Monday, November 23, 2009

Holiday Open House

wildlife painting by Lori Levin
acrylic on panel
Holiday Open House
December 5th & 6th
Saturday & Sunday 10-4
New originals with select prints and cards for sale.
Light refreshments will be served.

The holidays are right around the corner. Every week will be another reason to cook or bake treats. My holiday open house will be no exception. Though I spend most my time in the studio, this year I think I will push myself to make time for baking because I really do enjoy it.

Often I wonder about my priorities. I'm very driven by the desire to paint and to grow in my art. This weekend I saw the movie "Amelia" and my mind has been racing ever since. Amelia Earhart was in love with her dream to fly around the world. This passion was the reason for her every action. To be in the history books I do believe you need to be consumed by your vision to exclusion of all else. This can be seen by some as a very selfish way to live. However, others understand and find the commitment worthy of awe. Honestly, I'm not sure how I feel.

Sometimes I'm satisfied with a piece as I paint it only later to see its flaws. Other times I work on something and dislike it from the onset and only after I walk away do I appreciate its value. Never do I feel it to be perfect. Always I plan to do better the next time. Obviously I am a perfectionist. It can be a painful way to live if not kept under control but at the same time I don't see myself as having strong ambitions like Amelia.

Of all the things that I do artist is first on my descriptor list. Still, I have other interests and callings that keep me from being consumed by what I do in the studio. Sometimes I feel I'm not dedicated enough and other times I wonder if I need more balance in my life.

The holidays can be a time of stress or joy. It all depends on your priorities and how you handle them. Do you run around and get everything done at the expense of losing the joy of the season or do you take it slow and enjoy the little things like baking some cookies when you have a list of "shoulds"? I think the answer lies in the painting above.

The day I photographed that deer I was busily getting ready for an appointment when I noticed the snow coming down. I wanted to take pictures of the beginning of a snowfall and dropped what I was doing and ran out the door with my camera. Only a half of a mile down the road I saw the deer in my friend's yard. The scene was solemn and still. How sad if I would have missed it. Appointments are important but moments like that are priceless.

So, drop what you are doing on the 5th and 6th and stop by for a little holiday cheer. The studio will be warm and inviting with a lot of beautiful work and tasty treats. Alex Alampi's studio will be open too! He's only one mile away so you can enjoy an afternoon of art and good company without driving too much. Don't worry, that dirty floor of yours you need to clean will still be there waiting for you when you get back.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Getting Out

Salem County by Lori Levin "Canton View"
acrylic on panel
click to purchase

Everyone in this neck of the woods has been wondering what happened to the sun. After days of rain and a damp chill that made me want to stay in bed until spring, the sun is out today. Being nearly 70 degrees on this autumn day has brought everyone out of their homes to do yard work or to play. The birds that have been feasting at my feeders lately have taken a break to day and are enjoying this weather elsewhere. Brady, the studio dog, is resting on the studio porch waiting patiently for a squirrel chase. I am sitting here with the doors and windows open in my beautiful studio finishing up some loose ends after my long, enjoyable walk.

Everywhere I look I see paintings. It is almost maddening really. If I had the energy I could paint three paintings a day and not run out of things to paint. Luckily I'm not the only one that feels that way. Alex Alampi also sees the beauty down every one of these little country roads and invited me to paint outside with him. He thought it would be great to get out and challenge ourselves. I couldn't agree more.

Plein air painting is something I haven't done since 2007. I forgot how rigorous of a sport it was. Decisions have to be made instantly; confidence and concentration must be high. Failure is likely if you measure success by a finished product. Success is guaranteed if dusting off the cobwebs is your goal. No matter the outcome, painting outdoors and becoming one with the landscape is an education that shouldn't be missed.

I never had someone to paint with and I cannot begin to tell you what a treat it is. Marriage is tough but finding a suitable creative partner is nearly impossible. Once Alex and I find our place to paint we are like a well oiled machine. Neither of us has yet to walk away with a masterpiece but the value of our experience is immeasurable.

The above painting was started on our last jaunt around Salem County. Alex shared with me one of his favorite places in Canton. I felt like I was walking on holy ground. The wetlands surrounding the road were mesmerizing and peaceful. How lucky am I that I get paid to push paint around in the cool fresh air? We spent a good part of the afternoon working and I came home with this one halfway finished. I wouldn't call my efforts true plein air but beginning the painting outside instead of from a photograph makes a world of difference. In my opinion the work is more honest.

I have two new pet portraits on the drawing board and am desperately trying to finish an oil painting due for Christmas. However, the walls of Soulful Studios may have to be abandoned one more time this week to paint my neighborhood. Winter is coming and getting out will be more difficult. Or will it be?