Saturday, May 27, 2006


So many thoughts race through my mind at the moment it is quite difficult to put them into a coherent blog entry. Since I've been back in New Jersey, I have been totally focused and consumed by my painting. I'm rather tired from my trip, yet for the first time in my life, that hasn't compromised my ability to work. Every moment spent away from the easel I'm thinking of it and planning. As I do my morning run I am composing new paintings and figuring out how to best execute them. I've even planned to go to the art supply store on my way to my nephew's graduation party today to buy a much smaller sketch. I will keep on hand at all times to jot down ideas and to do thumbnails. In some sense I almost feel as I've gone mad and yet I also feel that this is how I've dreamed of feeling for as long as I can remember. I always wanted to be the artist that was living to work and now I see that as becoming my reality.

About a year ago I left my corporate job as a flooring designer to pursue my art. It was the greatest leap of faith that I've ever taken. Frankly, the first 6 months were torture. Every morning I woke with the thought that I had made a huge mistake. The devil's advocate in my brain kept telling me I was not disciplined, talented or imaginative enough to make it as an artist. However, as time went by and I had continued support from absolutely everyone, I realized I truly was my own worst enemy, as my mother had told me my entire life. (She doesn't read this so please don't tell her I said she was right.) I made my own mediocre reality. I never fully committed my heart to believing that as an artist I had a place in this world. Sure, I gave up the money and security and played very much the part of the artist but I didn't feel it deeply. Financial risk was easy, emotional risk was insanity. It is clear to me now that I must completely surrender to my art and pour my heart out in it. There is a chance that the work will be absolute crap and laughed out of every gallery. There is also a chance that it will be the greatest thing I've ever done for myself and everyone will be witness to it.

I write this rather personal entry for you to read so that you understand what it takes to be an artist. It isn't just about making pleasing images. Also, as part of my new outlook, I may be making fewer entries at times when my focus is greatest. Don't forget to subscribe to my blog(see the Squeet button to the right) so that you don't have to bother checking for updates.

This piece that I started before I left for England will take me many weeks to complete and will be explained more in future entries. I am starting a new series of works that will be using a different process than previous paintings. I will be painting in grey scales in the beginning for better structure, now that it has become more complex. Once all of the values are worked out and carry the eye throughout the work I will add glazes of color and areas of thick paint. In some cases I might even take the piece towards the realm of abstraction. For the first time in my artistic career it is about the process and not the finished product. I feel this will make my work not just good but great. I've been good at many things in my life, just never great. That is a result of weak commitment. That was then and this is now.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Back To Reality

Lovely day here in New Jersey, I must admit. I think we do have more than our share of sunshine. Yet, even though rain and drizzle were frequent on my trip to England, the visit was no less bright. I have to laugh to myself when I think of how many jokes were made about the weather there. Everyone liked to chide about it. Attitude makes for a good day not the weather.

These photos were taken at the end of my stay in Sheffield. As you can see, I got my pint at a local pub as well as a view of a castle. Whilst photographing the peacocks (check out the white one) I found out not only are people the same all around the world but so are weeds. Nettles. I think they finally stopped stinging today. Ha!

Seriously, anywhere you go in this world you can find beautiful things to see and wonderful people to meet. Sure there are differences but the similarities are greater.

I want to thank the lovely congregation at the Sinai Synagogue in Leeds for a very special Shabbat. Thank you Mr. Lewis and Rabbi Morris for your hospitality. It felt like home. Todah!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Lakes

This will be my final post from England. I must admit my heart is already breaking and it is only Saturday. My flight back isn't until Monday morning, I must stop torturing myself.

These photos were taken on Wednesday and Thursday in Grasmere at The Lakes. Rain held off until after we had the opportunity to walk up to where the waterfall was. Yes, there were more green hills and sheep. I am always amazed by the stone walls everywhere. So much stone and so many walls. I get tired just thinking about the work that was put into them. Sadly, you will not see the photo of me walking up to the waterfall. You could see the intense concentration on my face. I'm really afraid of heights but being here has helped with that some. Where's the photo you ask? The computer ate it unfortunately. Seriously, there was a bit of a malfunction and we lost the series of photos taken in Ambleside and during our little hike.

