Sunday, November 13, 2011

Being Seen


Custom Pet Portrait in Progress

Oil on Canvas

Never before did I appreciate art's ability to make me feel "seen". These days I am in contact with more people than ever before in my life. I am physically noticed by others hundreds of times a day, due to my day job. People like me. They feel helped and heard by me. This feels good. However, on the flip side, I feel completely invisible. At first this had a delicious quality to it. It was like performing on stage or playing dress up. There was no pressure or expectation. However, now it feels like my costume has become my uniform. A new identity is emerging and I just feel lost.

As I work on "Hansy" I become intimate with my old identity for brief periods. It is glorious and soul wrenching all at once. Now for those of you who follow Zen beliefs that warn against having an attachment to a surface identity, I know this is what I've been doing. I've preached against this in the past but obviously am not listening to my own sermon. My awareness keeps me from completely believing my own rubbish but does not kill the deep ache. Gandhi I'm not. Attachments I have. So be it.

If you've never painted I'm not sure I can tell you what it is like to watch colors blend and shapes form with a mere sweep of a brush. When all goes well it is like magic. The kind of magic I'm talking about is where you feel enough control to know you are holding the brush but you've let go enough to watch in amazement as images unfold like something greater than you was doing the work. I actually believe in those moments a higher power is involved. This to me is similar to the runner's high I used to get around mile 6 of a 7 to 10 mile run on a Saturday. It isn't a guaranteed experience but worth the effort to feel it just once an a while.

So stay tuned for the occasional high. These a fewer than ever before. Don't give up. They are still worth the wait.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Gift of Hansy

dog portrait by Lori Levin
pet portrait by Lori LevinBeginnings of 8x10 oil portrait.

It’s been a long time. I’ve heard from several readers expressing their concern over my well being. I was so surprised to find out how many people I’ve never met, regularly checked into Soulful Studios. Thank you to those who reached out. I am physically well and still giving others gray hair.

Emotionally I’ve been struggling. My life has changed yet again but this time my art couldn’t carry me through it all. At first it was an outlet but then it became frightening. Humans make connections to places, scents and tastes. Sometimes this is a good thing. Think of the smell of cotton candy. Where do you go? Other times it can have devastating results. Think of the smell of a musty basement or alcohol wipes. I was truly unaware of the associations I had made with the process of making art. Holding a brush surrounded by the aroma of oils and paints kept taking me to a place I no longer wanted to visit. Feelings would bubble to the surface that I had no desire to face. A soul can only take so much and finally I was flying the white flag. I put down my brush.

The fact of the matter is that the world really doesn’t care if you are screaming surrender. Life goes on with or without you. If you look like dead meat vultures will make a meal of you. While I watched the scavengers circle I was called to duty. A pet portrait was needed. This was no ordinary portrait but a proclamation of love. Love is something that I can never resist. So, again the brush was in my hand.

Above is the beginning of Hansel. Hansy’s “mom” was going through great loss and pain. As all good dogs do, Hansy stayed by her side to soften the grief. Dog’s can be selfless that way. They will absorb the pain of those they love. If you don’t believe this, try being with someone that has a heavy heart and walk away feeling light. It is impossible. Hansy had a noble purpose beyond also being comic relief. The man that commissioned this piece knows this and wanted to honor that and his love for Hansy’s “mom”. This is irresistible to me. The painting needed to be done.

Now I’m forced to face those feelings and find new connections. I’m pleased with the progress and thankful to be saved from myself one more time. I do believe being able to paint as I do is a gift and to let my easel collect dust is probably a sin. Creativity is not supposed to sit in the shadows. It is light and must shine or it becomes just another part of the darkness. I can’t let that happen. So until the sun shines brightly again, I’ll just keep lighting candles.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Dog Portrait - Jade

pet portrait by Lori Levin
Graphite on archival paper

Finally I can post my recent Soulful Studios dog portrait which was commissioned as a very thoughtful anniversary gift. This is "Jade". She is another loving pooch so thankful to be rescued and brought into a caring home. Loyal to her human dad, Jade has matured to become a sweetheart that gives back every single day. Sure she may have started out as a challenging addition to the family but like so many rescues, love cured all for her.

