Ani and I had the honor of interviewing Barbara Harrison, Lennie’s long-time partner, last week. Here are some of the things that we discussed about the late, great artist, Lennie Kesl.
On Teaching and Painting
Lennie loved his students. In fact, many are now artists. He was a very popular professor. After he left the University of Florida, his friends, Nancy Ward and Norman Jensen, invited him to join the faculty at Santa Fe State College. That ended up being a better fit for him. It was a freer place, where he had great kids to work with and where he could express himself openly. SFSC was less formal than UF and had fewer rules and regulations. He had carte blanche at Santa Fe State College, where he filled the library with the most incredible art books that he ordered.
Lennie primarily taught painting, drawing, composition, and color theory. In his paintings, the three factors that were of importance to him were the composition and what he called the “golden triangle” and the “interstices” – which was the term he used for the negative spaces in a work. He also had very clear ideas on colors: warm vs. cool, warm vs. hot, and so on.
On Lennie’s Studio
Studio number 6 in the Tench building was Lennie’s studio. You couldn’t miss it! Lennie had drawn and painted all over the moldings. He was a packrat; the room was filled with so much artwork that he could not paint or draw in that room! Many times in the early hours of the morning, you would find Lennie in the largest room of the studios with his easel, a painting, his canisters of brushes, and a little stool that he used to do his work – so that he had plenty of space. He would even sleep on the couch in his studio!
Lennie’s house was more like a warehouse, as it was filled with his coll