Meet Mandy

MANDY LEVINSKY

I had a tough time learning in school, I'm a visual, hands on learner, and my needs were not met at the time. I loved children's books, comic books, cartoons, and animal books growing up. They were a great escape for me as a child. I loved illustrations of any kind that made me laugh. Dr. Seuss was one the first books I was introduced to and it left a great impact on me. Dr. Seuss stories piqued my interest and encouraged me to finally learn how to read in first grade. I doodled a lot and would create little happy creations on my school papers.

It wasn't until high school, 9th grade, that an art teacher recognized that I had talent in the arts. Immediately, I was placed in a gifted and talented program. Poor grades had led to low self-esteem, but after being placed in a group of gifted student artists - my self image soared! I was on cloud nine. My parents encouraged my art and in the evenings after school I took oil painting, still life and anatomy classes. Still life and the anatomy classes really helped me to look at things with more intensity. Definition, shadows and color. I love color!

I graduated highschool and made the National Art Honor Society. There were only 7 of us. However when applying for the art colleges, they had suggested that I attend community college before considering admitting me into their schools to pick my grades up from my early years in high school. Frustrated, I ended up getting a summer job out of high school as a pre-school teacher at a learning center and pursued that as my career. It was a blessing in disguise because of my compassion towards children and interest in their learning styles. I was creative in my approach and developed a lot of visual tools like creating life-size characters found in children's favorite storybooks.

For 20 years I worked with all ages of children, including my own child, and taught them how to grow creatively through murals, mosaics, and collages. I also focused on developing their reading skills while also learning authors and illustrators of the books they read. In my free time, I painted and continued drawing when I could find the time.

At 38 years old, I decided I had nothing to lose and pursued my life-long dream. I opened an art studio, Nightbird Studio, with a business partner and friend. Until now, my passion with art had always been last in my daily priorities, but now I could make it a strong presence in my life and devote my days to creating art.

My strongest influences today are still children's storybook illustrators. Amongst my favorites are Eric Carle, Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak, illustrators of The Little Golden Books, Ian Falcone and Mercer Meyer to name a few. Other influences include cartoons, Spongebob and Looney Tunes are my favorite and comic strips such as Bloom County and Calvin Hobbs. When I visually create most of my art, I imagine it in a book, colorful, big and bright. My style of art is freehand and I mainly use acrylics. I rarely make a sketch. If I make a sketch it's normally on a scrap piece of paper when it pops in my head. Large scale pieces are a lot of fun to me. I have done several 6 ft tall pieces and large murals. I love all that space to be free! However, any painting I do large or small is pure enjoyment for me!

My style is creating art that makes people happy - I find great joy in making people smile, laugh or comfort. My sense of humor, love, passion, and compassion for people (young and old) and animals fuels my art. I am excited every day about continuing my dream and creating a wonderful world of fun and happy paintings!