Saturday, June 23, 2007

Perils of Plein Air

Sketch by Lori Levin
Curious Shed by Lori Levin"Curious Shed"
9"x12" acrylic on panel

I watched videos of people painting outdoors many times. I've witnessed it as a passer by many times. However, I've only done it myself a few times. The few times I did it I was alone and hidden from other people and very close to my car. This time was different.

I went to the park last week and quickly sketched this old shed in someone's yard on the edge of the park. I liked how mysterious it looked. Due to the tree cover everything had a green cast. I did 4 sketches and have shared one with you as seen above though I changed the composition in the painting. I was excited to go back the next day and paint. Stamina, or lack there of, still requires that I do things in stages.

So the following day I happily walked through the park with my little painting supplies and folding chair. Like Superman changing in a phone booth I had everything ready to go in a flash. I had practiced in the comfort of my studio a few times so I wouldn't look like a complete fool in public. Right. I sit down and begin my session as a newly liberated painter of living nature. Masterpiece here I come.

Ok, nobody warned me that the birds beautiful songs would make me want to daydream. Not a soul mentioned how the ducks would find "my space" to be an interesting place to check out and beg for food. Let's not talk about the mosquito that had lots to say in my ear. I also won't mention the numerous ladies that came by to tell me about their very talented children that love to "do art". Basically, I was not prepared for the required focus of painting en plein air.

Needless to say I refused to come home with nothing. I worked feverishly so that the acrylics would not dry before I got to smoosh them around on the panel. In about 3 hours I finished the above painting. I felt as I had worked for 13. I was exhausted but in a good way. The experience was exhilarating and educational. I just love being outside and want to develop this skill so I can travel everywhere and paint the loveliness right in front of me. I have a long way to go before I'm comfortable with doing this but overall I don't see it as a bad start.

I have great hopes of making another attempt a painting at Riverview Beach Park in Pennsville, NJ this week. Feel free to stop by and tell me about your great Aunt Martha who does watercolors on Sundays.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Come and Sit Here

Riverview Park by Lori Levin

"Come and Sit Here"
acrylic on paper

As promised, here is the companion painting to the ACEO I shared with you in my last post. (By the way, it has been sold.) The color is close but it seems the camera lost some of the purples and reads them as black. It is close enough as I want all my energy to be spent painting, not playing with Photoshop.

I enjoy painting on water color paper. There is something freeing about it. I look forward to experimenting with texturing the paper first and heavily layering paint and scumbling to allow the previous layers to show through. I am developing this new style in acrylic. I am trying to express another side of myself, perhaps the less obvious and more "layered" side. Acrylic is so different from oils that it requires me to paint in a completely different manner. I like it as I have no expectations as of yet. It is far more immediate and requires me to be in the moment much more because if I don't work super fast it dries and I must start all over. It is less about blending and far more about layering. Feel free to let me know what you think about it.

I will continue to do my pet portrait work in the more detailed and realistic style using oil on canvas. That will never change. I've received some emails asking if I am back to accepting commissions. The answer is YES. How else do you expect me to afford to feed poor Gracie?

In my next post I will share my trials and tribulations with my first true painting "en plein air" with my new pochade box. So c'mon back.

Monday, June 11, 2007


sketch by Lori Levin
Bridge by Lori Levin"Come Sit Here"
3.5"x2.5" ACEO
colored pencil on bristol

ACEO stands for Art Cards, Editions and Originals. These are 3.5"x2.5" works of art in any medium that are bought, sold and traded amongst artists and patrons. They can be found on most auction sites like eBay and Etsy. They are often very inexpensive and a great way to own a little piece of your favorite artist's work. You can also find them by typing in ATC (Artist Trading Cards) in the search field on auction sites. Proper matting and framing can turn these miniatures into something quite grand.

Art cards for trading have quite a history. During the 16th century they were used as "wallet photos" of a man's mistress. They were detailed nudes that the man carried around without his wife knowing. Today men just surf the net for internet porn. I guess not much has changed.

I am not certain if I will make a habit of creating such little works but I just might. However, I did take great joy in playing with the format and trying my hand in it. If you would like to purchase my ATC of "Come Sit Here" please contact me. The scene is from the park in Pennsville, on a lovely breezy evening, looking out at the Delaware Memorial Bridge. My pup Gracie sat at my feet while I sketched in my Moleskine. Then I came right home and did the colored pencil version. I probably will do a larger version in acrylic on paper some time this week.

Why not try your hand at this age old tradition. Go on...I dare ya to have some fun!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

On Being Precious

Sketch by Lori Levin
Acrylic by Lori Levin

"Under the Bridge"
on site sketch in my moleskine journal
Delaware Memorial Bridge, Pennsville

"Under the Bridge"
9"x6" acrylic on paper

If perception is reality then what does it mean to treat one's work as being precious? For me it means taking things much too seriously. Art making is a gift and is meant to be made with passion and excitement. Too often we are afraid of judgment and therefore every stroke must be perfect. This is where many artists run into blocks of their creativity. If every step is scrutinized the joy is lost. There is a fine line between taking care with a brushstroke and killing it before it ever hits the canvas.

It all comes down to enjoying the process. This is my mantra of late. With my energy limited, every moment of my day must be cherished. There no longer is time for drudgery. I've always enjoyed my work but now it is crucial.

Saturday, June 02, 2007


vietnam vet by lori levin

This is Carlton. Big biker dude with serious ink covering his body, long hair and a belly that has enjoyed a few beers. He's a Vietnam Vet. Would you shy away from him at a party or sit next to him for a long chat? We've all seen and known folks like this and depending on your own background you have an opinion or idea on your head of what he is all about. This is your reality. The truth is that your reality is only a perception of what is truly there. Now, I don't mean to get all deep and spew a bunch of crap at you. I really don't take myself that seriously. What I'm trying to say is that every single one of us sees life and others through the eyes of our own experiences. Everything is colored by what we think we know. Often we think others see things the way we do. We know it isn't so but we tend to do it anyway.

This is something I always catch myself thinking about. How altered is my vision? How do others perceive me/my art and does that really matter? The glory of being an artist is that I get to spend my day creating visual representations of the world as I see it. The fly in the ointment is that when you view my art, you see what you want to see based on what is comfortable to you. At the end of the day, I must be satisfied with the process and that I captured my vision with drawing or painting because in the end you may not see what I intended. That's ok.

I guess I answered my own question.