Edoardo Rasetti speaks to cycling artist Greig Leach in the second part of his interview with Cycling Republic.
Leach is obviously a cycling fan, as well as an ex-amateur cyclist; he “raced from the age of 16 to 20 years old in the DC area.” Hence, as many fans there are certain races he loves as a fan and to paint, and also riders and teams.
“Paris Roubaix may be my favorite, certainly of the one day Classics. It was harder to paint, although I was very happy with the resulting works. It is difficult to film the race between the restricted section of pave, and then the roughness of camera positions as their shake their teeth loose on the pave.”
As for the Grand Tours it is the Giro, which occupies the top of the table: “My favourite of the Grand Tours is the Giro D’Italia, it is serious racing mixed with some serious fun.”
The latter has won his heart over thanks to one episode in particular: “One of the first times I watched the race, a member of the peloton was riding through his home town on his birthday. He went out ahead of the race to meet his family and friends on the side of the road, where there was a full blown party going on. As the peloton arrived, they all stopped had some pastry, passed trays of treats around to each other, then road off, with the race back on by the outskirts of town.”
Obviously though also the Tour is one of his favourites since its “always a very special race of great drama and beauty.”
As for the teams “from a painting point of view, I love team kits that have some colour, this move to black kits in the peloton frustrates me. I like Cannondale, Garmin Sharp, and Europcar as teams and for their kits. Lampre brings a great splash of colour to the spectacle of the peloton too. CCC Polstat is always a treat.”
Under the racing point of view Leach loved and now misses the Basque “Euskaltel Euskadi both for their attacking climbs and their bright orange jerseys.”
Riders-wise there are some very curious, as well as controversial, favourites: “While unpopular now, I still like Lance Armstrong. And although they are out of the game now, I am a George Hincapie and Juan Antonio Flecha fan. Current members of the peloton include, Thomas Voeckler, Fabian Cancellara and Mark Cavendish.”
Amongst his numerous works of art there are also two that stand out for Leach: “’Rocking and Rolling’ and ‘Salute’”.
“The first is the final sprint up the Champs Elysee at the end of the 2013 Tour de France, it includes Marcel Kittel, Andre Greipel and Mark Cavendish. The second is Arthur Vichot celebrating his win in the 2014 Paris Nice while wearing the Tricolore of French National Champion.” (Arthur Vichot has Leach’s painting as wallpaper on Twitter)
2015 will see Leach’s’ hometown of Richmond (Virginia) host the Cycling World Championships.
For the World Championships Leach confirms he “will [be] doing a number of different projects leading up to the races here and during the week of races as well.”
He has also already started working with the race organises: “I have been working with the Richmond 2015 organisation and we will be releasing a print of one of the watercolour works I created imagining what the race will look like sweeping pass the statues on Monument Avenue in the centre of town.”
“We are talking about creating murals around the city, painting the races live in one of the "fan areas" along the courses and selling prints and originals from each day.”
However that is not all he is going to do in 2015 as “there are some other things in the works, including an exhibition of my art and the Virginia Museum of Sports in nearby Portsmouth, Virginia.”
Richmond 2015 will also be an opportunity for Leach “to generate more publicity, but I am always on the look out for more opportunities to get the word out there.”
Collaboration with Cyclingfans.com
A selection of his art work has also appeared on the cycling race streaming website Cyclingfans.com. This collaboration began thanks to social media: “Pete [Greyer, owner of Cyclingfans.com] and I met through Twitter.”
“I had seen some art on the site and ask if he might be interested in including a couple of my works as well. He asked if I would be willing to have the work used in connection with each of the races.”
This though isn’t the first time his work is exhibited on cycling websites since happened last year “with cyclo.uk.co to great success. They used my work to illustrate their coverage of races. They decided to cover their first American race with the US Pro Championship in Colorado since I was planning on painting the race. “
Other than kick-staring Leach’s cycling painting work, Bridget Gethins, his wife (who is also an actress) plays the part of the muse for the American artist: “She has always inspired me to push myself, try new ideas and to believe in myself as an artist. I have always said that all of my great ideas are hers.”
“From using Shiva Paintstiks to painting small watercolours of bike racing, so much of what I do was initially her idea. Of course, those ideas have to be made flesh, and it is my artistic eye that helps to bring them to fruition.”
Also many artists have played a role in inspiring Leach: “One of the biggest influences in my work has come from the American artist Wayne Thiebaud, others include Edward Hopper, Thomas Hart Benton, Henri Matisse, Paul Cezanne and Caravaggio.”