Fred Lebow — runner, innovator, ladies man, founder of the New York City Marathon. Growing up on Long Island, I watched this race each year, dreaming of one day winning it myself. Alas, it was never meant to be, but my connection to running still runs deep.
Over the past few months, I discussed the possibility of creating a running-related portrait with friend and NYRR employee John Honerkamp. After much discussion and thought, Fred Lebow and Grete Waitz kept rising to the top — in the end, it was Lebow.
I’ll outline everything below, but here is the entire painting process in just over one minute…
The New York Road Runners were kind enough to share a handful of pictures, and this was the instant favorite.
Beginning with a base collage… All five boroughs are represented, as well as a shout to the spectacular Grete Waitz.
With the background laid out, twas time to get down to the face.
I started with Fred’s signature painters cap, and immediately attacked a set of highlights and shadows.
All of the colors were mixed from blue and orange, I wanted the painting to feel warm, and ultimately take on the quality of standing in the mid-day sun.
Using this tone of blue and orange complements creates a visual reverberation.
Now the face is making sense… always satisfying. Up to this point, the painting was made in Myrtle Beach… the rest took place in my NYC studio.
Here I began to reconstruct the secondary tones, as they were off slightly — the orange-red was too dominant.
Balancing things out… focusing on the picture plane as a whole.
Up to the roof for clarity…. I painted the jacket, but disliked the way it felt, and decided to go for a flat blue.
Getting close, but I needed one final bright orange to bring the picture to a conclusion.
And completed — Fred Lebow. This piece will be part of an exciting story coming out in the near future, stay tuned. I’d like to thank the New York Road Runners, John Honerkamp, Stuart Calderwood, Dunkin Larkin and Jillian Babcock.
Take a look at this trailer for the Fred Lebow Movie “Run For Your Life”… He was a truly enigmatic character.