Thursday, February 28, 2008

Digging It

Cloverside Farm by Levin "Cloverside Farm"
graphite sketch in moleski

I just have to say that I'm really grooving on sketching these Route 40 scenes in my moleskine journal. Each time I do it I feel like I've settled something in my mind. My vision seems to be gelling. Things just feel easier. Maybe it is the promise of spring or that I've been working far more regularly now but there is the great feeling of almost owning what I am looking at. I've had these moments before but lately they come more often and stay with me. Perhaps only other artists will understand this. Maybe everyone has these moments with their own efforts. It's so cool when things just make sense on their own without trying to make order of it all. Time to stop sniffing so much turpentine I think.

More posts from my sketchbook and plenty of new paintings in their infancy to share. Also, I plan to update the Soulful Studios website in the next month or two. Stay tuned.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Return to Old Haunts

Route 40 by Levin

"View from Route 40"
pencil sketch in moleskine

Lately I can be found sketching along the side of Route 40 at least once or twice a week. This view is one I've passed so many times in the past 10 years or so and it always makes me stop and stare. I have a thing for old farms off in the distance. Perhaps it is an interest in nostalgia and simple living. I'm a big fan of making things that you need and doing work with your hands. No, I'm not particularly handy or a "d-i-y" kind of lady but I greatly admire those that are and strive to develop those skills. The things I'm most proud of are those that I've created or fixed on my own and not items that I've purchased.

This old haunt is one of many that I've stayed away from for quite some time. Places that captured my heart in the past were connected with sorrow and disappointment and therefore I avoided them. Now I'm letting go and revisiting that which I once loved and finding new joy and meaning there. Once I thought I had to completely reinvent myself. Now I see I had it right all along, I just had to have the environment in which to thrive.

If you are patient enough, life always seems to come full circle.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


thoroughbred horses by Levin

20x30 oil on canvas
stages of the underpainting

Last week I took a trip to Coatesville to spend the day with a friend. She was kind enough to drive me around the area so that I could photograph some horses. We stopped at a field filled with young thoroughbreds that were probably to be weeded out for use on the track. This group was in their ugly years, probably about 2 and will be ready for saddling in the spring when their knees close. They were gangly, awkward and cocky. In my head I kept hearing the song "The Freshman" and the words in the chorus repeating "can't be held responsible".

There was no doubt I had to paint this gruesome group. I was intrigued by their wildness and naive look in their eyes. I think back to when glancing in the mirror my eyes shown of innocence. Sure, I'm by no means old but something is different in my gaze. I've mentioned this in blog posts before but it startles me every time I see it.

When did it happen? When did the world start looking different? When did I stop living without worrying about consequences? When did I grow up? Obviously it didn't happen overnight but recent events certainly sped up the process.

This isn't a bad thing and I'm thankful that I don't walk around in that stupid haze of youth. Yet, as I looked into the eyes of these silly equines I briefly longed to be there again. Thankfully, they started kicking and biting each other as youngsters will do and chaos ensued. Someone was going to get hurt. I snapped out of it, looked down to make sure I didn't trip on a twig, got in my XB, belted myself in and drove off.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Waste Not Want Not

Pit Bull by Levin
"Gracie Sleeping"
acrylic on canvas

Last week I mentioned that I would share what I did with leftover paint. All too often when I squeeze out acrylic paint I have some untouched when I'm done for the day. Supplies are so expensive and the paint just screams to be used up. I've been known to put plastic wrap on it and freeze it to use later but on this particular day I wanted to play.

Long ago I textured a canvas with some stuff that looks like stucco but never got to use it for a painting. So with my little bumpy canvas and my 3 blobs of paint I looked at Gracie sleeping in her bed and started to throw some color on the canvas. That darn dog can be in her bed for hours and not move. Why is it that as soon as I start painting a picture of her she gets up? It never ever fails.

Nevertheless, this was so much fun. Due to a very unprofessional and inconsiderate model, I only had 7 minutes to create this little piece. Ok, I know it shows but what a feeling of energy it filled me with. No drawing time or thought about color or placement. It was like finger-painting when you were little. Remember that? It wasn't about the picture you were making but about the feeling of the paint on your hands being smeared on that slick paper. The stuff even smelled like fun, much like a new box of crayons.

This was a great lesson in loving the process over the product. Too often in life we are on a mission to complete something and forget to enjoy the doing. I hope if you try to have a little fun like I did your model will cooperate!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Spread A Little Love

pencil pet portrait by Levin "Mare and Foal" (private commission)
graphite on archival paper

What better day to post the finished pencil portrait of the mare and foal than Valentine's Day. Women love their horses and moms love their children. Ok, I admit I'm reaching here. That truly was meant to be humorous but the feel good intent was there. Honest it was.

