Lindley Farley was born in Queens, New York, September 4, 1959. He studied piano from ages 5-8, then promptly retired from learning the instrument. “Mr. Brown, bless his heart, was my teacher, and in typical fashion of the day, taught me the rudiments of sight reading and nothing else. No theory, no composition, zip. At a certain point going to lessons was like going to the dentist every week. I’m surprised I ever took an interest in music after that, but those tools did come in handy when I played in The Mandolindley Road Show (my college pop-rock band). During my high school years, I was drawing pictures and making comic books.”
Several of Lindley’s comic books were published in the early 1980s by Continuity Comics’ imprint “Echo of FuturePast” (re-realized by Louis Mitchell and Neal Adams). Although it was a great experience, Lindley eschewed a career as a writer and illustrator when he saw the long laborious process of turning out a magazine coupled with the ultra low wages. “Many people in the comics world saw their own work as disposable – a ‘let’s get it and forget it’ attitude. I didn’t see my stuff that way.
“My father saw my nascent artistic talent and bought an oil paint set for me when I was about 13. I made my first painting the next year. As my Dad loved abstract and abstract expressionism, I think he was somewhat disappointed that I preferred representational realism. Really what I was doing with my early works was trying to make pictures like the classical ones I saw in the family art books. But I think it was authors’ descriptions of the works was most intoxicating – ‘No one in the history of Western art paralleled the use of Rembrandt’s chiaroscuro,’ or ‘Velasquez’ miraculous portraits showed not just feeling, but plumbed the depth of the human soul.’ Wow! Sign me up.
“But it wasn’t until I went to Queens College, and had good artists as professors – people like Charles Cajori, Robert Birmelin, Reynold Ruffins and Eleanor Magid – that I developed as a painter. It helped me to have talented people who could see what I was trying to do and point me in the right direction to get there.
“Ultimately, every artist has their own innate style and ability. Crafting it into something viewers want to see or will be interested in is the artists’ lifelong challenge. My sensibility has led me to urban realism. It’s not something I decided upon, but what comes naturally to me. Some artists see flowers and trees and are drawn to paint them. I see bricks and traffic and I want to paint that. I just have to make one that makes a viewer want to say, “I’ve never seen a painting like this before. I think I’d like to own it.”
Photo by Shell Sheddy