Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I Wish I Were Me

Lori Levin
Yup, that's me folks speaking about art last night at the Salem County Art League. Bob Reid was kind enough to make this montage of me. I appreciate that he picked photos without me showing more than one chin! Oh it was a real hootenanny alright. I'm not quite sure what I said but at one point my famous Zuni Indian fetish necklace lost a critter. That was a crowd pleaser for certain.

Seriously though, at times I felt like I was two people, one was speaking and the other was hovering listening to the presentation. Please don't send the men in white jackets. What I'm saying is that I heard what I was telling the group and for the most part it was a positive message. So many more things I wish I shared but my talk focused on what motivates an artist. I was told I had a lot of energy and was inspirational . Could that be? Often times alone in my studio I question the value of what I'm doing. There are days I am ready to set fire to my work and think a regular paycheck would be a more prudent move.

Then there are moments where I see a hint of brilliance or someone thanks me for teaching them a new technique or idea . I tell myself just for that it is all worth it. Being an artist requires a great deal of faith. You need to believe that no matter what, this is what you were meant to do. If you depend on praise or big bank accounts for affirmation you will starve in more ways than one. Doubt will cause more pain than empty pockets. Interestingly enough, if you believe, don't waste energy on the negative and put everything into your art, you are more likely to be outwardly rewarded. If you neglect the importance of the inner reward, nothing will save you.

These are wise words my friends.

I like that me.

I strive to be me.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pet Portraits in Oil

Work in Progress
Dog Portrait
Oil on Canvas

Postcard for Gallery 50

Gallery 50's "Nature and the Landscape" show was a success. I won an award for best oil or acrylic and my good friend Alex Alampi won "Best of Show". As you can see we shared the postcard, so to share the night's awards was a plus. There were some very fine pieces at this show and it was an honor to receive any recognition.

Above is my current work in progress. Those of you who have visited my studio have seen this one develop and it still has a long way to go. This is a very poor photograph so the color is off and the image is cut but it gives you an idea of what I'm doing. I had certain things in mind for this piece and it hasn't gone according to plan. There is no area currently on the painting that is finished and the paint is thin and the strokes are tight. My desire is to loosen up on this as it has gone a bit to the slick side. Generally it is difficult to get loose once you tighten up but I still think I can do it. My plan is to not look at photo reference for a few sessions and go with my gut in terms of stroke and color. To try that now is a bold move but for the sake of the art it must be done.

In terms of doing my job as a pet portrait artist I am on target with this painting. However, when one looks at this piece purely from a fine arts standpoint the piece needs help. Many pet portrait artists are only concerned about how their work stands up to likeness and realism. This is never an issue for me and I feel blessed for that reason. What I challenge myself with all the time is to create commission work that stands alone as a piece of fine art. This portrait of dogs is not there yet but I'm no where near done.

Finishing this piece is paramount to my health. I believe this may be one of the last oils I do. Since I've been working on this piece I've been in a great deal of pain and have been quite ill. My body no longer tolerates the toxins from oils. I've been struggling with this issue for years and believe the problem is more than I can handle now. I'm trying not to be sad or scared about the loss of my precious oils but rather excited about focusing on the possibilities with acrylics and other mediums.

My smaller works are always acrylics for this reason but I've never done pet portraits or larger pieces using them. Recently texture and a more painterly look interest me. I look to the daily painter groups for inspiration. Ideas swirl in my head about changes and new approaches. My next post will share some of those ideas with you so do come back soon to Soulful Studios.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The Sweet New Year of Art

One by Lori Levin "One"
acrylic on panel
email to purchase

I'm not sure many of my readers know that I am Jewish. Though I feel that spirituality and religion have little to do with each other, I do enjoy the rituals of my faith. September brings in Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. This is not a time for champagne and confetti but rather a time for reflection and renewal. We look at our lives, make amends and positive changes. Optimism is the focus as we wish each other a sweet new year.

This year I take this concept very seriously. Much happened over the summer to shake up my world. Let's just say the turkeys are trying to get me down. The details aren't important but the need for a new direction is clear. At first I was unsettled and frankly disheartened but then something interesting happened. Slowly I felt a building of desire and the excitement of a challenge that I hadn't felt in a long time. It's sink or swim time, guess which one I'm picking?

The above painting is a good example of this paradigm shift. Texture was always something I adored in art but my work had little. Obvious ways of adding texture never worked for me. Boredom was setting in and this was dangerous. Instead of continuing with the obvious route I took a chance and added texture on top of my under-painting and then washed tone on top of that. This could have destroyed the entire work. Instead it filled me with wonder and allowed the colors painted on top to find their own place to sit. It was as if "One" had a life of its own making decisions without me. Creation became mysterious once again. A new year began.

"One" has been entered into Gallery 50's current show that opens this Friday night. In Soulful Studios' world it has already won a prize. Let's see if the judges agree.