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she used to be a girl

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I dug through the cardboard boxes in my parents’ basement and found lost treasures. Girlhood artifacts. Dirty ponies. Chipped unicorns. Doll parts and doilies. This might have been what I was searching for all along.

I really enjoy their dingy condition. We age and so do our toys. I remember trying to pull combs through plastic hair and assembling a little girl altar of ceramic unicorns on my bureau.

Being able to play pretend is a super power that fades as we grow older. I recall being at an age where I became aware that I was losing it. I dove back into pretend play and tried to force myself to hold onto that magic. Sometimes I think it worked. Others, I grieve the loss.

Someone once told me that my heart still believes in things my head know aren’t real. Maybe that’s a large part of why and what I paint.

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Glitter craft paper, fake flowers and abandoned toys seem appropriate. It reflects a bit of how I see myself these days. Colors fade. Natural radiance is replaced with cosmetic grade mica flakes. The flow of blood is imitated with waxy pigments. It’s the natural course of things. It’s the hope for magic in the context of reality.

I am not speaking as a sad sack. I think these feelings and memories are important to explore.

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Unrequited

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Today I had an unwanted but important realization.

Painting and being unable to get down what you have in your mind feels a lot like unrequited love. It is unrequited love.

Painting badly is rejection. You pine for what’s out of reach. You want what you can’t have, but you keep trying and break your own heart, over and over again

You obsess, torture yourself and sob angry tears. You resent but your intense devotion doesn’t waver.

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I’m glad that I can’t blow up Painting’s phone with too many text messages after midnight, or that I can’t Facebook lurk Painting’s profile page to find out who they might be dating.

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Weird Home Philadelphia

elizabeth levesque paintings in progress

Another year, another move. I am just a day away from moving from Asheville, NC back to Pennsylvania, and in the midst of a snow storm no less. So what I really mean, is that I hope I am a day away from moving. I’m already delayed by several. Am I too old for snow now? I despise winter, and here I am moving further north. When younger I hated the heat of summer, but now I crave hot moonlit walks and feeling coated in a thin layer of sweat.

I’ll miss the hills, the river, the people I’ve met here and small town character of western North Carolina, but I’m also ready to leave. I’ve lived and learned a lot in just under three years. I’ve broken my own heart, rode love to tops of mountains and sunk into the deepest and darkest parts of my own insides. It’s time to go. It’s time to get going.

Asheville has changed me in some silly ways. I am now the type of woman who makes her own deodorant and skincare products. I wash my hair less often. I do my best to eat simple raw fruit and vegetables and now have a taste for duck meat. I’ll try to garden once I’ve nested and resist keeping my own chickens. I’m bringing some hippy back with me to Pennsylvania. I’m happy about these changes, but they still amuse me.

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I’m ready to head home, and Philadelphia will always represent home to me, or it will till I put out more permanent roots of my own.

I’ve been accepted to attend the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art this coming Fall. I’m excited and terrified! Half of my tuition has been covered by scholarships, so now I am on the hunt for more funding.

Museums, galleries, weird summer smells, pot holes, legit food and greasy concrete. I want it all back.

I will still be working long distance for artist and illustrator John Nebraska and looking for other works as well once I am settled in. If you have any tips I am eager to hear them.

I’ve also been working on a new batch of paintings, this time with alizarin crimson underpaintings. I can’t seem to keep myself interested in using more traditional colors. I’m not sure how successful they will be, but painting over intense underpaintings teaches me a lot about how colors interact with each other.

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treasures – art studio moments

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A lot has changed in a few short months. The most obvious change may be that my website is redesigned and now has an integrated store where my paintings can be purchased. I feel very good about it. It was time to clean things up. I’m learning more about wordpress, SEO and optimizing art portfolio sites, which leads me to the other changes.

I no longer work for Whole Foods Market as a store artist. I spent over two years there. When I moved to Asheville I knew very few people here. When I landed the job as a designer and chalk artist I didn’t just gain a job. I also gained a community. My store was nestled right up against downtown and in a busy neighborhood. I learned about my new city by working there, getting to know regulars and spending time with my coworkers. Change is good, but I am glad I spent that time there. It helped me create a home.

I am now spending more time in my art studio, writing articles, starting up a local sketch group and freelancing in social media marketing. I am helping other artists build an online presence, find new audiences and increase their sales. It’s pretty much what I already used to do for Jason quietly behind the scenes. It’s been fun. I like it. I want to continue this kind of work. I learn something new everyday to help others and myself.

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I’ve updated my portfolio with the help of a good friend with a good camera. If you check out the fine art section you will see photos of paintings I have completed the past two years. It feels good to share them. I like being able to look back on them and know that I’ve been moving in a direction this whole time of transition, heart ache and adventure.

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Ms. Ethel Levesque, my old lady calico, has joined me and Cat Chaplin in my little apartment. I am now a single woman with two cats. I’m okay with that. They are good company. I think the worst thing about it is Ethel has taught Chaplin how to open cabinets. He now paws them open and bangs the doors in protest if I am not providing him the kind of attention he wants and when he wants it.

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I’m learning how to manage my time to be more productive. It’s a weird thing to have time to work in my studio. I think it bewildered me at first, but now I’ve accepted my new circumstances and have started a new body of work! I am not the artist I want to be, perhaps I never will be. I am a firm believer that if you are always satisfied with the quality of your work, that might mean you have stagnated and are not progressing. That said, I am excited! I feel that I’ve broken some of my own barriers. I’m applying the lessons I’ve learned and am getting to watch myself create work a few steps closer to what I want it to be.

I’m not afraid of my art studio anymore. Does that sound weird? Has anyone else been afraid of being alone with their work?

Now that winter is here I find my work reflecting the cold decay of outside. I’ve gathered my little forest trash and treasures around me, all brown and dry and brittle, to tell new stories.