Painting Process

Painting Process Fred Lebow Portrait

Fred Lebow Portrait Painting by Borbay

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…

Fred Lebow NYRR Original Image

The New York Road Runners were kind enough to share a handful of pictures, and this was the instant favorite.

Fred Lebow NYRR Borbay Source Image

Before I began to paint, I modified the picture to capture both the NYRR and ING New York City Marathon colors. After the jump, my full process.

Fred Lebow Painting Process by Borbay

Beginning with a base collage… All five boroughs are represented, as well as a shout to the spectacular Grete Waitz.

Fred Lebow Painting Process by Borbay

With the background laid out, twas time to get down to the face.

Fred Lebow Painting Process by Borbay

I started with Fred’s signature painters cap, and immediately attacked a set of highlights and shadows.

Fred Lebow Painting Process by Borbay

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.

Fred Lebow Painting Process by Borbay

Using this tone of blue and orange complements creates a visual reverberation.

Fred Lebow Painting Process by Borbay

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.

Fred Lebow Painting Process by Borbay

Here I began to reconstruct the secondary tones, as they were off slightly — the orange-red was too dominant.

Fred Lebow Painting Process by Borbay

Balancing things out… focusing on the picture plane as a whole.

Fred Lebow Painting Process by Borbay

Up to the roof for clarity…. I painted the jacket, but disliked the way it felt, and decided to go for a flat blue.

Fred Lebow Painting Process by Borbay

Getting close, but I needed one final bright orange to bring the picture to a conclusion.

Fred Lebow Portrait Painting by Borbay

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.

This Painting is Available Click to Inquire

Take a look at this trailer for the Fred Lebow Movie “Run For Your Life”… He was a truly enigmatic character.

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