Sam Liberman did not take to painting until he was in his early 40s. He was trained as a lawyer and conducted civil rights litigation in his home town of St. Louis, Missouri for many years. He says that he turned to art partly as an escape from the people-oriented and verbal –oriented tasks of the law. He immediately fell in love with the painting process because he could do it without thinking of the consequences for anyone else, and because he could finish a piece of work in three or four hours rather than three or four years.
At a time when he was teaching at the Washington University Law School, he decided to sit in on the introductory painting class taught by a friend, Sheldon Helfman , at the Architecture School. Helfman is a water color master, but at the time Sam started out with acrylics.
“The thing I remember most is that Shelly told us that a painting is a visual statement about the subject,” says Sam. “Although I did not understand how a statement could be visual rather than verbal, I accepted the definition, and I still think of a painting in this way. I think it has helped me to realize that I can’t really think very far verbally about a painting, and it keeps me focused on the visual effect where I am comfortable. It may also account for the fact that I have difficulty of producing a satisfactory abstract painting.”
Sam stuck to acrylics for several years, and tried to learn something about drawing in various figure drawing groups in St. Louis, and in other places where he has lived. He was fortunate in having several good artist friends. One of them, Minerva Durham, had been working in pastels for many years, and that influenced Sam to try them.
When he finally retired from the law altogether, Sam managed to attend a number of pastel workshops with some of the best pastelists in the world, including Doug Dawson, Albert Handell, Colleen Howe and others. Since then he has worked with his mentor Bill Herring, and attended numerous painting sessions in New Mexico with Bill and other artists working in various media.
Although he had previously submitted work accepted into some of the many competitive pastel shows, had joined various groups starting with The Gateway Pastel Society in St. Louis, and had occasionally sold a few pastel paintings, he did not consider himself a complete professional artist until the 1990s when he gradually wound down his law practice. In the late 90s, he and his wife, Terri LaBriola moved to Sacramento, where in addition to the Sierra Pastel Society he is connected to the Capitol Art Center . He often paints and draws there, as well as exhibiting his work.
Sam has taken up oil painting along the way, and has widened his subject matter to include figurative work as well as the various kinds of landscapes that he specializes in. He is a person who prefers being outdoors to indoors, and in California, it is much easier to work outdoors all year round than it was in St. Louis. Much of his work is done in the studio. He paints landscapes and other organic subjects in his home studio, using photos and memory. His figures are done mostly at the studio where models are available for painting and drawing on a regular basis, and he enjoys the companionship and learning with other artists.
Sam’s work is always based on a realistic subject, but he departs from realism in his use of color. The colors express his feelings about the subject and whatever it may suggest to him. They are intended to free his and your thoughts and emotions. He is an amateur pianist and guitarist, and music plays a part in his painting. He often plays music in the studio, and occasionally dances when things are going well. He leans towards jazz, standards, folk and country music. Late in the day, he will usually put on Louis Armstrong to keep things going. If you look at his painting titles you may discover snatches of song lyrics, sometimes correctly recalled and sometimes a little off.
Many painters try to completely visualize their paintings before they paint, even selecting the title before they start. Sam follows a different process. He usually does a rough drawing of the surface , and then starts filling in the forms and lines with dancing colors. If something doesn’t work he takes it out and tries something else. He finds that pastel is a particularly forgiving medium in this respect. Since he is not trying to duplicate the color of the subject, pastel usually works best for him in trying to make the painting match his feelings. In any event, he does not complete the painting in order to produce the painting he had in his head to start with. Rather, he tries to locate the feeling that he had about the subject from the beginning or the feelings he develops as the painting goes along. The process leads where the painting will go. It finishes when he sees no further path. He says that when the changes don’t seem to make much difference or to make things worse, it is a good time to stop.
Finally in the late 1990s he decided to wind down his legal practice and concentrate on painting. An advantage of retiring from the law was the ability to do some travel. He and his wife, Terri LaBriola have taken trips to Europe, China, Viet Nam,Peru and many places in the United States. On these trips Sam doesn’t paint much, but he takes numerous photos and does a few drawings, both of which provide much of his future subject matter.
Among his teachers, Albert Handell admires the freshness of his work and his ability to tackle almost any subject. Bill Herring likes his color harmonies. His collectors are often taken with the simplicity, directness and harmony of his composition. What Sam likes best is the unlimited opportunity to learn about painting and about himself.
