Warm, layered, joyful, inviting, true. When asked to describe her paintings in five words, Meryl Lebowitz chooses these. "I guess that's my personality too," she adds. Most of Lebowitz's paintings reflect not only her personality, but also the personality of her home state of Vermont. And whether the subject is a snowy farm landscape, a quaint breakfast cafe rendered in exquisite detail, or simply the friendly eyes of a hot dog vendor in downtown Burlington, each exudes a warmth, depth and allure of its own.
A self-taught artist, Lebowitz has nearly 40 years of experience under her brush. "Making art was always my favorite activity," she says. "I remember ruining my bedspreads and carpets by spilling India ink on them." These days, her talent's more refined-and she enjoys nothing more than sharing it. While her two sons were young and busy learning to ski at nearby Burke Mountain, Lebowitz taught art to special-needs students at a nearby public school. She was also the Arts in the Schools coordinator at Catamount Arts in St. Johnsbury and later started an art school with a friend in Lyndonville.
Lebowitz spends her summers working in her garden-or painting it-but she prefers painting in winter, she says, because she finds the cold weather more conducive to holing up in her studio. "I can hunker down for two or three weeks on one painting," she says. "It's like reading a good book." That's why her winter paintings are often her largest-with the cold Vermont winters, she spends more time with each canvas. Lebowitz also professes a fascination with different shades of snow. "People think of snow as white," she says, "but something about the way the light hits it can make it appear white, blue, yellow or gray."
Lebowitz learned to paint with acrylics, but started experimenting with oils about 15 years ago. While acrylics are fast-drying, Lebowitz says, "acrylics can be painted in a few hours, so you don't have to wait until a layer dries to add more detail, but oils have an incredible richness." She also occasionally departs from conventional canvas, employing alternative media like scrap metal and other salvaged objects. She even decorated a violin as a donation for an auction benefiting the Vermont Symphony Orchestra.
Lebowitz's paintings can be found in galleries throughout Vermont, including Frog Hollow Gallery in Burlington, Furchgott Sourdiffe Gallery in Shelburne and Vermont Fine Art Gallery in Stowe. For more information, visit her website at meryllebowitz.com.