Hong Kong Art Tutoring | Leah Yerpe

Artist of the Week – Leah Yerpe

Posted on November 1, 2014 · Posted in Artist of the Week

Hong Kong Art Tutoring | Leah Yerpe

Arcas, 36×92
Charcoal on paper, 2013

New Yorker Leah Yerpe creates large-scale works that have dreamlike qualities. Her figures are either suspended in space in unusual compositions that either seem to be either floating and levitating or falling through an infinite void.

Her titles allude to mythological elements, which seem to manifest themselves in her eerie, somewhat spiritual work. Yerpe’s figurative human bodies are beautifully composed and executed. Traditional media is used in a traditional manner and employed with a sophisticated and sensitive use of form, tone and colour.

Yerpe’s work has featured widely, in numerous magazines such as Clone Magazine, Muse Magazine and Juxtapose. She consistently exhibits in and around New York, including “Stellify,” The Gallery at Le Poisson Rouge and “Infinitum,” Dacia Gallery, Manhattan, NY

In her own words

What drives you to create? Have you ever felt like you had a choice?
I’ve always had many disparate interests. I can imagine myself having become a scientist or a farmer, but only as an artist can I explore all my interests to the exclusion of none. Art is the perfect filter; I can pour all my unrelated ideas and passions through it to create a unified whole.

Hong Kong Art Tutoring | Leah Yerpe

Gravity, 60 x 109 Inches
Charcoal on Paper, 2008

What inspires you and how does it effect your work?
This is difficult to answer. My work is influenced by my experiences in ways I do not understand. Sometimes I don’t realize why I am making an artpiece until years later. I try to read or go on an adventure every day because I never know when something will spark my creativity. Each new piece of knowledge and experience is poured into a deep well from which I can draw for the creative process.

Can you please describe the steps involved in creating your works.
I begin with a model who poses for reference photographs. This first step is very hands-off; the model self-directs through a series of quick poses with little input from me. My drawings are so careful and technical, I like to have the process begin with something a little out of my control.
After the modeling session is over, I sift through the poses, selecting, organizing, and layering them into dozens of preliminary sketches. This step is very intuitive. Once I get a sketch that I think will work on a larger scale, a sheet of paper is cut to size, and the sketch is enlarged free-hand with a grid. I begin the final piece with a light graphite line-drawing, and finish it with either charcoal or graphite and ink.

Hong Kong Art Tutoring | Leah Yerpe

Stasis, 139 x 100 Inches
Charcoal on Paper, 2008

You use charcoal a lot in your work. What do you find most appealing about working with charcoal?
Charcoal is elegant in its simplicity. It’s the dirty stuff leftover after a fire; yet it’s capable of creating the most beautiful velvety black and large swaths of delicately detailed shading. I work very directly, smearing the shadows onto the paper with my fingers, then going back in with an eraser to bring up highlights. It’s very forgiving. There’s also the added bonus that charcoal is all-natural, and contains no chemicals that could be harmful to my body or the environment.

Your work has a definite style, with the figures feeling like they are almost falling or rising, but at complete peace. Has your style changed over the years, if so how?
For years as a young artist, I struggled to have any style at all. I loved making art, but I didn’t love any of the art I was making. Being an artist when you’re very young is tough, because you’re still trying to figure out who you are and what you value. Style is informed by your values and what you think is important enough to convey artistically. I feel it’s only been in the last five years that I’ve started to confidently develop a true artistic style. And as I continue to mature as a person, my artistic style will mature with me. Hopefully in a good way!

Hong Kong Art Tutoring | Leah Yerpe

Crescent, 4.25 x 5.75 Inches
Graphite Ink on Paper, 2012

What are you currently working on?
I just started a large drawing on a 6×12-foot sheet of paper. I’ve been thinking about the ancient Greek myth of Daphne, who was being chased by a god, but then rescued by a second god who transformed her into a laurel tree. My latest drawing is inspired by the woman’s metamorphosis into a tree that, for many cultures, symbolizes life everlasting. Her transformation seems like both a blessing and a curse.

What’s next for you?
More art! I’m preparing for an upcoming exhibition this January. I think much of the artwork will be inspired by different stories of human metamorphosis, but it’s hard to predict where my creative mind will lead. All I can say for sure is I will continue making artwork, constantly striving to clarify my vision and technique.

Hong Kong Art Tutoring | Leah Yerpe

Poles – 5 x 6 Inches
Graphite and Ink on Paper, 2012

Hong Kong Art Tutoring | Leah Yerpe

Pause – 47 x 36 inches
Oil on Paper, 2007

Hong Kong Art Tutoring | Leah Yerpe

Hot Foot – 8 x 8 Inches
Graphite and Ink on Paper, 2012

Hong Kong Art Tutoring | Leah Yerpe

Equilibrium – 68 x 36 inches
Oil on Paper, 2008

Hong Kong Art Tutoring | Leah Yerpe

Orbit – 135 x 83 inches
Oil on Canvas, 2008








Leah Yerpe is an American artist born and raised in Cattaraugus County, NY. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. In 2009 she graduated from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY 11205 with an M.F.A. in Painting/Drawing.
All images courtesy of Leah Yerpe  |  www.leahyerpe.com

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