We are thrilled to have Donna Levinstone as our June Artist of the Month! Donna specializes in pastel landscapes that depict the essence and energy of environment rather than a specific location. Donna highlights the dualities that exist in the natural world: ethereal vs. earthly, light vs. dark, tranquility vs. volatility, and day vs. night. As a cancer survivor, Donna is also a part of our Still Life program.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a child, I always knew I wanted to be an artist. I remember drawing and constantly doing art since I was five years old. I would run to the door and pull out the cardboard from my father’s laundered shirts. I would use the cardboard to draw on, to collage on, and to build with.
Describe your art in one word.
One word that describes my work is meditative. My work creates light and space. I want the viewer to be able to have his own experience of a place once visited or a place one yearns to be in.
Tell me more about your choice of medium. How did you come to work with pastels?
I love working with pastels. They are perfect for blending and creating atmosphere. Using pastels for me is like painting with light.
Mountain Top Grid
Can you describe your creative process? What is an average day like in the studio?
I start by taping the borders of my drawing with removable tape. This allows for a clean white edge and speaks to the wonders of creating a piece of life next to a stark white border.
I usually decide what time of day I am portraying in my drawing, then I think about the subject – mountains, ocean, countryside, or a cityscape. The beauty of pastel is that it is very forgiving, so my work often transitions from one scene to another over one drawing session.
Duality is a key theme in your current body of work. What inspired you to pursue this in your art?
I often explore the dualities of life: a calm ocean versus a stormy sky, a dark sunset or the rising of a new day. My pastel drawings can be as small as 1″ x 1″ or as large as 30″ x 100.” Also, I work in black and white as well as in color…using one black pastel and one white pastel.
You are a part of our Still Life program. What impact has Still Life had on you artistically and personally?
Being a cancer survivor has helped me appreciate the beauty of nature and the gift that life is even more. I have always been in awe of the sky, and now I look at it as a source of hope and endless possibilities.
Where were you born and raised? How do you think that has influenced your creative growth?
I was born and raised in Manhattan. As a native New Yorker, I always yearned for greener pastures and more open skies, so I created them in my work!
What are you currently working on?
Currently, I am working on multiples in my work and exploring relationships between imagery. I am creating grids and triptychs where stories unfold in each separate frame.
A fun fact or two to share?
I am a member of The Cloud Appreciation Society.
John Constable said that the sky is the source of light in Nature, and it governs everything. He also said that the sky is the chief “organ of sentiment.”
I am very proud to have my work included this fall in the inaugural art exhibit at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
To learn more about Donna Levinstone and Still Life, click here.