Elan Zingman-Leith is an artist who has been painting in oils since 1958, when he was seven years old. He's had many years of training and has sold paintings in New York. He and his wife, Susan, moved to Cape May New Jersey in 1989 to own and operate Leith Hall, a restored Victorian bed and breakfast. Elan's interests include architecture and history, which shows in his paintings.
Elan has been deputy Director of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, president of NY Preservation Specialists, chair of the Cape May and the West Cape May Historic Preservation Commissions, trustee and president of the New Jersey Historic Trust, trustee and president of the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts, and curator of the Emlyn Physick Estate in Cape May.
Elan paints landscapes and cityscapes, with special interest in the effects of light and weather. His locations include Cape May, where he and Susan live, and many places around the Mediterranean, where they travel every winter. His style is traditional, with the color of the Impressionists, but seldom the broken brushstrokes.
Benny’s Landing is a road that winds from the mainland of New Jersey into the wetlands near Stone Harbor. The views of the wetlands there are almost 360 degrees and it is a great location for paintings of sky and weather. The boat wasn’t there. I stole it from a painting by Monet because the scene needed a focal point and some color.
This is a big painting of the night view from my living room window in New York, thirty-five years ago. I painted it very quickly with very thin paint and hung it in the same living room, without any furniture. It hangs in my dining room in Cape May. The building in the left foreground was actually painted by my neighbor. Susan and I were on vacation and my neighbor came in and finished the painting. I’d left it unfinished for several years and it always drove her crazy. Fortunately, she’s a great painter.
Marsaxlokk is one of the dozen pretty towns in Malta. Years ago, Susan and I spent a month in Malta and toured every village on both islands. The Maltese paint their traditional fishing boats with stripes and sometimes with eyes on the prow.
The bright colored boats in this little harbor and their reflections in the water were an interesting subject. For me, this was an exercise in painting water and reflections.
This is a large abstract painting I painted about fifty years ago. My interest was in dividing the rectangular canvas in an interesting way and in using very modulated blues and mixing wet on wet color.
This is a portrait of Susan on a horizontal format canvas. I put her on the far right of the canvas to avoid a cliché composition. The size is larger than life size and sometimes startles viewers, especially if Susan is sitting underneath the picture.
I recently saw the Yale youtube art history video about Franz Hals and the “rough style.” I thought I’d try a portrait of Susan in this unpolished style. Her pose is the “looking over the back of a chair” with the elbow pointing straight at the viewer that Franz Hals made famous.
Oil on canvas
18”w x 24”h
Susan and I once spent a week in Venice during Carnival. We were walking along the Grand Canal near the Rialto bridge when I saw these three Spanish ladies, waiting for a gondola. The gondolier had left and they were just standing on the dock waiting for him to return. They looked so appropriate in their black costumes in the largely black-and-white surroundings.
The strong one-point perspective, the high contrast scene, the architecure of the palaces along the Grand Canal, and the water and reflections combine to make this one of my favorite paintings.
To many, the Alhambra in Granada is the most beautiful building in the world. Instead of making its effect by making the rooms and the elements of the building larger and more bombastic, like a Baroque palace, it makes its point by making the building more complex. In the same way that Gothic cathedrals expressed their religious feeling by being taller and bigger, the Alhambra expresses its view of magnificence my multiplying the number of courtyards, of pools, of rooms, and of patterns. It is amazingly complicated.
In this painting the light from the courtyard spills ont the wet marble floor and makes a reflection of the copper doors. The arches and the person are silhouetted against the shine. The man in the burnoose is Rashid Lamrani, who was our guide in Morocco. He is a very modern young man, but one day his friends dressed him up in a burnoose, and he immediately looked very exotic. He appears to be looking down at something very important, but, in fact, was checking his cellphone. I moved him from Morocco to this painting of Spain, because I wanted a traditional looking figure in the painting.