Artist likes the texture a pallet knife gives his paintings

Diane Crocker
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CORNER BROOK  Randy Lieb doesn’t believe in taking himself too seriously as an artist.
Lieb said one year you could sell 27 paintings and think you’re on the edge of being discovered, and the next only sell three.

Randy Lieb

“If you take yourself serious this kind of up and down is too hard on you,” he said. “So just laugh about it and be grateful for whatever happens.”

Lieb, 77, is originally from Germany and now lives in Ramea with his wife and four children, ages eight to 18.

He came to Canada as an immigrant many years ago and spent time all over the place before deciding to become a fisherman and be his own boss. He laughs and says you don’t have to lie then when you want you want to take a day off.

“If you want to lie in the meadow for an hour and watch the clouds nobody thinks you’re an idiot. I love the freedom of being a fisherman.”

So in 1972, Lieb settled on Woody Island in Placentia Bay where he built a stone cottage. He lived there for 28 years there and it was there that he became an artist while in his 50s.

Lieb said a woman showed up at his cottage one day who had been “trying to find herself,” and one way she tried was painting. The woman left a box of artists’ paints at Lieb’s and he decided to try painting.

Eventually, he started to sell his paintings and in 1986 by some “wild chance” was invited to Expo 86 in Vancouver, B.C.

After that Lieb said he started to take himself too serious and interest in his work dwindled. In 1995 he met Dixie Rich of Trinity Folk Art Gallery. Rich didn’t like his paintings and told him she wanted paintings of old houses and old boats. Lieb gave her what she wanted and found his niche in painting shore scenes. He also does portraits.

Lieb’s paintings are not created using a brush. Instead he uses a pallet knife. The choice of tool is simply because he likes to work fast.

Beyond that, he said the pallet knife gives his paintings a more unified texture. Lieb again starts to chuckle at how that makes him sound like an artist.

“Where it’s no flat colour,” he said. “There’s always colour showing through from underneath. It gives it some life.”

He said it can be hard to explain, but likens it to a little bit of wind blowing through. “It doesn’t look so flat and dull.”

Lieb likes the pastel work of Edgar Degas and uses that style in his own paintings with lots of bright colours to make the images pop.

“Most people I think would like to see the world around them a lot more colourful and that’s what I’m trying to give to them,” he said.

“I wanted to paint pictures that would somehow make the homes of lonely people a little bit brighter and warmer.”

The paintings generally take about three hours to paint, but then Lieb lets them sit for a week or two while he contemplates the outcome.

“You know it seems to be done, but you’re not quite satisfied with it. And maybe it’s just a little dab of yellow somewhere that should be there or some line, it’s usually a small thing that makes all the difference.”

A selection of Lieb’s work is currently on display at JL Gallery in Corner Brook. The exhibition will be up until May 18.

Painting is not the only art form he dabbles in as Lieb is also a writer. He writes a column for the Transcontinental Media weekly newspaper The Gulf News.

Twitter: WS_DianeCrocker

Organizations: JL Gallery, Transcontinental Media

Geographic location: Germany, Canada, Woody Island Placentia Bay Vancouver, B.C.After Corner Brook

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