PD illustrator visits Westlake High art class

Andrea Levy talking with WHS students with 9/11 illustration on screen

Plain Dealer artist Andrea Levy visited an Advanced Placement art class at Westlake High School on Feb. 28, sharing that her days begin at 5 a.m. It was obvious from her bouncy, energetic, enthusiastic and positive personality that she loves life and meets each day’s creative challenge with zest. She encouraged students to emphasize the positive and avoid the negative energy of “I don’t likes.”  

“Make yourself bigger – like everything,” she said.

At the start of her presentation, Levy stated she strives to be a Surrealist in a conservative environment. Her assignments come from editors and generally have a deadline of three to four days. Working on as many as four assignments at a time she uses a vast range of media from photographs to Photoshop, airbrush, paint, clay, and often selects from a studio bulging with props. She places value on simple line drawing, gestures with paint, and a true light source. The illustration process begins with showing the editor a drawing of the idea, depicting it, and then returning with a finished product for review.

Levy emphasized that an artist needs to unleash and unhinge the conscious mind. Sometimes, she shared, it is necessary to leave an assignment and let it “percolate,” do something different. Then return to the task and see things take form. 

Levy’s use of humor was seen in an illustration of a Browns helmet with duct tape and nails, entitled “Putting the Browns Back Together.”  In contrast, for an illustration on the September 11 attacks, she created a serious homage looking back at Picasso’s “Guernica,” filling a full cover page with two tall arms and hands reaching up with a tiny human figure falling down between them.  The latter illustration won a first-place Headliner award from the Press Club of Atlantic City (one of the eight Headliner awards Levy received in nine years).

Levy has freelanced for the Dallas Morning News, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and the Boston Globe.

That Levy loves her job creating visual art as companion to a story was very obvious. She is a graduate of Ohio University with a painting major. She is currently taking a painting class at the Cleveland Institute of Art for the love of color and the love of paint. When asked by a student if music plays a part in her life, Levy responded that she is a “music addict,” loves chocolate and is influenced by sculpture.

Having followed Andrea Levy’s art in The Plain Dealer for the past twelve years, this writer also finds that Levy, in addition to leaning toward Surrealism, is also a powerful Expressionist.                                                       

The visiting artist session at Westlake High School was facilitated by the Westlake-Westshore Arts Council.

Marge Widmar

Westlake Resident; Board Member, Westlake-Westshore Arts Council

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Volume 5, Issue 5, Posted 9:54 AM, 03.05.2013