Friday, May 13, 2011

A Visit with Painter/Teacher Lee Englund

My high school art class in New Jersey played an influential role in my life. Mr. Sebes created an environment that was somewhat of a refuge during that challenging time for me as my best friend had been taken in a car/bike accident the first day of my junior year. Advanced trigonometry and differential equations were too abstract for the internal things going on in my life at that time. Art proved to be a healing diversion for me.

This past month at the Clyde-O-Thon event here in Duluth, I was introduced to Lee Englund, an art instructor who is doing some wonderful oil painting. His teaching career began in 1984 in the Duluth Elementary schools, and was followed by two decades at Denfeld High School beginning in 1988. Englund then went back to grad school to get his masters in fine art whereupon he was hired by Lake Superior College and now teaches 2 painting classes.

I was enjoyed watching him paint at the Clyde, and was also interested in getting him to share some of what he's learned from teaching art over the years.

EN: What do you consider your most significant achievements?
LE: Getting in to National competitions and winning several awards has been rewarding..but I think seeing my work and my passion for it grow over the years is the biggest reward. I feel lucky to have the passion that I have.

EN: Who have been your favorite artists over the course of your career?
LE: My influences are many... and they have changed over the years. Those who have stayed with me: Caravaggio, Monet , Zorn, Mary Cassatte , Whistler. Artists living and working today who influence me are. Clyde Aspevig for plein-air landscape Richard Schmid for his brush strokes, David Leffel(who I took a workshop with) and Danial Green for portrait.

EN: Who most influence you when you were young?
LE: I always was interested in art, but my junior high school art teacher Ron Kokal influenced me to become an art teacher.

EN: What are you currently working on?
LE: I am currently working on a series of figures and nudes... This summer I will be painting plein-air landscapes out west and southwest. I have more experience to draw on, and a larger view of art history. I have also learned much through teaching.

EN: In what ways has art changed since you started painting and teaching?
LE: There have been many changes since I started this life long endeavor. Mostly I see too much technology being used. Images being traced or tweaked on computers I feel that art should come from the heart… paint what you see... not what the camera sees.

EN: Any suggestions for emerging artists?
LE: My advice to emerging artists would be to paint from life... it is the way to learn to see, which is what painting really is... Paint often... it almost takes being compulsive to get good at painting representationally, and paint with passion.

EN: If you had it all to do over what would you do differently?
LE: If I had it all to do over again, I probably wouldn't change much except I would like to take back the time that I wasted… Life is short.

To see more work by Lee Robert Englund, be sure to visit,

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