Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Holiday Card Horse Painting

Horse Art by Lori Levin "Distant Light"
acrylic on panel

Holiday time is fast approaching. Despite last year's resolution, I am once again behind on everything. I vowed to have my holiday card painting finished in October so that I wasn't running around last minute like a chicken with my head cut off. Well, Frank Perdue will be looking for me because I'm a big old hen. Yesterday I completed this year's image so if you don't get your card until after New Year's Eve don't think you were put last.

So many life changes have happened in the past 2 years and especially in the most recent 6 months. I'm finally starting to catch up to myself and now I feel the flow with my art coming back. Last week I celebrated my 39th birthday. Making up for lost time, the festivities went from Thursday until late Sunday night. There are still a few people that I need to meet up with and share some of the joy. Dinners out, gifts of love, a winter walk through Longwood Gardens and moments spent just enjoying the day were some of the things I enjoyed.

Perhaps you are wondering why I'm mentioning all of this and have yet to comment on the painting above. Well, as I become more settled in my life and feel secure with the wonderful changes, I see my palette becoming more subdued. It is as if the confidence I have in my personal life is now apparent in my art as I don't feel the need to impress anyone with my ability to use many colors. Instead, I feel free to create a painting with only 4 or 5 hues and with less "showmanship". My quiet insides are showing in my personal rainbow.

This post cannot be complete without giving a big thank you to Jennifer K. of Canine Partners for Life for taking the original photo that inspired this painting. She is a dear friend and has provided so many images that have helped me make beautiful paintings. Thank you from the bottom of my heart Jennifer!

Before the year is out I will have a few more updates for Soulful Studios. This weekend the new studio will receive some love. The horse painting was created in my fiance's office which I have recently taken over and will be a place I work sometimes for a few months. New and exciting things will happen in 2009. I feel like I've only just begun my art career. The best is yet to come.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Golden Retriever Dog Portrait - Buster - Finished

Golden Retriever dog portrait by Lori Levin
Golden Retriever Photo by Lori Levin



graphite on paper

Never has a pet portrait that has gone so well from beginning to end taken so long to complete. I'm pleased with the finish and I enjoyed every moment working on this piece. Above is the original photo provided so you can judge for yourself how successful it is. As I mature I find that I want to stylize these more and push the parts of the image that stand out as the key characteristics of the dog portrait. With each piece I get closer to the ideal for which I'm striving. Since my 39th birthday is only a week away, I figure another 30 years of doing this I'll be getting good. That would make 60 years of art coming from my hands. From my mouth to God's ears it should be true.

One reader mentioned to me she appreciated that I include the process in my blog. Sometimes I've questioned that decision but I wanted to make it clear why art costs what it does. Often folks think it is by magic that a beautiful piece of art appears. Nothing could be farther from the truth, at least not here at Soulful Studios. Let's just say I love what I do but I have to do my homework and put my time in.

My good friend Alex Alampi asked me a question on the day we were both doing demos for the public. He asked how I knew when a piece was done? This is such a good question because so often knowing when to stop is the key to success. Pencil is something that I find gets very stale looking easily. Some may think it forgiving because you can erase it but I disagree. Pencil marks change the integrity of the paper and in order to keep it fresh one has to make a mark and be sure of it and leave it alone. Only gently lifting the graphite from the paper is recommended, fully erasing is not. Perhaps that is very similar to his water color process. If you are not familiar with his work, this weekend is a good time to check it out. Saturday and Sunday he is holding an open house at his studio. His wife Dot always has goodies on the table so make sure you don't miss it. I know I won't.

I just want to take time to thank everyone for the kind condolences about Gracie. There is no doubt that my readers know me well and know when I need a little cyber-hug. Thank you again, it really helped.

See you next week with what should be the beginnings of my holiday card. I'm running out of time. Oops.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Beginnings and Endings and Pet Portraits On Hold

Lori Levin's Studio
Lori Levin's Studio
Lori Levin's Studio I hope all my readers in the U.S. had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We enjoyed an 18lb turkey with a total of 14 loved ones at the table and everything was beyond yummy and joyful. However I'm sure you've noticed that in the time I've been on Blogger I've not gone this long without a post. Usually I can write and work through anything but this time I was at a loss.

Often my clients come to me after their beloved furry companion has passed away for their pet portrait. As we go over photos, they usually cry a little and we share pet stories. The process is very cathartic for most and they leave happy to have shared. It has occurred to me that perhaps my bigger talent is not the art but my ability to empathize with my clients. Sometimes people just need to be heard to feel a little better. I am always happy to be there and listen.

This time I'm the one crying over the loss of a pet. Sadly, despite all efforts otherwise, I had to have Miss Gracie put to sleep a few weeks ago. It was agonizing to make that decision but it had to be made nonetheless. I learned that sometimes the right choice doesn't always feel good. There isn't a day that goes by that I wish it didn't have to be that way. She was such a good dog in so many ways. She was my canine companion and the studio mascot. Nothing seems the same without her and I miss her brindle butt so much. This is the first time in my adult life that I am without a pet. It feels unnatural and cold.

My only hope is that this makes me a better pet portrait artist. I've worked on Buster's portrait a little and I do see an improvement in my vision and decision making. However, my work has stopped temporarily because looking into another dog's eyes and trying to render "his soul" is far too excruciating at the moment. My work usually brings me pleasure but right now it only makes me cry. Writing this is difficult and probably reading it is no joy either. So, for the moment I'm taking a break. I will have Buster's dog portrait finished by the end of the week most likely and will post it then. Other than that I am focusing on beginnings instead of endings to help me gather myself.

Above are photos of the beginnings of my new studio in Pilesgrove. The little garage is being converted into my work place. Originally it had a regular garage door until Joel installed the new French doors. The wood will be painted white with trim added when it becomes warmer. Also, a porch will be added onto the front so that I can enjoy the lovely view even more. The second photo is the view that I speak of. It is where the sun sets and the sky is just gorgeous there in the evenings. Joel and his good friend Dave are seen in the third photo installing one of my three windows. It was so good of Dave to sacrifice his Saturday for my benefit. I was truly touched. Those windows will allow the precious Northern light to illuminate my work. Outside those windows the bushes have been trimmed down and bird feeders and a bird bath will be put in because we have an amazing array of different birds that come to visit. Don't be surprised it you see me starting to paint cardinals and warblers since they are always in view. The new studio should be finished by spring and I cannot wait. It will be celebrated with an open house event and lots of work for sale. Stay tuned for more photos of the progress.

Speaking of events, make sure you check out the Open House at Alex Alampi's studio this Sat. and Sun. December 6th and 7th. Alex and Dot create a real holiday feel with their lovely home and the goodies on the table. Alex's art is amazing and it is very informative to see where he works. This is a great opportunity to invest in his watercolors as he is offering work at 10% off for this event. His paintings are highly collected with many repeat buyers making it a good bet that owning an "Alampi" is a worthy investment.

Finally, thank you to my family and friends who have been there for me during this difficult time. I couldn't have made it through without you. The healing has begun I do believe and I look forward to being productive again very soon. Please stop back shortly to see the finish of Buster's pet portrait. Thank you all for your understanding.