Robert Leedy, captivating watercolorist, and Enzo Torcolleti, Italian sculptor, will be featured as inaugural artists at Unity Plaza’s long-time Art Annex, RS&H. RS&H’s Florida location is at 10748 Deerwood Park Boulevard South, Jacksonville.
Robert Leedy was born in Winter Haven, Florida on October 17, 1956. Leedy grew up in Jacksonville, Florida and exhibited a promising, early talent in drawing and painting. He later studied art at Valdosta State University where he earned a BFA in Art in 1979. Leedy developed a love for the medium of watercolor and an early, personal style emerged. Upon graduating, Leedy worked in Jacksonville as a graphic designer before entering a 12-year career in the fine wine business. Leedy followed his career to a wine position in the Virgin Islands where he later met his future wife, Vicky. Not long after the couple married, Vicky accepted a new position with her company in Europe. Robert left his job in the wine business and began painting full time. The couple began a series of moves that led them throughout Europe, South America and the Caribbean. Robert & Vicky now reside in Jacksonville and after 20 years of being away, Robert is thrilled to be back in Jacksonville.
Robert Leedy has exhibited his work throughout the US and Puerto Rico and has past affiliations with Asociación de Acuarelistas de Puerto Rico, The Indiana Plein Air Painters Association and The Colorado Watercolor Society. Leedy is currently a member of The National Watercolor Society and The Georgia Watercolor Society.
Robert Leedy’s work is represented at Southlight Gallery and at his working studio in the CoRK Arts District – all in the Jacksonville, Florida area.
Visit Robert on the web at http://www.robertleedyart.com/#home
An interview with Robert & JJ
How did you come up with ideas for your art?
My paintings usually have a relation to nature in some form. A walk on the beach or through the woods will provoke internal reflection that usually stirs up ideas for paintings. The physical surroundings might also provide me with ideas for images.
Many of my ideas will simmer on my internal back burner for quite some time. Something might visually catch my interest and I may pass by a scene multiple times thinking, this will make a good painting. With each sequential pass, ideas will collect and steep. Then one day a painting will begin. As I initiate the process, more ideas will flow and the need for editing comes in. Learning what to hold onto – and discard – is the key.
How did you make it? (physical and mental process)
I have two basic modes of work: studio and plein air. My studio paintings are usually more detailed as a result of relatively comfortable working conditions and occasional use of photography in the process. My plein air work, on the other hand, is more spontaneous and immediate; I’m out in the elements and there is a raw and sometimes more emotional response. You can definitely see the difference. I don’t really have a preference between the two and neither dominates my time over the other. But I will say that painting outdoors on a beautiful spring morning is a very satisfying part of my life.
For me, there is a real Zen thing happening when my brush loaded with watercolor pigment comes into contact with a fresh sheet of watercolor paper. It’s a very nice feeling.
And there is a flip side to this that I embrace: Technology. I use an iPad to photograph scenes, still life arrangements, figures, or anything that might inspire me. I use the iPad as a viewfinder and look for interesting compositions. I go on photo walks which are inspirational in themselves. Back in the studio, I can zoom in on objects using my iPad and get a look at things in a new perspective. Enlarging images to an extreme can create very abstract imagery. It also helps seeing colors and shapes in detail that you might not normally notice on your own.
Many of my paintings can be quite a struggle initially and often go through ugly duckling stages; when I was younger, I would tear them up and move on; as I matured, I learned to hang in there, have faith, and work through them. These are the best paintings I create.
What do you see as the strengths of your art, visually or conceptually?
My response to light is quite evident in my work. I think that is a big factor in what draws people to it. Light & color are common denominators in my paintings. I also like to let the medium of watercolor shine – I push the transparency, glazing or multiple layers and I allow the colors to mingle. I like the effect of granulating colors and I allow my colors to mix on the paper as opposed to mixing in the palette. I never completely know how a painting will end up – I enjoy the discovery process and quirky nature of the medium and give it room to lead the direction of the painting to some extent. Keeping it spontaneous and open for forks in the road; I am the chaperone, I guess one could say…
What is the best comment you have ever heard from a patron and/or viewer of your artwork?
People frequently tell me my work makes them happy. I don’t always take this well. I mean, isn’t that what they say about Yanni’s music?
Someone once posted a Florida watercolor by John Singer Sargent on Facebook; a good artist friend of mine saw it and told me she thought, oh look, a new watercolor by Robert Leedy. She realized her mistake and told me about it. What could be a better compliment? That made my day.
I think more importantly, when my students tell me they are inspired while watching me paint or that they are stoked by a lesson – or feel better about their work as a result of my teaching – now that, is the best thing that can be said about one’s work.
What artist or artists – art historic or contemporary – inspire you the most?