Information about accomplishments and recognition:
(This has not been updated since 2010. Sam will update or at least start adding new material in the near future)
2010 Northern Californian Arts, Inc "Bold Expressions"
2010 Sierra Pastel Society, "Pastels On High"
2010 The Wichita Center for the Arts, the Pastel National
2009 Chicago Pastel Painters, "Pastels Chicago"
2008 SierraPastel Society, "Pastels On High"
2008 Pastel National, Wichita Center for the Arts, "Bold Expressions"
2007 Pastel Society of the Southwest
2007 Northern California Arts, Inc
2007 Connecticut Pastel Society, 14th Annual National Exhibition
2007 Pastel Painters Society of Cape Cod
2007 Chicago Pastel Painters, First Biennial Show,
2006 Northern California Arts Association
2006 Pastel Painters of Cape Cod, Pastels Only, On Cape Cod
2006 Pastel Society of Colorado, Mile High Exhibition
2006 Emerald Art Association, Emerald Art Center National Juried Spring Art Exhibition
2006 The Wichita Center for the Arts, The Pastel National
2006 The Arts Guild of Old Forge, Northeast National Pastel Exhibition
2006 Charlotte County Art Guild. Inc., National Art Exhibit
2005 The American Artists Professional League, Seventy-seventh Grand National Exhibition
2005 Connecticut Pastel Society, “Renaissance in Pastels”
2005 Northern California Arts, Inc., 50th Annual Exhibition “Bold Expressions”
2005 Pastel Painters Society of Cape Cod, 10th Annual “For Pastels Only”
2005 Pastel Society of Eastern Canada, 10th Anniversary International
2005 Northeast National Pastel Exhibition in Old Forge, New York
2005 Associated Art of Ocean Shores, 36th Annual Fine Arts Show
2005 Maryland Pastel Society, Shades of Pastel Exhibition 2005
2004 Connecticut Pastel Society, Renaissance In Pastel
2004 Pastel Society of New Mexico, 13th Annual National Pastel Painting Exhibition
2004 Northwest Pastel Society, 18th International Open Exhibit
2004 Northern California Arts, Inc., 49th International Open Exhibition “Bold Expressions”
2004 Placerville Art Association, 37th Annual Mother Lode Art Exhibition
2004 Pastel Painters of Maine, Fifth Annual Juried Exhibition, Pastels Only
2004 Pastel Society of North Florida, Eighth Biennial National Exhibition
2004 Associated Arts of Ocean Shores, Annual Juried Fine Arts Show
2004 Charlotte County Art Guild, Inc., National Art Exhibit
2004 The Wichita Center for the Arts, The Pastel National
2003 Sierra Pastel Society, “Pastels on High”
2003 Mother Lode National Art Exhibition
2003 Pastel Painters of Maine, “Pastels Only”
2002 Connecticut Pastel Society, “Renaissance in Pastel 2002”
2002 Pastel Painters of Maine, “Pastels Only” 2002
2002 Pastel Painters Society of Cape Cod, “For Pastels Only, on Cape Cod”
2002 Sacramento FineArts Center, 5330-B Gibbons Drive, Carmichael, California
2002 Pastel Society of North Florida, Seventh Biennial National Exhibition, “Pastels 2000”
2001 Pastel Painters of Maine, “PASTELS ONLY”
2001 St. Louis Artists’ Guild, Prints, Drawings and Pastels
2000 St. Louis Artists’ Guild, Not Under Glass
2000 Connecticut Pastel Society, Seventh Annual National Exhibition, "Renaissance in Pastels"
2000 Pastel Painters of Maine, Annual Open Exhibition for “Pastels Only”
2000 Mother Lode International Art Exhibition
2000 Impact Artists’ Gallery, National Pastel Exhibition
1999 Pastel Painters Society of Cape Cod
1999 Pastel Society of New Mexico
1993-1998 Competition Sabbatical
1992 Pastel Society of the West Coast, "Pastels U.S.A."
1989 Pastel Society of the West Coast, "Pastels U.S.A."
1988 Pastel Society of the West Coast, "Pastels U.S.A."
1988 Kansas Pastel Society
1987 Kansas Pastel Society
1987 Springfield Realistic Fine Arts Society, Best In The USA Competition
Awards and Honors
2010 Award Of Excellence, Northern California Arts, Bold Expressions
2010 Award Of Merit, Sierra Pastel Society
