Artist’s Spotlight – Stephanie Levy

I have to say that I’ve loved doing this feature and all of the artists included thus far, but I must say that this particular interview is close to my heart. Today’s Artist’s Spotlight features collage artist and e-course leader extraordinaire, Stephanie Levy. I’ve followed Stephanie’s work and have been a participant in her e-courses for about two years now. I’ve greatly admired her work and her generosity, so I was overjoyed when she agreed to do this interview. Enjoy this fresh and inspiring interview with Stephanie, one of my art heroes 🙂
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Roaring Out: How long have you been creating art and in what types of media?
Stephanie Levy: I began studying Fine Arts at the university when I was 18. I’ve worked in all sorts of media, from painting and watercolor, to collage, jewelry, ceramics, photography, and sculpture.
a+a.berlin400RO: What first inspired you to art?
SL: I was one of those kids who was always drawing and painting and making books. And I guess I just never stopped!

RO
: What types of media are your current favorites and why? Is there a different type of medium that you would like to try in the future?
SL: Now I mostly work in mixed media collage and photography. Actually, I’m pretty happy with this combination, but I would like to create books in the future that combine my collage art, photography, and writing. This is my personal dream!

RO
: Could you please talk a little about your creative process?
SL: I mostly work very intuitively and I’m often inspired by specific materials or colors that catch my eye. I usually work on small series of collages at one time, maybe 3-4 collages at one time, or sometimes larger series of 6 or 9. I like to listen to music when I’m creating visual art, but when I’m writing, I need quiet and a peaceful, cozy atmosphere. To make my photographs, I love walking around Berlin and taking snapshots of the beautiful and absurd things that I notice. That is one of my favorite creative activities at the moment (maybe because it gets me away from the computer and outside 😉 ).
30daysofcollage1RO: Most artists have subjects that pop up again and again in his or her work. What are those subjects for you? Is there a different subject you’d like to tackle in future work?
SL: For years I worked on drawings and collages of interiors. Before that I worked on chairs. I tend to enjoy drawing still lives and objects more than people or animals. That is actually the same when I’m taking photographs too.
I would like to do more abstract collage and painting work in the future 🙂
stephanielevy.journalRO: What is the longest time you’ve spent on a piece of art?
SL: It depends on how you define that. I usually need a few days to a couple of weeks for a collage, but there have also been times when I’ve been frustrated with a painting and I’ve just painted it white and started over. Which obviously delays things…

RO
: You are originally from the United States, but you now reside in Germany. How has that transition informed your artwork?
SL: I’m not sure how my move to Germany has influenced my artwork because it was so long ago, already 18 years. Most likely I’m a different person in Europe than I would be had I stayed in Tennessee. But I do love Berlin, and I truly enjoy taking photographs here. The city is so fascinating and creative and vibrant and changing—I don’t think I could ever get tired of living here and documenting what I see through my photographic walks. Berlin as a place has become a central feature of my artwork and life!

RO
: Your Creative Courageous e-courses have become very popular! Please talk a bit about what inspired you to create these sessions. Also, your sessions involve so many wonderful goodies, like recipes and interviews. How do you go about preparing a session? Lastly, what is your favorite part about running these e-courses?
chickpea.spinach.soup480SL: Thank you, Michelle! I love putting together my Creative Courage e-courses, and the new year long course, Creative Courageous Year, is so much fun because it is so multidisciplinary. I myself enjoy the changing seasonal aspect of the course, and it makes me happy to create new recipes and projects for our wonderful international group.
Preparing involves a lot of brainstorming, some reading and research into beloved books and notes that I’ve gathered through the years, and then actually preparing and documenting the recipes, projects, photos, and other materials for the course. It is a lot of work, certainly not boring, and a true labor of love.My favorite part about the courses is seeing the connections made by the women around the world who are taking the course, and when I get positive feedback from someone who has enjoyed a course, it honestly makes my day!

