Sunday in the Park with Les Castellanos

Les Castellanos

LES CASTELLANOSa traditional painter and educator in the Hudson Valley, was born in Peru and joined his family in New York at the age of eleven. A graduate of The School of Visual Arts, he has received awards from the Art Students League, The Society of Illustrators, and The Art Director’s Club. In 1996 he was a Recipient of the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Award. During that time, Castellanos was a guest instructor at The School for the Visual Arts and was also part of an arts program for children at P.S. 22 funded in part by the New York Academy of Figurative Art, where he completed his Masters Degree. He is The Weeklings’ art editor.


Artist Statement

I have always considered myself lucky when it comes to having a purpose in life. I found out early on how much I loved making things. As I got older my artistic passion found a focus. In college I gravitated towards a group of traditionally trained artists, and I was hooked. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy all sorts of image making. Right now I’m all over instagram, although I think it’s making me lose some of my Facebook friends.  No matter what other media I try out–photographs, animations, sculptures, short films–I always come back to drawing and painting.

The past four years I’ve been doing still lifes. I’ve been waking up early or staying up late and doing Daily Paintings. Sometimes I sell them, sometimes they disappear and all I have is a digital image. Honestly, I don’t know where they end up.  In between still lifes, I like to paint people.  Painting and drawing the figure was at one time all I ever did.  My family–a 12-year-old with funny social issues, a 10-year-old that craves Minecraft like a forty year old craves caffeine, and a set of 7-year-old twin girls whose used to bite the fucking cat  (Can I curse on here?) — leaves me with little time to focus on large figure painting. Well, I shouldn’t say “little time.” I should say “long chunks of time”. I have a lot of free moments when I try to sneak in some artwork. The morning is good for still lifes, the local art center and my studio are good for figure drawings, and my friends like to come over, have a beer and have their portraits painted.

Most of my day is spent teaching. I’ve been teaching since ’94, right out of college. I started teaching high school in ’99, and I’ve been there ever since. Teaching is an interesting career. I’m old enough now to have students who are having kids or getting married, and I have to say, it’s a little weird. Thanks to Facebook, I know what happened to that kid who got an A in my class, and to that other kid who did not. Whenever I’m having a bad day I think of my college days. And not because I was thin, popular and talented, but because of one the kindest art teachers I’ve ever had, Irwin Greenberg, an amazing painter and human being who truly wanted the best for his students.  If it wasn’t for my him, I never would have gone into teaching. It’s because of Greeny that I try not give to many detentions, and that I draw and paint every day.


“Occupying the Table”

 8″ x 8″ oil on canvas

“Oranges on Purple”

 6″ x 6″ oil on board


“Orange Slices II”

  5″ x 5″ oil on board



6″ x 6″ oil on board


“Orange Peeled”

6″ x 6″ oil on board


“Sisa’s Tea Set”

 6″ x 6″ Oil on board

Here are some drawings out of my sketchbook as well as one of my favorite painting studies.

About Sunday in the Park with Art

SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH ART is a weekly feature in which we highlight the work of a visual artist.
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