Anyway, I always have a certain level of frustration with photography. These photos, as lovely as they are, do not really show the grand sense of space and distance that truly exists when you visit places like this. With every photo that I took I would mutter "just not the same" under my breath. The camera lens flattens everything out. I have decided not to show some of the best photos from this trip and use them for paintings only. Perhaps the emotion will come across better in my art.

The lovely building is where we stayed. The hotel's name is Lancrigg and I thank the staff there for a wonderfully memorable stay. Please check out their website at It is a welcoming place with scrumptious vegetarian food. Our room was The Silver Howe. It is pictured on the site (the computer at that photo as well darn it.) Even if you are not a 'veggie' you would be astounded by the sumptuous meals and the relaxed and romantic atmosphere. It is definitely a place one gets the warm fuzzies. I will be back.

So, I'm off now to enjoy my last couple of days here. As much as I do not want to go home I am anxious to start on my new series of works inspired by this trip. I will try not to get too upset because I know I will be back.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Wet Wool and Green Hills

Life has truly become an amazing journey for me recently. I could almost say "Lord, take me now," because I feel it just can't get any better than this but deep in my heart I know it will. I've been so blessed as to have been able to see such a beautiful place as this and to have been so welcomed by all that I have met here.

Not much time to comment on these photos as there is still a drop of wine in my glass and chocolate to be eaten. However, I won't leave you without a brief description. Everywhere I go there are either pastures of sheep or fields of potatoes growing. I can tell you that the wet wool on living sheep smells just as bad as one of my wet woollen sweaters. Kenton laughs when I get so excited to photograph the little lambs. Hey, I am an animal artist. Seriously, each time I turn my head there is another picturesque green vista with rolling hills. The photos of sheep and crags (with Kenton's back) were taken today at Higgar Tor. Kenton, much like myself, hates his photo taken. When I go back to the States I will have to remember him from images of his back. The photo of the cottage with the attack cat and the pics of the cemetery with Little John's grave were taken in Hathersage. This little village stole my heart. Can't you just see me there with my easel painting away?

I just want to thank Kenton's parents for a lovely afternoon and for being so kind. I was so nervous to meet them and they made me feel at ease immediately. Lunch was delicious and fun. Thank you.

Tomorrow we are off bright and early to The Lakes! More later...

Monday, May 15, 2006

Yes We Have Photos of England!

Here is a quick glimpse of the beginnings of my trip across the pond. The nature scenes give you an idea of what is just about outside the front door of where I am staying. As you can see everything is a beautiful green and there are plenty of lovely rolling hills. Even the cows were friendly.

The three cats are Charlie, Spike and Hobbes. Charlie is the one sitting in the window, Spike is the black one curled up and Hobbes is the stoic guy sitting outside. They are so friendly and keep watch of everything I do. Gracie should enjoy the scent of these kitties on all of my things.

I've also included a few photos of London. For the most part they are self explanatory. I just had to include the shot of the kids with the street performer. I had to laugh to myself because I swear I saw this dude in Key West when I played tourist there! People and things are different and the same all over the world I guess.

I think it is quite clear that I am already having a wonderful time and I still have a week to go! Oh yes, the man in the photo with me is Kenton. He is a great host and I'll quit there so as not to embarrass him. Hmm, looks as I've misplaced my passport.

More updates to come!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Picture Perfect

Totally enjoying my second day here in England. Today I have gone for a 2 hour stroll around the area that I am staying and took approximately 60 photos for future paintings. They are lovely images of rolling hills, horses and old farms with a few cows thrown in for good measure. Oh and I cannot forget my 3 furry housemates, Spike, Charlie and Hobbes(sp?). I planned on showing them to you today with a few witty captions but...there is always a but. Despite my best efforts to install the software on this computer (sorry Kenton) and download the images, I could not get anything to work. So you will just have to trust me that the scenery is inspiring, the lighting and color unique to this area and the comments intended were brilliant.

