In 1933, after Siqueiros left Los Angeles, Lehman met Lorser Feitelson
and started working with him. In a Los Angeles Times (9/17/33) review
of drawings, the chief Art Critic, Arthur Millier writes about the influence
that Feitelson had on a group of artists at the time. "One after
another I encounter young artists who have learned from his Shop of
knowledge, secrets of drawing and painting which help their own works
to blossom. Harold Lehman is one of these."
Later in the article he reviews Lehman's exhibit at the Stanley Rose
Gallery in Hollywood.
"The connoisseur of drawing should run swiftly to secure Mr.
Lehman's pencil study of a sleeping woman, an exquisite thing, graceful,
expressive and unmannered. His drawings show Lehman to be a sensitive
artist, reverencing and understanding the drawing of the masters...[He
also shows]a self portrait which, in its simplicity and honesty, might
stand as a portrait of the young artists of this generation."
(Self Portrait, 1933 shown on the upper right.)
Lehman's greatest influences came from Michaelangelo, El Greco, Piero
dello Francesca, Rembrandt, and Chinese and African sculpture. Among
the modern surrealists, he admired the work of Pablo Picasso and Giorgio
de Chirico. Total abstraction did not appeal to him.
In 1934, Salvador Dali had just had his first exhibit in the United
States. He stirred up much interest and publicity. During this time,
Lehman bought a small book written by Dali called Conquest of
the Irrational which contained many illustrations of Dali's best
work. Concurrently, he was also reading Freud and the Gestalt School
of psychologists. The essence of Gestalt was figure-ground relationships.
According to Lehman, "this fit right in with the Surrealist practice of ambiguity and ways of seeing reality. All this appealed to me as a new means of expression and when Feitelson claimed to be taking Surrealism one step further, I was ready for it."
By 1934 when Lehman painted his first Surrealist picture, he was already quite knowledgeable about the development of painting. He had already done Renaissance style mural painting and frescos, and expressionist-realist oil painting.