How I got started painting
The year I turned 40 years old, I moved across the country – from San Francisco, CA to Montclair, NJ. I found my way to my first adult art class with Fern Bass, a wonderful artist and teacher who offered adult beginner classes in her backyard studio. Bass was interested in teaching us to see, to render accurately and to observe with intensity, but she was also concerned with the type of seeing that occurred with our eyes closed and the use of our non-dominant hand. She taught me to view the line on paper as an extension of my personal life force.
I studied with Fern Bass for two years and concurrently dove into painting in my home studio. I generated large scale paintings based on the sights, people and energy found on Montclair’s streets. I spent a day at the Human Needs Food Pantry in town and created a series based on the volunteers. One of these pieces, “Food Pantry Beauty” won the Montclair Times Townscape Contest and appeared as the featured cover of the Townscape Journal in May 2010. I also donated a similar large mural to the pantry, where it is now displayed in their main food distribution area.
My materials and process
Most of my artworks are created on wood. I live in a pre-war building on the main business district in town and scour our basement and neighborhood dumpsters for recycled surfaces on which to create my work. In the past year, I’ve used 50 bottles from a local bar, five window frames from the street, three wood desks from my apartment basement and countless wood planks from all over the neighborhood. I find the energy emitted from a discarded “canvas” speaks to me with a louder voice than one I buy new.
I create a piece based on the size and material of the canvas. I often have a feeling I’m working with, but I try to “clear out” my mind when I get down to painting. My materials are organized and at the ready – they include: acrylics, milk paint, pastels, oil sticks and india ink. I work with a large supply of collage elements, almost all of which are family documents. My grandfather Manny Levine’s discarded stamp collection, my other grandfather Anton Rolland’s sheet music, as well as letters and postcards saved from my own life and travels.
More images and information available upon request.