2009 Captal Art Project, First Annual Pleine Air Paintout, Noah Sanchez Award
2009 Pastel Society of America Award, Chicago Pastel Painters, Pastels Chicago
2007 Merit Award, Northern California Arts, Bold Expressions
2007 Terry Ludwig Award, Chicago Pastel Painters First Biennial Show
2007 Fifth Place, Abstract Category, The Pastel 100, April 2007, The Pastel Journal
2005 Landscape Award, Pastel Society of the Southwest
2004 Women Painters of Washington Award, Northwest Pastel Society
2004 Watercolor Society of New Mexico and Ampersand Art Award, P. S. of NM.
2004 Award of Excellence, Northern California Arts, Inc, “Bold Expressions
2004 Pastel Society of the West Coast Award, Placerville Arts Assn. 38th Ann, Mother Lode
2002 2nd Merit Award, Pastel Society Of The Southwest Annual Juried Member Exhibition
2002 The Royal and Langnickel Award, Pastel Painters of Maine Annual National Exhibition
2000 Will Rudolph Memorial Prize, St Louis Artists’ Guild, Not Under Glass
1999 First Prize, Gateway Pastel Society
1989 Honorable Mention, The St. Louis Artists Guild 66th Annual Watercolor and Pastel Exhibition
1987 Second Place, Best in the USA Art Competition, Springfield Fine Arts
Selected Private Collections
The Donna Freireich Collection, New York, New York
The Peter Johl Collection, New York, New York
The Schulman Collection
Mr. and Ms. Richard Kellner New York, New York
Lois Vander Waerdt, St. Louis, Missouri
Jane and Tom Mendelson, St. Louis, Missouri
Mr. and Ms. Ira Bernstein, St. Louis, Missouri
Mr. and Ms. Richard Goldstein, Bluefield, West Virginia
Ms. Carol Stubbs, Sacramento, California
Susan Speigel and Stewart Halperin, St. Louis, Missouri
Leslie and Stephen LaBriola, Atlanta, Georgia
Susan and Jonathan Goldstein, St. Louis, Missouri
Lynn and Sandy Chaitovits, Rockville, Maryland
Pat and Jay Jacobson, New York, New York
Selected Corporate Collections
SL Green Collection, New York, New York
Barnes-Jewish Hospital Collection, St Louis, Missouri
Woodland Healthcare, Woodland, California
Selected one person exhibitions
2013 Artistic EdgeGallery, Sacramento, Califfornia
2012 Capital ArtWorks, Sacramento, California
2010 KOH Library, Sacramento, California 2009 The Butler Institute of American Art,Youngstown, Ohio
2009 The Blue Wing Gallery, Woodland ,California
2007 Benvenuti Performing Arts Center,Sacramento, California
2007 West Coast Wellness, Sacramento, California
2006 The Learning Center, Woodland, California
2006 Featured Artist, Art Foundry Gallery, Sacramento, California
2006 Featured Artist, Gold Country Artists Cooperative Gallery, Placerville, California
2004 Café Millazo, Sacramento, California, July, 2004
2001 Regional Commerce and Growth Association, St. Louis, Missouri
2001 JCCA Art Gallery, ST. Louis, Missouri
1999 Interior Accents Gallery, St. Louis, Missouri
1999 Off The Eaten Path, St. Louis, Missouri
1993 Bethesda General Hospital, St. Louis, Missouri
1991 Jay Brandt’s, St. Louis, Missouri
1983 The Atrium, Perryville, Missouri
'Letting Color Lead', The Pastel Journal, December, 2011
Best of America Pastel, Vol. II, Dec. 2009, Kennedy Publishing Co.
The Richeson 75 International, Landscape, Seascape& Architectural 2009, Finalist Book
The Pastel Journal, March 2007, profile and photo of prize winning painting
N Magazine, Jan 2007, Cover, Artist/Profile, p6
International Artist Magazine, Dec/Jan 2006, p.141, “On Location, Sam Liberman”
Pastel Artist International Magazine, May-June-July 2000 Issue, page 132
The Journal, the Jewish Community Center of St. Louis, January, 2001, page 18, “Art Gallery
Patris Gallery, 3460 2d Ave., Sacramento, CA
Artistic Edge Gallery, Alta Arden & Watt Ave.Sacramento, CA
Capital ArtWorks, Sacramento, California
Art Exchange.com, 804 Central Avenue, Hot Springs, Arkansas 71901
contact at email@example.com or 916-213-5282