Using a combination of tropical colors mixed with earth tones, Miami based artist Paul Lewin conveys the visual influence of his Caribbean heritage. Using powerful feminine subjects as the main focal point, Lewin integrates organic shapes, cultural symbolism and his love of sci-fi to create beautifully striking paintings with heart and soul.
Name three things you can’t work without?
1. Background sound: Audio book, podcast, music.
2. Organization. Everything has to be organized and clean to start the day.
3. A window with a view. Any kind of view, city or nature. For a momentary distraction.
What time of day do you feel most creative?
Mid afternoon. It takes me a bit to get going in the morning and at night I’m winding down. But mid day is when I’ve always been my most creative.
What do you think the world needs more of?
Compassion. Putting yourself in other people’s shoes. Not judging everyone based on your own personal worldviews.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Measure twice, cut once. My dad always emphasized the importance of preparation in any creative endeavor. I think of this whenever I pre mix my paints, prepare my wood panels or canvas, and when I organize my studio.
How do you want to be remembered?
As someone who was passionate about bringing joy to others through my work.
What were some of your first inspirations that led you to painting?
I would say some of my first inspirations were graffiti, fantasy art, and music. My love of graffiti started in the late 1980’s. I was very attracted to the flow and movement of all the different styles people were doing back then. I tried for a few years to do it myself but I didn’t really have the proper skills necessary to be as good as I wanted to be. Eventually I left the letters behind and just focused on the imagery and characters. This is when music, fantasy, and sci-fi art became a bigger influence for my work.
How do you like to describe your style of art?
The terms that I think fit my work best are Afrofuturism or Ancient Futurism. I’ve always had a hard time categorizing my art style, but these two terms seem to come up the most.
Can you share a little about how your ancestry has influenced your work?
In 2011 I was at a kind of crossroads with my art. I really liked what I was doing visually but I felt that I wanted the content of my work to connect to something bigger than myself. That led me to researching and studying my Caribbean ancestry. I loved reading about all the folklore, rituals, and storytelling that had been passed down from generation to generation dating all the way back to ancient Africa. I became inspired to tell this story through my work. Eventually this began to blend with my love of sci-fi and futurism.
What are your favorite tools to work with?
First would be white charcoal pencils for sketching. I always lay down a background color on my panels first, and then sketch out the image with white charcoal. I also really love my blending brushes. One of my favorite parts of my process is building layers and blending colors. Oh and my erasers. I erase A LOT.
How does the color palette you work with lend itself to your storytelling?
The colors in my work are a direct reflection of where I grew up (Miami, FL) and my Caribbean heritage. I like to use a combination of tropical colors mixed with earth tones. These colors really help to convey the visual influence of my ancestors.
Besides canvas, you do a lot of wood painting, do you prefer one over the other?
I worked only on canvas for the first 27 years of doing paintings. I tried wood for the first time 2 years ago and fell in love with it. I really prefer to have a solid smooth surface to work on.
How does your technique change between the two?
There is a lot of shading and blending that I can do on wood that tends to come out smoother than when I’m working on canvas. I also like being able to use my eraser as rough as I want without worry that I might be stretching out the canvas.
Looking back over your career so far, how has your style changed or evolved over the years?
For the first 17 years of painting my style was kind of all over the place. Over the last 12 years I feel that I’ve been more focused with my color palette and honed my voice a bit better.
What is next on the horizon for you artistically?
I am very much interested in creating a book about my art. I was influenced a lot by art books of my favorite painters when I was younger. I hope that a book of my work can inspire someone to begin their own creative path.