Featured Artist: Dave Leppar
David Leppar (Dave) lives in Weirton with his wife, Sue. He graduated from Weir High School, and the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics. Dave is a self-taught artist that has had no formal art instruction and hasn’t integrated himself into the arts world until a few years ago. He painted a few ‘rough’ pictures in oil when he was 10-20 years old, but stopped to explore other interests. Most of Dave’s paintings are highly realistic paintings, and his professional background reveals why he naturally paints this way.
“I have always had a love for model-building, which I have pursued all my life both for enjoyment and professionally,” Dave said. “I’ve had 3 years instruction for architectural drafting and although I’ve built store-bought models, I prefer creating scratch-built models from blueprints. I’ve built models for a Weirton Steel legal case, models of ships from Navy blueprints, and a 1/87 scale model of the Weirton Community Center from the city’s blueprints, among other things.”
Dave retired from Weirton Steel where he was an Electrical Supervisor for over 30 years. Besides working with electrical systems, he also programmed Logic Controllers (PLC’s), like robotics, but for very large machines. He has also studied computer programming, having earned 3 certifications, and has written computer programs as a hobby. Dave went on to say, “As you can see, by working all my life in these sciences and a lot of mathematics, it reflects in my paintings. Painting realistically isn’t so much of an “expression” for me, but a challenge (perspectives, dimensions, color-matching, etc.). I think I spend too much time trying to be ‘exact’. A person once said that the last 10% of a painting takes up 90% of the time! That’s me. Expressionism in painting, like so many artists here, is something I would like to achieve.”
About 5 years ago, after decades without painting, Dave started looking for something to do in between model projects. He then started painting again. Only in the last year has he decided to put model building on hold and really concentrate on painting. “I’ve never really shown my paintings to anyone, I just complete a picture and put it on a shelf in the basement,” he said when asked about his work. “I still work in oils because that’s all I’ve ever known. I constantly try different subjects such as football players, city scenes, still life, and landscapes because I’m not sure yet what I like best. It’s fun to experiment.”
When asked about being a part of the Top of WV Arts Council (TWVAC), Dave said, “For years, walking about in the Weirton Museum and looking at the artist’s displays, I was always amazed at the talent in this valley. The same goes for the Summit Art Gallery. This is where the Arts Council is important to me.” He continued to say, “Being a relatively new artist and seeing these beautiful displays, I would love to try other styles of painting. Attending the meetings and talking to other artists, I have opportunities that I never could have imagined. Besides promoting the artistic culture of this valley, the Top of WV Arts Council also does so much work for the area youth, from classes to displays. I know that if those opportunities were there for me in my youth, I would have pursued my artistic abilities throughout my life! I believe its truly life changing for these students. I would guess that for every talented artist being displayed at Summit Art Gallery, there are probably 3-4 more good artists in this valley that are not only unknown, but don’t know about the Summit Gallery and the Top of WV Arts Council and the opportunities that exist here. This is where promotion is important. I would love to see more input from the city and state for promotional purposes.”
If you are interested in checking out Dave’s work, his art is on display at the Summit Art Gallery, located at 3539 Main St, Weirton, WV.