Tuesday, November 16, 2010

An interview with Rachel Levitas

Rachel Levitas, winner of the Lynn Painter-Stainer Prize 2010 with Urban Foxes III
This is an interview with Rachel Levitas, who last night won the Lynn Painter-Stainer Prize 2010.

What's your background? Did you have a formal art education or did you teach yourself?

I was educated at Camberwell School of Art and the Royal Academy Schools.

Tell me about your artwork. What's it about and how does it evolve?

For some years I have been working on paintings that examine crises in society.

The painting depicts two foxes fighting in my local street. They symbolise new forces coming into play in the void left by economic collapse. They represent creativity, the uncontrolled wild, and apprehension of the future. I began the Series with drawings from imagination; I then used observational drawings, photographs taken by myself, and memory to create the images. The painting is on panel using oil paint, wet on wet.

Is being an artist a full-time occupation for you - or do you have a 'day job'?

I had a part-time job on the art desk of The New Statesman until 2009. Since then I have had some teaching work.

What's an ordinary day for you when you are "being an artist"?

I moved out of my studio in October due to lack of funds and have been painting in my kitchen. I drop my children at school 8.55. I have a morning cup of coffee at 9.15 and check the news and my emails. I tidy up various debris left by my family and begin painting at 9.45. I paint intensely until 3 and then frantically clear up, rush out of the house to pick up my younger son at 3.30. The next few hours are spent with my two sons. If I am not too exhausted I often pick up a sketch book when my kids go to bed and draw in front of the television for a couple of hours and chat with my husband about art.

Do you enter a lot of art competitions? Why did you enter the Lynn Painter-Stainer Prize?

I am selective about the art competitions I enter. Mainly due to lack of time to research all available. I concentrate on painting competitions. I entered the Lynn Painter-Stainer because I was encouraged by my selection for the Jerwood Drawing Prize and the Discerning Eye this year.

What does it feel like to hear you won first prize?

I was absolutely thrilled and delighted as I had not been told beforehand.

What are you going to spend the prize money (£15,000) on?

The Award will allow me to paint full-time for a period. My first task is to find a new studio.

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