Renee Levin’s compositions sometimes read like musical notes; at other times like a single chord. They strike with singularity, as such commonplace findings - sea shells, for instance - are suddenly writ large, as on a 5’ x 4’ panel.
“I wanted the viewer to be forced to examine the details of the subject painted, get intimate with it, therefore scale allows me to do so,” she said. “Scale allows the textures to come forth along with celebrating the beauty of the subjects - the natural patterns, the beautiful lines and curves, sometimes reminding me of the feminine form.”
She considers her work still life, and the finished pieces belie her painstaking process. “Initially, I set up a photoshoot using shells from my found collection, creating compositions for the painting at hand. This is a very time consuming process as I want the composition to look natural but flow and please the eye. I can turn a shell 50 times in one-degree increments to get it right,” said Levin. “This process is worth it all as I believe the composition is a big draw to my work. The photoshoots also allow me to work with lighting to create dramatic shadow play. Once a composition is set, I use the photograph in combination with the actual shells, for those intimate details a camera does not catch, for reference when painting,” she said.
“I like to experiment with the arrangement of the object(s), creating a composition that feels right, with the perfect amount of negative space along with movement. However, when painting singular objects, it could very well fall into the portrait genre I suppose,” she said. “As a portrait glorifies a human, I do the same but with an object such as a shell, acknowledging my admiration for the subject.”
Levin selects shells based on their imperfections, shapes and patterns, and the shadows they cast, she said. Hinged clams are a favorite as they have character and create dramatic shadows. “The scallop has been catching my eye with its beautiful ribbed pattern, oysters with their textures and cracked whelks alike,” she said.
Combining polish with grit is a recurring theme in Levin’s work. “It is that juxtaposition that actually creates a harmony for me,” she said. It also turns up outside of the studio - in “my home, my clothing, pretty much anything I create.”
Friday, May 6th 2022 - Thursday, June 2nd 2022
Art Walk on Friday, May 6, 5:00 - 8:00 p.m.