By Gina Malone
Meryl Lefkovich’s life has been an immersion in art—from the high school art class that made her see color and form in the world to a B.A. in Art History to work in a variety of creative fields. “I’ve worked as an art consultant, travel agent and gallery manager, and in interior design and jewelry design, all the while painting on the side and showing whenever possible,” she says.
She began making small botanical watercolors, then, inspired by travels in Europe, started painting photorealistic architectural watercolors of Boston scenes and landmarks. “My contacts in the design industry connected me with clients in the Boston business, academic and residential world,” Lefkovich says, “so I had a steady stream of custom work. All of my creative career pursuits have contributed in some way to how and what I paint.”
Despite its disruptive and dangerous elements, the pandemic has been a guiding force to her creativity, she adds. “The pandemic has been cataclysmic on so many levels and has tragically affected the lives of so many people that to say there have been silver linings feels callous,” she says. “However, I feel fortunate in that it has allowed me—or I’ve allowed myself—a space to create with less pressure and more freedom. I’ve been painting more for myself and feel I’ve done some of my best work during this period.”
Like many artists, she has taken the time to tend to the business side of creation as well—increasing her online presence, updating her website and adding an online store. “At the same time, I’m practicing the ‘if you build it, they will come’ philosophy by focusing on daily painting and remaining positive,” she says. “I’ve been trying to embrace being productive in my mind as an activity equally as important as physically working on a painting.”
She generally uses acrylic paint on canvas or cradleboard, but has experimented with adding handmade papers to create textures and patterns and employing gold leaf. “I’m interested in trying collage,” she says. “I want to try everything and not be locked into a mold. I’m self-taught, which I think has contributed to my difficulty in staying consistent. The consistent thread connecting my work is color.”
Once she has settled on a subject, her process is to dive right in. “I don’t spend much time in a planning stage other than a loose sketch and an underpainting,” she says. “I’m very impatient but also a perfectionist. This dichotomy causes things to take longer than they should, but also invites new possibilities.”
Although there are “periods of highs and lows depending on the flow, or lack thereof,” she finds herself constantly motivated and empowered by art. “It’s inspiring to know I have a craft that allows me endless learning and growing opportunities and has transformative powers,” she says.
We Are All Connected, her painting chosen for the cover of this issue of The Laurel of Asheville, is one that she began many years ago and carried with her for the next 15 years, during which time she moved to Asheville. “A year ago, I lost my orange cat, Finnegan,” she says. “I believe his spirit helped me finish the painting. He just belonged in it. Once that painting was finally completed, I continued painting that allegorical narrative of women and animals in nature.”
Her love of animals goes back to her childhood spent finding solace in nature and imaginary worlds. “I’ve done a lot of volunteer work with animals over the years, which has contributed to the emotional connection I feel to nature,” Lefkovich says. “Humans are part of nature, and so nature is part of our story.”
Regional galleries carrying her work include the Lucy Clark Gallery & Studio in Brevard. “Meryl’s work is unlike any other that I offer in the gallery,” says gallery owner Lucy Clark. “Her soft, feminine forms as well as the underlying symbolism displayed create an emotional experience that is just breathtaking to behold. The more one looks at her work, the deeper the connection becomes.”
See Meryl Lefkovich’s work at MerylLefkovichDesign.com and on Instagram @MerylLefkovichDesign. Meryl Lefkovich Design is located in Wedge Studios (#2B1) at 129 Roberts Street, Asheville. During winter months and due to COVID-19, the studio is open on Saturdays and by appointment. Text to 413.214.2196 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.