I am very pleased and exited to bring you this interview with artist Lewis Barrett Lehrman, Painter of Dark™. If his name sounds familiar it’s because I’ve written about him and his work here before. (See Dabbling in the Dark Arts.)
Mr. Lehrman allowed me into his Haunted Studio (figuratively speaking), where we had a nice chat about his craft. He also gave me permission to use some of his graphics as illustrations here.
Your work is amazing and stunning. How long have you been creating it?
The Haunted Studio got its start around 1998, when I put a print of a haunted painting of mine on eBay. I was amazed at the response (and the bidding), and repeated the auction with similar results. And gradually I began to explore the genre with original paintings and prints. The Haunted Studio got its name around 2000, and it has continued ever since.
How many haunted house paintings have you created for others?
Something in excess of ninety… and counting!
How did you ever get the idea to turn people’s houses into such unique keepsakes like you create?
It was a natural progression from what I was doing, but I think the real impetus was an inquiry from an early collector of my spooky prints as to whether I’d paint her house as a haunted house. I took it on, and both of us were excited with the results.
What is it about Halloween that you like so much?
It’s the holiday (If I may call it a holiday) that’s focused on kids, and for that reason it’s the most fun. At least to me. When else can kids of all ages dress up in scary costumes, party, stay up late, go around glomming candy off one’s neighbors, and generally raise a ruckus without having someone call the cops.
Most of the other holidays we celebrate are based on religious observances (Christmas, Easter), memorials, or other serious commemorative occasions (like Columbus Day) that it’s hard to have fun with. St. Patricks Day is pretty much an adult thing. And, though we try to include the children in it, Valentine’s Day is too.
Very interesting perspective. I think you just answered for me what it is about Halloween I like so much too! (And, yes, I consider it a holiday!) But you also do original paintings. What do you base them on?
I’m always on the lookout for new painting ideas. My most recent painting, “The Final Guest,” was inspired by the way an artist, whose painting I saw in a gallery we had visited, had handled the light. Or I can come upon a great old Victorian pile of a house, and decide to haunt it. Or sometimes I just want to express a feeling about something. “Ghosts Of Black Mountain Farm” came from a personal meditation on the passing of time.
The Final Guest is absolutely enthralling. It’s one of the ones I included in my other post about your work, and is definitely one of my favorites. And something you said about Ghosts of Black Mountain Farm provides me a handy seque into this next question…Another neat thing you do is give stories to your paintings. (Because in addition to painting you also write, for those may not know.) Do you only concoct stories for your original paintings, or for all paintings you do? And when do the stories come: while you’re painting or after you’ve finished?
Generally, I don’t create stories for my commissioned art because the clients provide their own stories. But once, when it was completed, a client asked me to create a story for their painting, and I did.
Here’s a question for those interested in perhaps commissioning your work for birthday or holiday presents: How long does it take you to complete a painting? (From the time they send in their packet of info to the day you sweep the final brushstroke?)
I generally like to have about 90 days to take a painting from start to finish. Often it may be completed sooner than that, but having had my fill of deadlines in my commercial art career, where the client always wanted it yesterday, I don’t do deadlines any more. The time it takes is less a function of the size or complexity of the piece than of the number of commission in the works at the time.
Mr. Lehrman, I know you are a busy man. I contacted you during the High Season of October when your hands were full. You were so kind about explaining how busy you were, but that you would get back to me. I really appreciate you doing that and taking the time to answer my questions!
Below are a few of my other favorite paintings by Mr. Lehrman. As I uploaded them, I realized another thing I adore about his work are the titles. They’re so evocative! (Not just the images, but the names too.)
To see more, or to view any of them in larger scale (when you click on a pic it shows you a full-size version), visit Mr. Lehrman’s Gallery page.