Founding member of Blue Mountain Gallery in Manhattan and Longyear Gallery in Margaretville, NY, Margaret Leveson is primarily a plein air painter, captivated by the Catskill Mountains scenery. Margaret studied at the NYU Institute of Fine Arts, and later on earned an MFA from Brooklyn College. She’s lived in the Catskills since 1977, when she and her husband David purchased J. Francis Murphy’s house in Middletown – Murphy was a famous 19th century landscape painter, whose works are displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, and other places.
I visited Margaret during the open studios tour on July 27 – she graciously opened her space to the public – a magnificent property with several different studios, and the main residence surrounded by a lavish garden.
I asked Margaret what’s her favorite artistic manifestation these days. She likes to paint plein air, mainly oil on canvas: “I love oils because you can change them so easily. I also love to work in pastels. The problem with pastels is in framing and storage of the finished product. For me watercolor doesn’t have the same flexibility as either oils or pastels,” she says. Among her artists of reference is Wolf Kahn, known for his terrific color compositions. Next to Kahn, on Margaret’s desk I see art books featuring Matisse’s fauvism, and David Hockney’s and Tom Thomson’s works.
Margaret’s plein airs have an impressionistic feel to them – the artist likes to apply color in oil sticks over the canvas or linen that is available. A new project is completed within hours, although sometimes it takes months to complete a more complex artwork. Photographs taken on site help the artist finish the project in the studio, but for the most part Margaret works from nature not from photographs – she thinks that photography doesn’t convey the light in a manner that does justice to the natural beauty.
On the opposite wall there is a series of interiors painted with oil on linen – these were part of the Reflections art show hosted by Blue Mountain Gallery in Chelsea in 2013. They are done in a realistic, detailed manner – Margaret says that some of her paintings are more detailed than others depending on the mood and the feeling she wants to convey. Beautiful shades of purple and yellow draw the viewer in, when looking at paintings like “Night Light” or “Porch with Plants,” my personal favorite.
For more information about Margaret Leveson, visit the artist’s website at margaretleveson.com.
© 2014 Simona David