My walk today helped me sort out some ideas and processes for the new series of works I have in mind. Last night my visit to a local gallery lit a fire in me to get started. Things are starting to come together. I used to work with limited vision of what the result would be and recently things have become much more clear. This new ability to see a body of work as a whole before I start it is so exciting to me. I believe this will lend itself to a maturity and cohesiveness that my work has not shown before.

My dear Kenton and I will be going to London this evening for the better part of the weekend. We will use his camera to take some good tourist type photos to share with you. So please come back Monday for another update on my trip. Oh...who's Kenton you ask? You'll just have to stay tuned for more info!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Thoughts of the Future

Graphite sketch by Levin
This will be my last post before my trip across the pond. I'll be visiting someone quite special and let's not forget seeing some of England. Whilst there I will visit a few gallery possibilities, take some photo reference and do sketches for a new series of landscape paintings I'm currently working on. Not only do I see my work changing a great deal but my entire life as well. There is much on my mind these days but I must admit I've never felt more at peace.

This little sketch was done this weekend while sitting in the park thinking about what may be in store for me in the future. (The paper is quite dirtied from hitting the ground multiple times from Gracie jumping up on my lap. Nothing like a 60 lb pit bull sitting on you for concentration.) I grabbed the photo reference from a lovely lady on WetCanvas because it really moved me. Sometimes the best moments are spent in solitude looking out and taking it all in. Being open is a difficult thing to do in this busy world but to not take the time can have devastating effects. I'm the poster child for it.

I will try to post some photos of my trip while I'm there. So keep coming back to see some details of my trip as it happens!

A new feature is the ability to receive this blog through your email. This way you do not have to look to see if I made an update. It will tell you automatically. Look to the right on your screen and check out the Squeet button. Put in your email address and follow the directions to get instant updates of my blog.

Thanks everyone at WetCanvas for welcoming me back so sweetly to the WDE's. I've missed you guys and all your beautiful work.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Loose Ends - Finished Dog Portrait and Such

Just five days left before I go for a little trip across the big pond. I'm wrapping up as many loose ends as possible. Trying to do a little work on my new website that should be launched very shortly. Coming up with plans for future works. Most importantly, if it is approved, my most recent commission is finished.

You can see that my task was to not only capture the good nature of Summer the Golden Retriever but to show her as she was in her younger days. The photo provided shows her as she is now with her well earned grey hairs. Thankfully there are no photos of me with my grey hair showing. Only my hairdresser gets to see those. I digress. Also, I had to open her eyes a bit because with age she has had some vision issues. Luckily, I was able to have Lasik surgery. Oops, I went off course again. Forgive me it is Friday. Hopefully, Summer's owners feel this captures her at her best and they approve. If not, that is ok as well and I will adjust anything as per their request. I always guarantee my work.

More info on my trip in my next entry. Have a great weekend everyone! OOOOH and Happy Cinco de Mayo! Have a margarita on me!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A Look Into My Sketchbook

Yup, just a little sketch of garlic. Did you expect something really sizzling? Sorry to disappoint you. Sometimes in order to focus on visual relationships I must pick rather mundane subjects. Drawing accurately is made more difficult by being enamored with a subject. That's what happens when one gets too close to anything I guess. Perspective is always a matter of proper distance. However, I must say these two little nuggets do look sweet together.

I put this sketch here to show you that even while I am busy with commissions, I continue to train my eye with drawing exercises. People often ask why art costs so much but they never think of all the extra work that goes into it. If I don't constantly work on my ability to "see" my art becomes awkward and stale. I cannot only work on pieces that generate income, I must also practice and explore just for the sake of doing so.

The commissioned portrait of "Summer" will be finished in a few more sessions and I will share it with you then. Back to my brushes!