Do you know a great dog and want to honor him or her with a portrait? Mother's Day is fast approaching and commissioning a portrait of Mom's favorite furry child is a great way to say how much you love her. The process is easy. Just go onto the contact page of my Soulful Studios main site and send me a request for information. Gather a few photos and we'll choose together the best pose and that's it. Hope to hear from you.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Plein Air Plight Or Delight

plein air painting by Lori Levin
"Saturday Morning Bench Sitting"
acrylic on panel

With new and very tiny paint box in hand, Brady and I ventured to the little pond across the street to do some plein air work. As we stepped out the door I must admit I was ready to turn around. 29 degrees is a bit cold for me to sit in one place for very long. However, my goal today was to complete a small painting outside without adding anything to it once I returned to the studio. My guess was that the brisk air and the bone chilling breeze would just make me work that much faster. Brady and I were not to be denied.

Now I know that there are plein air painters that can withstand snow and sleet to paint. I will admit to you that though I love art, I hate the cold more. Brady and I walked around the pond and checked out the view from both sides where there were benches. Neither view was outstanding but both were peaceful. We chose the spot that provided the greatest warmth from the sun. I just refused to suffer.

Quickly we got to work. Brady found a stick to chew and another dog at which to growl. I found pleasure in the trees that framed the scene across the pond. I worked with six of my new Golden Open Acrylics and was quite pleased with how they handled. To keep to my promise to work quickly and freely I used a large brush and did not sketch anything out. No guts no glory.

To my surprise I barely felt cold. I was in the moment and it was heaven. Colors sang with the birds while light flickered over the water. This was living. Just as I realized I could no longer feel my thumb the painting was finished. At that point I unleashed my tiny brush that was reserved purely for my signature. Brady and I packed up and floated home.

As I returned to civilization I watched people walking while talking on their cell phones and barely even noticing the bright blue of the sky. I was so thankful that for the past hour or so when I was totally one with my surroundings and even created something to mark the day. How blessed am I?

If you'd like to purchase this or any other painting please visit my Soulful Studios website, go to the Contact Lori page and send me an email for information. Enjoy your weekend everyone.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Doberman Dog Portrait - Max and Maya - Update

Doberman Dog Portrait by Lori Levin
Spring is finally here and they are calling for a little March messiness tomorrow. I've been busy working on several small pet portraits that are surprise gifts so I cannot post them yet. Those will be posted as the recipients get the chance to enjoy their pet portraits. Meanwhile I thought I would share the progress of Max and Maya's dog portrait painting in oil.

As you can see, I have mostly completed Max and will now start on Maya. As I get her closer to finish I will then add final touches of color and detail to make everything sing. I do tend to go to details early because I enjoy watching things come to life quickly. I always have to fight myself not to do that too quickly so as to focus on structure. However, sometimes it is great to eat dessert first!

Soon Soulful Studios will take it to the outdoors again to do some plein air paintings. There's a blue heron at a local pond that I'm dying to at least capture with the camera. I wonder if I can't paint fast enough to suggest him on the spot. Oooh, I think I see a challenge...

Monday, March 07, 2011

Say Goodbye to Winter

Landscape Painting by Lori Levin"The Last of Winter 3"
5" x 7"
Acrylic on Canvas

This weekend we push our clocks forward an hour. I can remember years ago when we had a major snow event in April. My gut says that won't be happening this year. That being said please don't email me angry letters if I'm wrong.

I look at these geese paintings and think how peaceful that day was but at the same time there is some dishonesty here. Yes, this was the scene before me and it was charming and serene. What I didn't show was what happened next. If I were to do another painting from this day, it would depict geese frantically flying away from a very excited little grey dog. Any guesses on the name of this dog?

Perhaps the lesson here is nothing is permanent. Take your pleasures while you can. You never know when some sweet little dog is going to chase away your bliss.

Stay tuned to Soulful Studios for updates on more pet portraits and spring paintings. Send me an email through the website for more information on these or other paintings. Feel free to leave a comment on the blog to let me know what you think.

Friday, March 04, 2011

A Little More Winter

Fine Art by Lori Levin
"The Last of Winter 2"
Acrylic on Canvas

Winter is coming to a close. Even the cold days aren't as bad because the ground holds more warmth from the sun. Nature is waking up and getting busy.
I thought I would do a few more paintings about winter before it slips away for another year. Yes, I am ready for spring and the refreshing feeling that comes with it. This is just my final farewell to the snows of 2011.

If you are interested in this or any of my other paintings please go to the Soulful Studios contact page and send me an email.

Have a great weekend.