Monday, January 26, 2009

Sketching Salem County

Barn by Lori Levin "January Afternoon"
sketch in moleskine
Tree by Lori Levin "That Guy's Tree"
sketch in moleskine

Trying to build a studio yourself is a slow process. It is sucking up much of our free time. The electric is now in and drywall is next. There is talk of a studio tour through Salem County in May. I hope I am ready. There will be another reception at First Impressions Art Gallery in Salem on Friday, February 13th. My recent small works will be available there.

I've been seeking new places in Salem County to sketch. Now that I no longer live near the water I am looking for that perfect place that I can paint over and over again. The above sketches were done as part of my quest for my new favorite haunt. I have a feeling when the studio is done I will mostly want to paint the view outside the window but until then I'm looking for something new.

Every time I sit in the car with my moleskine and sketch it is always like a special event. While I drew the barn scene, a man in a truck pulled over twice to make sure I was ok. The first time was on his way to the store and the second was on his way back. It is nice to know chivalry is not dead. Then when I was parked across the street from the old tree, a man ran out from his home over to my car with a look of suspicion on his face. Perhaps he thought I was staking out the joint. I rolled down the window and showed him my sketchbook and he exclaimed, "That's my tree! That is so beautiful!" Then suddenly his 5 dogs ran out into the middle of the road with a big truck barreling towards them. I gasped and he raced in time to shoo them away. I can see the headline now. "Pet Portrait Artist Kills 5 Dogs, Owner Suing." Life is certainly not dull even if I'm not painting pet portraits.

Soulful Studios would like to give a "shout out" to Canine Partners for Life for yet another great evening. Joel and I attended the wine tasting event at the Hilton Garden Inn last week and had a blast. There was food, music and of course wine. We had the opportunity to see our friends Jennifer and Janie as well as give some love to great dogs in training. Don't forget to check out the website to find out about the wine auction. It is an amazing time that shouldn't be missed!

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Winter Cold and Andrew Wyeth

Distant Barn by Lori Levin "Distant Barn"
acrylic on panel

The cold of the winter has finally set in. It will be only 8 degrees tonight. Perhaps that is a heat wave if you live in Minnesota but not here in New Jersey. I'm not a big fan of winter. One or two good snows I find beautiful and cozy. After that I'm left feeling rather bleak and ready for spring or a good vacation. This painting was done from the sketch in my last post. It speaks of my general feelings about this season.

As I painted, I was thinking about my last trip to the Brandywine River Museum. That is one of my favorite haunts. During my college years I was very influenced by the works of N.C. Wyeth. As I get older I am more influenced by Andrew and Jamie. Andrew Wyeth passed away today at the age of 91.

I feel it appropriate to mention his work in this post because often his art represented the starkness of winter. As often as I can, I read up on the Wyeth family because I learn so much from them. Andrew painted to sort things out in his own life. He had much to deal with if you read about his upbringing and family betrayals. It seems so many artists draw from difficult times in their lives to fuel their art. I relate to the desire to distill one's work down to its essence. More and more I want to take the less is more approach. Andrew Wyeth certainly had that well worked out.

What I find interesting is that the art community hasn't always been kind to the Wyeth family. Many critics have commented that his work was not fine art but mere illustration. I'm not sure if I've ever understood the difference and take offense to the statement as I was an illustration major in college. I've come to peace with criticisms like that by telling myself that the people that do all the talking don't do the painting. Critics don't create value they create words.

The passing of Andrew Wyeth gives me much to think about. Don't get me wrong, Soulful Studios is not abandoning pet portraits. Currently I'm working with clients getting their ideas together. I'm trying to hold off on new pet portraits until the new studio is finshed so my flow isn't interrupted as I find that so frustrating. Lately I have been focusing on narrowing my vision and getting to the bones of my subjects. Take time to read up on the Wyeths. Have a glass of wine as you do because their lives read like a major movie drama.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Settling Into 2009

Distant Barn by Lori Levin "Distant Barn"
graphite sketch in moleskine

This sketch is the view from the French doors of my soon to be new studio. If I sit quietly there, I see so many different types of birds, many squirrels and even the occasional buck sneaking by. I am so excited about having this very special space. It is being built with such love and care and that feeling will carry into my work for certain. Much of the holiday was spent working on the studio when we were not with family and friends or of course eating.

So much has happened in the past two years that I am basically just trying to settle into 2009. I'm trying to take it easy and just catch up to myself. This week I have to get back to working on the many pet portrait jobs and commissions I have waiting. I feel more refreshed and focused and this will help with my art.

I wish everyone peace and good health in 2009.