no secret that David is one of the most renowned artists in the country. He has been one of my teachers and mentors. He’s so generous and passes on so much of his knowledge to artists. I was at a workshop with him and I was talking to him about how many bad paintings I had done and even sold. I told him how embarrassed I was about these flawed paintings. He looked at me and said, “You have to step over your dead paintings.”

An original oil painting of a still life titled Sweet Peach Roses by Kelli Folsom

If you’ve ever spoken to David you probably know that he tends to speak in riddles or zen koans. But basically, he was saying: 1. There’s no way around making the flawed paintings and 2. Let them go and move forward.

I figured if this incredibly talented artist advised this then I must listen because look at his work! Ever since then I’ve accepted my paintings for what they are. I’ve completed them as best as I could with what I knew at the time and I marched forward getting as much brush mileage under my belt as possible.

But look, it’s not just about working more or harder. Perhaps, more importantly, it’s about working smarter. The 2 things that hold most people back is: 1. They can’t move forward with the flaws and give up too soon and 2. They don’t work smarter.

I’ve been able to do both and that’s why my paintings are where they’re at. The same can be true for YOU. This is what I aim to pass on to my students of all levels in VITAL Art Sessions.

The program allows you to paint more paintings faster and better. I also show you week after week my structured method of approach that I use for every painting! The same fundamental principles get repeated, yet never boring because every composition is something different!

The lessons are kept short (30 minutes) so that you can retain the information and apply it better too. Students get ongoing feedback from me in the private group in addition to monthly Q&A sessions and a group critique on independent work.

Enrollment is open this week and closes on July 6th. So, if you’re ready to grow click here to learn more and sign up!

A photo of an original oil painting on panel of a still life painting of white peonies on an antique Japanese lacquered trunk
White Peonies on a Japanese Box, 18″x14″
A photo of an original oil painting on panel of a floral still life of lilacs in a glass vase with a white teacup.
Spring Lilacs and Tea, 14″x18″

Love in Light, Kelli

7 thoughts on “The Artist’s Secret That David Leffel Shared With Me

  1. Wonderful Anita! I’m so happy it helped. Letting go is a huge part of our happiness and success.

  2. I tend to feel that I have to redo each one until perfect for me. However I can’t move on that way. So I wait a day and think maybe it’s not really that bad. I may scrape a little off think about how the painting helped with what I learned and then move on. Don’t stress.

  3. Haha! Yes. I have to bury mine!
    And that is good. Looking back over the last few years of painting I cringe at what I have done.. but I’ve learned why I cringe now.
    Onward! Thank You Kelli.

  4. I like how you put it about the bad paintings, “ Let them go and move forward”. That is so important because we all struggle and sometimes get stuck thinking we can’t paint. I love to keep trying and learning. Thank you Kelli for all your lessons and help. 💗

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