"Breath"
24" X 30"
Acrylic on Canvas
by Stan Levine

When I paint on a canvas as big as this, I have to have a reason; I have to be inspired.  I have an archive of photos my wife takes from her Nikon that I go through when I need a reason to paint where I found a fantastic landscape of Mendocino's coast.  I like how the light travels through the painting along with the water.  There's something about it that makes me think of breathing in a meditative state. 
Before I painted "Breath," I began with a value study using cool gray ink markers. 


A Value Study for "Breath"
9" X 12"
Cool Gray Ink Markers on Acid Free Sketch Paper
By Stan Levine

The value study helps me to visualize what kind of painting I want to make.  It helps me to take apart the visual elements of the photograph, and rebuild them in a way that is a creative expression of my own.  Then, when I start the painting, I begin with value.  I mix variations of Mars Black and Titanium White to block in the light and dark shapes.  Once I get the composition going I  that I stand back to see how it's working.  Then I'm ready to take the next step.  I start adding in Cerulean Blue for the water, and add atmospheric light to the rock formations that are pointed towards the light, and Cadmium Red, and Transparent Burt Umber to form a purplish dark light that takes hold on the forms that turn to shadow. I keep my paints thin and watery in the beginning, and thicken it up towards the end to accent the elements I want to stand out strong. 
Painting is a process of communicating with nature in a non verbal language of color and light, form and shadow.  One must be receptive to emotion without letting it overtake you to insanity.  It is a delicate balance that only the true artist can master.