Erv Lauffer: an artist with an amazing gift
That is beginning to change, however. With the support of his wife, Donna, Lauffer has been creating astoundingly-detailed paintings which hang around their living room, some bearing ribbons and awards. Lauffer began his artful endeavors by working as a draftsman, for church architects and mechanical engineers. When he was just going into high school, his guidance counselor said he should take up mechanical things like shop, something to make more money with. So Lauffer never went to art school, but always wonders how that would have turned out.
“I like detail,” Lauffer said. “What happened was, I became a draftsman. I did all kinds of drafting for most of my life, and I said that someday I want to learn how to paint, because painting is entirely different than sketching or using pen and ink.”
Lauffer has only been officially painting for 18 months, taking classes with Niagara Falls-based artist Paul Thomas Hanover, whom he met at the Alden Art Show. Before he finally picked up a paintbrush, Lauffer was doing pen-and-ink sketches of area buildings and homes. His art has grown out of his pure love for creating, and the inspiration he finds in the world around him.
Years back, Lauffer and his wife were in Cracker Barrel when he saw a dome with a business card in it that had a little wrench motif. Lauffer was inspired, and started with business cards and creating scenes under glass domes. He has done 80 three-dimensional depictions, like mini dioramas about a person and their career. On napkins at restaurants, Lauffer would draw a cartoon of the waitress and leave it with the tip; this led to the Olive Tree approaching him to create a likeness of their establishment for their menu.
“People recognized his creative ability and started asking him to do things,” Donna said. “Like where he worked, when men were retiring they would ask for a cartoon sketch of the person. He got very creative, with scenes of their career or life around them.”
Lauffer also painted two rooms at Crossroads Church, a jungle scene and a seascape, before he even took painting lessons.
“For doing the church, for those rooms, I didn’t really want to do it,” Lauffer said. “But God was dealing with me, so I totally trusted Him. I didn’t know how to draw a cloud. What I was so nervous about was the fact that I’m slow, and working with latex paint on a wall, it dries very quickly. What you put on there, it better be right.”
Lauffer no longer has reservations about expressing himself through paint. However, he was hesitant to get started. Luckily, or as Lauffer would say, an act from God, he met Paul Thomas Hanover in his booth at the Alden Art Show.
“He’s my instructor,” Lauffer said. “How I met him was, I prayed about it for years. I said I wouldn’t get involved with painting, because to do a good job takes a long time. I have a busy and active life with the church, our kids, and our home – I said I couldn’t afford the time. That was my big excuse.”
Then Erv began experiencing health issues, and the excuses stopped. His family staged an intervention. It was time for Lauffer to seize his talents and create majestic paintings for the public to enjoy. Lauffer visited art shows to find confidence, and met Hanover, who shares his detail-oriented nature and Christian values. A year ago this October, Lauffer began his lessons with Hanover.
Lauffer never painted before in his life until he took classes with Hanover. He started with acrylic paint and did a still-life. Lauffer’s still-life hangs in his living room, and has lots of details, like nails on the wooden Coca-Cola crate and a depiction of Niagara Falls on a Shredded Wheat box. Another painting is separated into six sections, depicting the different seasons. Lauffer has also painted a couple of birds, but no portraits of people.
“I want to find where my niche is, because famous painters have a niche,” Lauffer said. “Like [Thomas] Kincaid is the “Father of Light.”
Lauffer never measures, preferring to do things by eye, which is staggering considering the intricate detail of his work. The still life - his first painting - took more than 200 hours. Lauffer was told it was worth $3,450 in an art market. His paintings bear striking, saturated, bright hues, which could be due to his red/green color blindness. Colors don’t show up as bright to Lauffer, which could be why his paintings turn out extra-bold. His paintings have whimsical titles like “Free to Dance” and “Remember When.”
For now, Lauffer knows he still has much to learn. But hopefully, he will be taking his artwork public so that it can be enjoyed by even more people. He is truly a man with a gift.