I think most watercolorists will have John Singer Sargent and Winslow Homer on top of their list of influential artists. I would add, Charles Burchfield, Charles Demuth, Maurice Prendergast, Childe Hassam, Henri Edmond Cross, and John Marin. Fairfield Porter’s paintings remind me of a sunny, summer day. I also like Georgia O’Keefe’s bold & free color, Edward Hopper’s response to architecture in watercolor and Paul Klee’s experiments with rhythmic color. I’m always drawn to Richard Diebenkorn’s sense of design & composition applied to abstract painting. Joaquin Sorolla is an absolute master painter with a wonderful eye for light.
For contemporary watercolorists, I like the work of David Dewey, Charles Reid, Nicholas Simmons, Shirley Trevena and Lucy Willis. Of course, my architect father is a big inspiration for his enthusiasm and dedication to his art, his commitment to quality and integrity in his work along with his love of aesthetics and life itself. There’s not a brighter source of inspiration on my list.
Enzo will be the inaugural sculptor to be shown in the first outdoor sculpture collection at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens when their outdoor sculpture garden is completed and reveled this Fall. Check out this interview with Enzo by Luc van der Poel…
Interview on Lighting with Italian sculpture Enzo Torcoletti
by Luc van der Poel
When illuminating an art work, it is crucial that it benefits the exhibit to the best advantage and at the same time takes care that the conservation of the piece is ensured.
Enzo Torcoletti is an innovative sculptor with traditional ethics of workmanship. He creates vibrant sculptures in stone, wood and other materials, completing each step of the process himself – from the design sketches to the finished casting. Because Enzo is involved in the entire sculpture sequence from conception to exhibition, the finished piece is truly his creation.
E-Luminous met with Enzo in Italy to talk about his work and the role lighting plays in it.
Lighting is known to play a vital role in the matching process between art and observer; it can help to emphasize the unique identity of an art work. What role does lighting play in your work?
Especially in the case of sculptures the lighting is key. It can be used to reveal the three dimensions of an object by visualizing the form, material and texture of it through the appearance of light, shadow and glance patterns. It brings drama to the scene.
Most of my work is created under daylight. Bright sunlight will give hard shadows and the changing direction of the sunlight will take care of a constantly changing appearance. Under a cloudy sky the sculpture will become more “flat” but details will be more visible.
At night time or in indoor situations artificial light will have to do this job. With artificial light, it is also possible to create a different appearance of the sculpture as it allows to play with the modeling caused by the interaction between the observer, the sculpture itself and the lighting. Creating the best scene by balancing various spots is really as if painting with light. In outdoor situations, I mostly use ground spots to bring illumination to the sculpture from below and give it a completely different scene.
Does it matter to you that a sculpture will look completely different under artificial light depending on the direction of the light towards the sculpture?
No I have no problem with this. I love the possibility to create a “different” sculpture with the help of spots. Especially at night, I can play with light and dark. In these situations shadows are as important as light. One can get a visible touch by the eyes by looking at the shadows. One should never light a sculpture from all sides; only use light from two sides to bring out the form optimally.
With the upcoming of LED lighting, it can be easier to apply coloured lighting as well. Do you use coloured lighting in your work?
I love to play with spots which have a different colour. It is nice to use two light colours and create a scene with them.
What is the most important issue when you illuminate a sculpture?
The most important issue is to assure that the visual conditions are pleasing and free from distraction so that all the attention is concentrated on the sculpture. That’s why the positioning of spots is of importance. People should not be blinded by the spots. When the sculpture can be seen from different positions the job becomes even more challenging. It’s important to pay extra attention and avoid disturbing glare.
The second issue to be taken into account is the position of the observer. This is essential in the description of modeling, because his or her position and direction of view determine which part of the object is visible.
What other worries do you have when working with light?
Proportion is my main worry. When trees are planted next to a building it is of upmost importance that one knows the size of the trees over time to avoid that they will have to be cut when they become bigger and beautiful. Also, sculptures should be balanced with the environment and in line with this, the lighting should be in proportion to the size of the sculpture.
When a piece of your work is placed somewhere, how you do deal with the lighting installation at hand?
As a sculptor I like to be involved in the lighting as well. This is not always easy when other parties are involved which have their own ideas about how to fill in the lighting. But lighting is of upmost importance for my work.
Enzo Torcoletti was born in Italy and attended art school there before he moved to Canada where he received a B.A. in English Literature and a B.F.A. in Sculpture and Printmaking from the University of Windsor in 1969. In 1971, he completed his M.F.A. in Sculpture from Florida State University. That same year he moved to St. Augustine, Florida, where he still resides. He maintains sculpture studios in St. Augustine and in Italy.
Website Enzo Torcoletti: www.moultriecreek.com