Well, I looked over what I had written and got the feeling that by reading the ‘about me’ stuff you wouldn’t really get a feel for what my workshops are about and what makes them special. So I’ve decided to toot my horn a bit and tell you what kinds of things I’ve done over the years that would illustrate to you what I’m about. What I’m about is caring for people who come on my trips and trying to resolve problems that occur as soon as they occur – not days later. Here then is my list of things which should tell you what kind of environment to expect when you come on a trip of mine.
1) The one legged woman. That’s right – a woman came on a workshop to France with one leg promising to me that she was perfectly able to function independently. I said “ok”, why not. Well I soon discovered why not. When she got off the plane being carried by flight attendants and placed in a wheel chair I started to wonder. OK.. so what do I do? I got my dear friends from La Rochelle to find a young strapping 16 year old girl to care of this woman 24 hours a day: set up and take down her easel, etc for only $15 a day.
2) Three people in 15 years mistakenly thought the clear liquid in the bottle next to them was water when in reality it was paint thinner. Got them to doctors in record time and saved their respective asophaguses ( check the spelling of that please).
3) Then there was the guy who’s name shall go unmentioned who spilled turp on his foot and watched as his foot turned a beautiful shade of quinacridone red. Personally took him to the doctor and had him treated immediately. It was either that or put a frame around his foot and try to sell it as a painting.
4) How about the woman in Provence who had some kind of terribly frightening allergic reaction to something she ate. I accompanied her to the emergency room in the ambulance all the while telling her lousy jokes to keep her awake. She recovered just fine and later forgave me for the jokes.
5) Ah yes.. the group I had in Paris.. One night I accompanied several woman to the pharmacie du garde. That’s the one pharmacie in the neighborhood that stays open all night for emergencies. Well, this drugged out guy was hassling one of the woman and that just set me off. I got in his face and let him know that he had better back off. He did and I was ready to do anything to protect her from this jerk.
6) In the bus on the way back from the Cotswolds in England to Heathrow airport for the return flight home it was raining English cats and dogs. Lo and behold the windshield wipers stopped working and we had to pull off the road and likely miss some flights. Philip and Henry Meininger to the rescue! We went to the front of the bus, located the fusebox and spare fuses and replaced them on the fly!
7) Then there was the painter who came to France and didn’t listen to my directions about taking her medications on board the plane (please don’t make that mistake). Her bags were delayed several days and there she was without medications. So – what’s a tour director to do? How about go into the pharmacy in Brittany with her and find the French equivalents of her American meds and set her up with those until her regular ones arrived.
8) Then there was the painter who absolutely could not live and paint without Liquin. But there was no art supply store for miles and it was a weekend when many stores were not open. What did I do? Silly me – I took a bus 30 kilometers to the next town where I knew I could get Liquin, bought the last three bottles they had and came back without her even knowing I was gone.
9) One thing that is never in the itineraries I send out but which is something I find people really love is setting up receptions for our groups at the city halls of some of the towns where we lodge. Yes, mayors of small towns love to welcome us with newspaper articles, wine receptions and even opportunities to exhibit our paintings. I even received the key to a town as thanks for bringing 25 painters there for two weeks to paint.
10) One has to be resourceful on plein air painting workshops when the weather doesn’t cooperate. What can one do? Heck – that’s easy. Sometimes it means getting permission from the local priest to bring a group of 20 painters into his/her church to paint. Been there done that many times! Finding overpasses to paint under on the streets of Paris. Getting the local Hotel de Ville to let us use a room to paint in… and find a model from the local community to pose for us. Whatever it takes.
It took me 17 years of organizing these workshops to share what I think is special about them. I’m glad I’m doing it now and sure hope you try me out some day soon.
Now onto the more traditional version of an About Us page:
Phil Levine is founder of the Art Students League of Denver and served as its first president from 1987 – 1993. During his travels throughout France in the early 90’s he decided to begin organizing artists workshops for American painters. He organized his first workshop in La Rochelle in 1993 for instructors Kim English and Quang Ho. He received the support from Michel Crepeau, the mayor of La Rochelle and Jean-Louis Dangautier of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs. For the next five years the city of La Rochelle offered us warm and joyous welcoming ceremonies in the true French tradition. He has received a key to the city of Malestroit in Brittany, home of the famed Museum of the Resistance.
Since then he has organized workshops in New York City and Aspen, Colorado; Provence, Paris, Burgundy, Normandy, La Rochelle and Brittany in France; Venice, Italy; San Miguel de Allende and Oaxaca, Mexico; Sesimbra, Portugal; Santorini and Athens, Greece; Buenos Aires, Argentina and the Cotswolds, England. He chooses instructors who have strong communication skills, are successful artists in their chosen media and are enthusiastic about sharing what they know with their students.
Phil has organized workshops for Ann Templeton ( 3 times), Kim English (5 times), Quang Ho, Joyce Pike, Tom Hill, Gregg Kreutz (4 times), Kevin Macpherson (2 times), Charles Sovek (4 times) , Ron Riddick, Clyde Aspevig, Richard Schmid and David Lefell (these latter 4 all in Colorado through the Art Students League), Teresa Vito, Dyan Law, Nancy Chaboun, Lois Griffell, Tom and Pat Cory, Phil Starke, Ken Auster, Tim Horn and others.
Philip speaks French, lodges with each group and accompanies groups to all painting and photography locations.
John and Barbara Lencicki: John is a graduate of Pratt Institute and Barbara has a B.A. in Art History from Cornell.They’ve lived in Denver since the late 70’s , having moved there from New York. Veterans of Phil Levine workshops to Brittany and Auvillar (SW France) they’ve also Led their own workshops and professional art retreats to Tuscany, Redstone, Colorado, Acapulco, Corsica, Brittany, for the past 12 years. Previously Barbara held jobs at Denver Art Museum and Alliance Francaise in Denver. John teaches Figure Drawing and Painting at Art Students League Denver and taught 20 yrs. at Rocky Mtn. College of Art and Design. John Exhibits at Saks Galleries in Denver and Southwest Gallery in Dallas and also paints large-scale museum murals.