In my opinion you shouldn't wait for a holiday to tell someone how you feel about them. It should be an every day event. (My valentine makes every day seem like Christmas but that's our little secret.) However, some folks are a bit shyer about expressing themselves so they need a little push. So, in the spirit of Valentine's Day, go out and spread a little love. Tell your friends and family that you are thinking of them. Make someone smile and you won't be able to help but smile yourself. Sweeten the moment with a little chocolate, it couldn't hurt!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Great Gallery Reception

Friday night was a blast. First Impressions Art Gallery in Salem was packed with art and art lovers from wall to wall. There was great art, wine, food, music and plenty of people enjoying a nice evening of culture. If you missed it make sure you don't miss the next one as the events get better each time.

Many of the artists were there to greet patrons and to answer questions. Just to name a few were Alex Alampi, Bobbie Berg, Michael Braun and Don Brewer. Do take a moment to check out their websites to see some interesting and beautiful work.

For me the evening was less about art and more about a psuedo graduation for me. For well over a year my friends and family had to watch me go through some difficult times. Friday night was a real chance for them to see me beyond happy and healthy. So many friends showed up just to lend their support and to congratulate me on all I've worked for I was really blown away.

Thank you everyone for your continued support and belief in me and my work. I couldn't do it without you.

Friday, February 08, 2008

More Uses For My Car

Penn Beach by Lori Levin"Penn Beach at Noon"
9 x 12
acrylic on canvas

This is a "G" rated blog, so the other use for my Scion XB is a painting studio. Yup. You heard me. I ventured out with my painter's box to do a little plein air painting while looking out onto the Delaware River via Penn Beach.

Just as Mom taught me, I had my hat and gloves on braving the cold while trying to set up my tripod along the water. As I was about to bring the paints out, a little wave crested over the wall and splashed icy water in my face. Then the wind blew. At that point I decided two things. One, I believe that people who paint in conditions like this need to be put on medication. Two, I could not leave without painting, as it was on my schedule darn it, so I had to attempt a little art in my vehicle.

To say I was a little crammed in there with my supplies is an understatement. However, the heat blasting and the radio playing made it palatable. Surprisingly, despite the serious stiff shoulder I gave myself while wedged behind the wheel, I just about completed a nice little painting. The sky was blue and a weather front was approaching and I was determined to capture it with my brushes.

With 30 minutes left to complete the painting another wave hit and covered my windows with water. I couldn't see a thing. A big ship carrying automobiles passed and I knew the wake of that would bring even more moments like this, so I packed it up to finish at home. I set the timer and worked for less than an hour and signed my name. What a great day!

Next week I'll share with you what I did with the gobs of leftover paint I had on my palette. I am too cheap to throw it away. Also, stay tuned for the finish of the mare and foal portrait.

I'm off to get ready for the gallery reception tonight. Hope to see you there. Have a great weekend.

Monday, February 04, 2008

See Salem County - Art Reception

Harris Field by Levin
Old New Castle by Levin
"Grant's Field"
graphite sketch in Moleskine

"Old New Castle After the Wake"
graphite sketch in Moleskine

One of my favorite things to do is to sketch images in my Moleskine book that are uniquely Salem County. What this area lacks in night life it makes up for in views that touch my soul. Whether you like farms, rivers and ships or misty marshes, it is all here. When I take the time to draw these things I feel like I am recording something that someday could be gone. Develpments creep in and things change. There is a quiet solitude here that settles and centers me. It is easy sometimes to forget that when I get busy.

So if you would like to see images of Salem County through the eyes of local artists, come to First Impressions Art Gallery this Friday, February 8th, located at 157 W. Broadway, Salem, NJ. Call 856-935-7070 for more information. The reception is from 6-9 and there will be live music and plenty of food and wine. How can you pass that up? I will be there as well as many of the other artists. My marsh paintings and the last bovine piece will be on display. The new work is up on the walls now and already one of my marsh pieces has been sold. So please come out and say hello. Get your marsh paintings now, get them while they are hot, get them while they are marshy! (Pardon me, I sort of lost it there.)

Anyway, the top image was drawn during a cold weekend morning while watching a hawk watch me. Grant Harris, of Cowtown Rodeo fame, has quite a few fields of rough stock that also have interesting and moody looking landscapes. They are always good inspiration for my sketches.

The second image was created yesterday while looking out across the Delaware River at Old New Castle. At least I think that's the town I'm looking at. A rather large cargo ship went by and I sketched and watched the water and reflections change as the wake swelled and passed. Water makes me think of my own life how it never looks the same. You can watch the river all day and minute by minute it is different. I rather enjoyed watching the water become still again and appear to be as blue as the sky. I am greatly appreciating stillness everywhere.