David A. Leffel (b. 1931),
David A. Leffel (b. 1931), "Antique Chinese Bird Feeders," 2022, oil on canvas, 13 1/2 x 16 1/2 in.

InSight Gallery is set to open a selling show of recent artworks by David A. Leffel and Sherrie McGraw, the Taos-based artists, authors, and teachers renowned for their virtuosity and generous sharing of knowledge with younger artists.

At a Glance:
Mystery and Light: David A. Leffel and Sherrie McGraw
InSight Gallery
Fredericksburg, Texas
March 1–31, 2024

Born in Brooklyn, David A. Leffel (b. 1931) spent 11 years of his childhood battling a bone disease in various hospitals. He used that time to hone his drawing abilities, which eventually led him to enroll in Parsons School of Design, as well as Fordham University. At the Art Students League of New York (ASLNY), he flourished under teacher Frank Mason and ultimately taught there himself for 25 years.

In his reclaiming of forgotten techniques, Leffel has been especially inspired by 17th-century Dutch painting; like his idol, Rembrandt, he has mastered contrasts of light and shadow that evoke timeless beauty and a touch of mystery. He has perfected the depiction of what the late art historian Michael Zakian called “light falling and flowing over objects. By treating light as a vital force, Leffel gives his paintings the feeling that they are infused with life.”

Sherrie McGraw (b. 1954), "Venus," 2023, pastel on card, 25 1/2 x 19 1/2 in.
Sherrie McGraw (b. 1954), “Venus,” 2023, pastel on card, 25 1/2 x 19 1/2 in.

Sherrie McGraw (b. 1954) grew up in a large, supportive family in Ponca City, 100 miles north of Oklahoma City, the state capital where she spent three years in the mid-1970s studying art with Richard and Edith Goetz. Eventually McGraw headed to the ASLNY, even moonlighting as a night guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. At the League, she acquired the rigorous drawing techniques handed down from its legendary instructors George B. Bridgman (1865–1943) and Robert Brackman (1898–1980), and she learned about painting from other teachers, including David A. Leffel. By 1984, at just 30, McGraw was teaching her own classes at ASLNY.

Through her bestselling book, The Language of Drawing: From an Artist’s Viewpoint (2005), McGraw has become a champion of the age-old, yet dismayingly overlooked, fact that sound draftsmanship is the bedrock of artistry. Drawing, she explains, is that crucial stage “where one learns to see,” where the intimate act of capturing the essence of a subject takes place. “A good draftsman,” she posits, “knows more and draws less.”


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