stephanielevy_raspberry.lemon.tart

RO
: You are a woman who does it all! E-courses, artwork, and family, to name just a few. The audience, particularly the ladies, would like to know: how do you make time for everything? In other words, how do you do it all?
SL: The real truthful answer is: I don’t! I believe in our online world, sometimes other people’s lives look more fulfilled, organized, and/or “perfect” than they really are. I do a lot—but there is always more that could be done 🙂 I have unanswered emails in my inbox, laundry that needs to be folded, drawers and closets that need to be organized, bills that need to be paid—just like everyone else. Some days I’m better at getting these everyday things done, and other days I’m terrible.
berlin.sept2.400I think we’re all just plugging along, doing the best we can, and it is important to take time for our real life contacts—as well as our online ones. It can be a lot to juggle, and it is something I struggle with. I’m also learning that you can never make everyone you know 100% happy all of the time. It is impossible. So it’s important to set your own priorities and then go with that. This year, I’m making plans to begin delegating more responsibilities—with taxes and housework for example. I tend to try and do everything myself, and there are just not enough hours during the day. So I’m trying to learn to be less of a perfectionist, to let go and to let others help me out 🙂 It’s a process!

RO
: If you could spend an evening with any artist, living or deceased, who would you choose and why?
SL: Hmmm, that is an interesting question. I would choose Ernest Hemingway because he was also an American who loved living in Europe—and we share the same birthday, July 21st. I know Hemingway was a big macho and womanizer, but I do love his writing and he had a lot of great artist friends. I imagine hanging out with him for an evening in 1920s Paris would be quite an adventure!berlin.sept2.400

RO
: Is there anything handmade that you own that is particularly meaningful to you?
SL: Yes, I have a few handmade quilts made by my Aunt Pearl in Tennessee that I love dearly, and I now happily have these in Germany with me 🙂

RO
: If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
SL: Time travel and the ability to beam myself wherever I’d like in an instant—for sure!!
berlin.400.june2RO: To conclude, what is a lesson you have learned from creating art that you would like to share with others?
SL: The main lesson that I’ve learned from life and from creating art is: just do it! Make whatever it is you want to make, do whatever you want to do now—and without hesitation. Two of my favorite quotes are:
“Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand—and melting like a snowflake.” —Marie Beynon Ray

and

Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future, act now, without delay.” —Simone de BeauvoirStephanie, thank you so much for generously sharing your process and experiences with us today! If you’d like to check out Stephanie’s work, visit her website, blog, e-course website, and Berlin workshop website. If you’d like to keep up with Stephanie’s exciting happenings, sign up for her newsletter.

Kicking the Bucket: Things I’d Like to Do Before I Die

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, this is the second article on the theme of bucket lists.  I  found my list a little overwhelming, so I broke it up into age categories to make it a little more manageable (at least in my mind!).  Here are a list of things I would love to do before I hit certain ages.
Hot Air Balloon

Hot Air Balloon (Photo credit: Eric Lim Photography)

Before 30
  • Act in an off-Broadway play
  • Build my own study/studio (I love books and art and wide open spaces.  For more of an idea of what I mean, check out the Pinterest photo album I’ve dedicated to this dream.)
  • Get my first tattoo
  • Get my motorcycle license
  • Get tattooed with my mom (We’ve had a sort of pact that we’d both get tattooed on her 50th birthday, which is fast approaching.  I guess I should think up a design…)
  • Go rock climbing
  • Go skinny dipping
  • Have a picnic in Central park (basket, wine, the works!)
  • Have coffee (or hot chocolate) with Don Miller (I know the saying goes, “Never meet your heroes.”  I’m willing to take the hit on this one.)
  • Learn to play guitar proficiently (I define this as being able to read the music and pick up the tune easily.  I’ve started taking guitar classes, so I’m on my way!)
  • Learn to use a sewing machine
  • Make Cheetara costume (as you’ll see in tomorrow’s post, I’ve dressed up for conventions a few times.  I want to go with a few people to a convention as the Thundercats at some point.)
  • Ride a zip line
  • Run a successful Etsy shop (I define this as 5 or more sales per month in both Roaring Out and Lady Velociraptor)
  • See a Broadway musical (My mom took me to one when I was a baby, so that doesn’t really count)
  • Take a dance class
  • Take a hot air balloon ride
  • Take a road trip where the only parameter is to get back home before I run out of money
  • Take part in a writing residency
  • Try frisbee golf
  • Visit Portland, Oregon
  • Visit Spain
  • Write a fan letter to Jason Statham and see if he responds
flamer

