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Lived/Active: Hawaii      Known for: landscape, floral bouquets

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Jeannine Levitt-Riccio
An example of work by Jeannine Levitt-Riccio
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from the artist, Jeannine Levitt-Riccio "Fleurette," Honolulu, Hawaii:

"Painting the Rainbow"
By Audrey Martinez

Neo-impressionism arrives at the Alliance Française of San Francisco on Monday June, 24 with "Remembrances," an exhibition of the works of French-born painter Jeannine Levitt-Riccio. This extensive collection of 54 oil and acrylic paintings on canvas, depicts, with bright colors and great texture, the splendor and charm of many places visited by the artist throughout her life, with exquisite paintings of gorgeous, colorful flower bouquets.
While keeping the illusionary feeling of impressionism, the artist breaks away from the more traditional, dull colors school, and, by heavily layering bright colors, conferring a luminous and textured feel to the works.

Jeannine was born in the south of France and placed at an early age in a convent. Raised by nuns, she learned the time-honored tradition of flower painting, which is how she earned her nickname "Fleurette" meaning "little flower." She did not, however, take her vows, going instead to Paris. There she met her husband, a successful American architect, who brought her to the United States and married her.

She then traveled extensively throughout the world, raised a family and diligently worked for many charitable organizations. Following the premature death of her beloved husband, she decided to move to Palm Springs, where she continued her charitable work. It wasnt until she moved to Hawaii years later that painting fully settled into her daily life, her true talent inspired by the awesome beauty of the Islands. She retired there, married Tony Riccio, and had all the leisure time she needed to paint the paradise she lived in.

"I love to paint Hawaii. The light and the colors are heavenly."

It is, in these peaceful settings, that she can paint landscapes from her past world travels, recording these remembrances as timely works of art.

"Remembrances" contains a unique balance between Hawaiian scenery and other places she visited. Each work corresponds to a point in time in the artists life when she was traveling to a specific place, to capture the essence of such places: the eerie beauty of Hawaiian moonlit shores, the brightness of green fields around an American farm, the peacefulness of a Hong Kong temple surrounded by wild, colorful flowers, the charm of a small Parisian street with paved walkways and passers-by, or the timely scene of a small cottage covered in snow in Washington State.

Music plays an important part in setting the right mood in which Fleurette paints. Depending on the place she wants to depict, the artist listens to music that reminds her of that place, and can transports her there in her mind."If I am painting a Hawaiian landscape I will put some Hawaiian music on. If I want to paint the Alps, maybe some waltz will do. I choose the music depending to what I want to paint."

Flowers, exotic plants or trees are found in nearly every painting of the collection, as a clin doeil to the artists signature. This "little flower" believes flowers contain the light and life needed to confer a happy quality to the painting. "I dont like dull paintings," Fleurette says. "I always use flowers and light to give to my work a joyful feel. It is how I am, full of joy. If its a desert, I see an oasis, not just the desert."

Added to this joy is another of Jeannines character traits, her eccentricity, reflected in her painting. "I do things women my age wouldnt do, such as, going out to a party wearing a dress with feathers on it. Its just the way I am." This desire to be out of the ordinary is found in Jeannines painting method, which breaks the traditional rules of impressionism school. She uses a knife to paint, layering colors progressively. Then she layers in brighter colors, thickening some parts, making them appear to be in the foreground.

For Fleurette, the thicker it is, the closer it gets to the eye. The result is a collection of paintings that have a highly textured feel, making them seem all the more "real."

"I want people to feel as though they can almost grab a flower, a leaf or a tree out of my painting."

Jeannine also steps out of traditional impressionist style with her repeated use of bright colors. This confers extraordinary light to her work."I love painting each and every color. My life is like that, like a rainbow. All the colors are meant to be used."

In addition, water is an always recurrent element in the artists creations."You need light and water to survive." Somewhere a stream runs through a luscious rain forest, a fisherman stands waiting for his catch above a river, magnificent waves come crashing on the shores of Hawaiii, or a bright blue ocean fills the background behind a pretty Mediterranean villa.

Jeannine paintings still remain within impressionism style by not painting in details. The artist paints more freely, thus creating an overall impression. Nothing is "clear-cut." Everything blends together, giving an incredible fluidity.

Remembrances come to the art lover as a very real illusion, celebrating with vivid colors and infinite brightness the great beauty of exotic lands.

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