Hometown: Hollis, New Hampshire
Current town: Portland, Oregon
Job description: Visual Artist
Alex graduated with a BFA in painting from the University of Oregon in 2011. She is in the process of applying to graduate school, and plans to get her MFA in painting. She currently works as a painter, a teacher, and an art supply store manager.
Working on album artwork for the band Human Ottoman, from Eugene, OR.
Describe your work.
I often work in series, creating bodies of work that address my current interests. My work is experimental and abstract. I work in two and three dimensions, developing my style as a traditional painter while also pushing the parameters of what defines a painted canvas. My three-dimensional work bridges the gap between sculpture and painting, and is hard to categorize.
The expressiveness of color relationships is a prevalent theme throughout most of my work. I enjoy studying color theory and approaching my compositions with color at the forefront of the design, I’ll never tire of trying to find weird and interesting color relationships.
The idea of the paradox is another current theme I’ve been working with, using the objecthood of a stretched canvas to question the relationship between the structure and the painted surface. I’m interested in pushing the parameters of a traditional painting practice in a way that helps me define what is important to me in my own practice.
What materials do you work with?
I work with oil and acrylic paints on canvas.
What are you currently working on?
I just finished my most recent series of structural canvasses, the “Paradox” series, and I’m working on a few smaller pieces to round out the collection for an upcoming show in March.
What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?
I like to find inspiration in books. Often, I will develop ideas and designs that relate to the themes I’m reading about. Aside from work-related books on color or art movements, I enjoy reading biographies, works of fiction in magical realism, and sometimes I like to just walk through a bookstore and choose things at random for the fun of it or because I like the cover.
What’s your art background?
I’ve always been an artistic person, and I also enjoy studying language. I double-majored in art and Spanish in college, and I’ve pursued a career as an independent artist since I graduated.
What’s next for you?
I hope to attend a graduate program in the next year or two to get my MFA in painting.
What’s inspiring you?
The artists whose work I continually return to for inspiration are, in the order that I discovered them, Dr. Seuss, Vincent van Gogh, Susan Rothenberg, and Richard Serra. Their work has had the greatest effect on my experience with art, color, and content, and I like to keep examples of their work at hand for when I am feeling blocked or doubtful.
I’m also currently feeling inspired by the writings of the Bauhaus color theorists Josef Albers and Johannes Itten.
Do you have any exhibits coming up/ past exhibits you’d like to mention?
I’ll be showing my latest work at Stonehenge Studios in Portland, Oregon in March 2014.
What are you trying to communicate with your art?
I have trouble staying present. I often find myself so absorbed in my thoughts and worries that I forget to ground myself in my body and the environment around me, so I intend to make work that addresses this state of mind and reflects my findings to others who may share the same obstacles.
I hope to inspire people to engage with the present moment by physically relating to the structures I create, and questioning the paradoxes and limitations that affect their own lives and their own bodies.
What is one of the biggest challenges you face as an artist?
One of the biggest challenges I face is having enough time to commit to my artwork. I currently have a day job as a manager at an art supply store, and work in my studio during evenings and on my days off. I definitely look forward to when I will be able to support myself by making art, and therefore be able to dedicate my time to my art practice as my first priority.
How has the meaning of your work changed over time?
The meaning of my work changes as I change, and evolves with me as I learn and grow. A few years ago, lots of my work was dealing with ideas about identity in relation to history, whereas now the meaning of my work is more involved with identity in relation to the future. I think I’m more interested in contemporary art than I was before, and therefore the meaning of my work is more closely related to what is happening now.
What is your dream project?
My dream project would involve some sort of collaboration with a group of artists that would showcase the power and potential of artistic creativity as a meaningful and useful asset to every community. I’m not sure exactly what this would entail; maybe something along the lines of a performance or an ongoing event or program. All I do know is that I’m craving the opportunity to unite artists of varied backgrounds and media with the goal of inspiring more serious and targeted investigation into the potential of art to effect societal well being and empowerment.
Do you collaborate with other artists?
Yes. I love collaborating with other artists. I find that collaboration gives me the chance to step outside my mind and see the world from the perspective of others. As a painter, I often spend much of my creative time alone, and my progress is slow. I think it’s important to remember that you can increase your potential and your understanding when you work together with others who share your interests.
What are you reading?
Right now I’m reading “Color”, by Victoria Finlay.
Favorite authors, fiction:
Haruki Murakami, Dr. Seuss, Jane Austen, Neil Gaiman
Favorite authors, nonfiction:
William Styron, Tina Fay, Vincent van Gogh
What was the last exhibit you attended?
I saw an exhibit of David Hockney’s later works at the San Francisco de Young Museum. My personal judgments on the potential of digital painting were blown apart, in a great way.
What was the first piece of artwork you bought/ do you buy a lot of artwork?
The first piece I bought was a reproduction of Frida Kahlo’s “Self Portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsky.” I don’t buy a lot of artwork, it’s expensive!
One thought on “Featured Artist: Alex Peyton-Levine”
Alex has a versatility in her art that allows her to paint the bright and the bold as well as favor a friend with a likeness of the Heffalump in vibrant colors. She also has a passion for painting the female form, something she does quite well.