Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Visit with Leslie B. DeMille

Leslie B. DeMille and a quick pastel demonstration he gave me.
(It's not a portrait, but an illustration of a particular technique he uses.)

DeMille's taboret.

I recently had the opportunity to visit and interview master portraitist Leslie B. DeMille. It's rare that I actually get to visit an artist of that caliber. I do most of my interviews for The Pastel Journal and The Artist's Magazine by telephone and e-mail. Since I tend to live in remote places, interviewing in this way works well for me. But I always prefer a face-to-face interview, when I can get one. There's real magic in making the personal connection.

Of course, Sedona isn't as remote as Tierra del Fuego. We're only two hours from Phoenix. But, it's a detour off the Interstate, and it has a population of only 12,000. Although there are plenty of good artists here, several of which have national reputations, I thought I knew the names of all of them. So imagine my surprise when an artist friend visiting from Georgia mentioned she had just come from a visit with DeMille down the road. He lives about 8 miles away as the crow flies. (It's more like 20 miles when you have to drive around Oak Creek to get there.)

At 83 years young, he is an inspiration to me. When I called him to set up an interview, he was on the golf course. When I went out to visit, he was preparing for a trip first to California and then to Ontario, Canada - all to be followed by a trip to England to gather reference material for a commission. No grass grows under his feet!

DeMille been doing portraits for 60 years, and he has done thousands. Known at the "Artist of Champions," he's painted commissions of sports greats such as Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus and also heads of state such as Ronald Reagan. I'm glad to have met him. You can meet him, too, in my interview with him in The Pastel Journal next spring. (Scheduled for the May issue.)


Michelle Wegler said...

Isn't Les a blast? More energy than some half his age! He gave a portrait class in Minneapolis that I attended. I think it's amazing how few sticks he uses.
I enjoy your blog and magazine articles.

Celeste Bergin said...

I'll be watching for your interview!

Nancy Asbell Arts said...

Thanks for shaering!