Steven J. Levin was born in Minneapolis MN in 1964. His interest in art began early, when as a young boy, Levin would spend hours drawing alongside his father, a commercial artist. Recognizing his talent and interest, Levin’s father gave Steven many impromptu drawing lessons and tips, as well as instructional books to aid in his artistic development. After high school, with his mind fixed upon becoming an artist, Levin enrolled at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Having been keenly interested in the great American illustrators as a teenager, he was hoping to find a program that could develop his ability to draw and paint from life convincingly. He quickly realized that the courses offered were either insufficient, or more often completely useless to prepare him for a career as a realist artist. Agreeing with this assessment, his father helped him search out another option for his art training. The following year he enrolled at the newly opened Atelier LeSueur in Excelsior, MN.
The Atelier LeSueur was among several ateliers that were the artistic and scholastic offspring of what was known as the Boston School. This Boston School had originally comprised a group of highly influential artists and painters working in and around Boston in the late 19th and early 20th century, and included Edmund Tarbell, Frank Benson and William Paxton most notably. These artists had received their training in the ateliers of 19th c. Paris and following that their artistic vision and working methods were influenced by the advent of French Impressionism. Over the course of the next century, they and their students would open ateliers of their own, and thus the training and vision was carried on.
At the Atelier LeSueur, Levin was quickly immersed in a world that was rich in tradition, solid instruction, and which held to the idea that beauty and craft were the underpinnings of great art. The training consisted entirely of studio work under the direction of professional painters. Students drew and painted directly from life all day, five days a week.
The training began with cast drawing in charcoal to study the nuance of light and to develop the discipline of seeing nature in terms of line and tone. The students would then advance to more difficult subjects in color, such as still life, portrait, and the human figure. Concurrent with these pursuits was the study of life drawing to hone one’s ability to depict the human form in all its subtlety and complexity. Lectures in anatomy and on the principles of composition were also part of the program. Landscape painting, an important part of the Boston School tradition, was undertaken in the summer months.
Levin thrived in this new atmosphere and studied there for five years, following which he joined the teaching staff and remained on as an instructor for another seven years. He completed his studies with an extended stay in England to copy works in London’s National Gallery, another time-honored tradition for the classically trained painter.
Though trained in the Boston School tradition, Levin has undertaken a somewhat different direction and brought a unique point of view to his work. He cites the works of Jan Vermeer and Edward Hopper as among two of his strongest influences. His rich use of tone and finely honed eye for captivating compositions sets him apart from his contemporaries.
Levin has exhibited widely and been featured in prestigious group shows in San Francisco, New York, and Chicago as well as the Oglethorpe Museum in Atlanta, GA and the Arnot Art Museum in New York. He has been featured on the cover of American Artist Magazine and has also been the recipient of numerous awards and prizes in national competitions including: the American Society of Portrait Artists, the Allied Artists of America, the Portrait Institute, American Artist Magazine, the Artist’s Magazine, the Oil Painters of America and the American Artists Professional League. He is represented by the John Pence Gallery of San Francisco, Arcadia Gallery in New York, and Tree’s Place Gallery on Cape Cod.
Levin lives and works in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
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