flamer (Photo credit: olaerik)

Before 35

  • Adopt a chimp
  • Fly an airplane
  • Get married
  • Go on a missions trip
  • Gut a fish
  • Have my photography published in a magazine or book
  • Have one or two kids
  • Have publication credits from at least 10 different lit mags
  • Make my own beer
  • Publish my first book
  • Raise $5,000 to drill a well with LiquidWater.com
  • Swing from a chandelier
  • Take a hot air balloon ride
  • Travel to Israel
  • Try blowing glass or working with hot glass
  • Visit Montreal
  • Visit the Globe Theatre in London
  • Walk away from an explosion in slow motion (like the movies!  or Gangnam style)
Flamenco culture is native to Andalusia.

Flamenco culture is native to Andalusia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before 40

  • Be in a band
  • Be in at least one episode of a favorite TV show of mine (preferably Dr Who, but I’d be cool with Supernatural, too)
  • Flamenco dance in Spain
  • Maintain a regular exercise routine (not necessarily go to the gym, but maybe still spar and such)
  • Make my own wine in Napa Valley
  • Read a book a week and write a review for each (I finished a 25 @ 25 photo challenge earlier in the year.  Perhaps I can do a 40 @ 40 book review challenge…)
  • Read at a Poetry reading where I am the headliner
  • Ride a gondola in Italy
  • Swim with dolphins
  • Visit all 50 states (alternately, have sex in all 50 states. A friend of mine mentioned that she had done this and it sounded like a fun, unique challenge 😉 )
Laurel wreath

Laurel wreath (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before 50
  • Become Poet Laureate of the state I’m currently living in
  • Make a habit of traveling abroad each year

I must give credit where credit is due.  I would not have written out a bucket list were it not for the blogs of these two lovely ladies: Lesley Carter and Julie

Check out their blogs.  They do some pretty incredible stuff 🙂

What is one item on your bucket list?

Poetry, Cobblestone, and My Orange Shirt: A Weekend in Massachusetts

Poetry can be a solitary task what with all the writing and revising and talking to your raven.  So two weekends ago, I decided to volunteer at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival in Salem, MA.  The festival was headed by a friend of mine and I was happy to help out.  The weekend started with the nearly 5 hour drive up after work on Friday.  The drive was actually pretty relaxing and I saw some really great scenery.

On Saturday, I spent the early part of the day directing volunteers and poets to check in and get their shirts, like this one!

I did get to spend some time volunteering outside in the beautiful weather.  After my shift was over, I walked around Salem and took some pictures of the scenery.

It’s funny what you’ll see around town.  This is probably the most uplifting (and literary based) “graffiti” I’ve ever seen in a bathroom stall.

Afterwards, I attended the panel “Enduring Song,” led by my friend, Monica Hand.  She and Katie Rushin spoke of African-American poets and their link to song and singers.  I didn’t take pictures there since it was a small venue and it would’ve been distracting.

After the panel, all of the volunteers and poets were invited to a reception with yummy food, live music, and great company.

After dinner came the headline poetry reading, featuring Joy Harjo, Nikky Finney, Sherwin Bitsui, Wesley McNair, and Susan Cattaneo.  Here are some shots I took from the night:

I headed home the next day after a full weekend.  All in all, it was a fun experience that melded the practice of writing poetry with action!

Want to see more shots of my time in Massachusetts?  You can check out the Flickr gallery here!