Emily McNiel Levy, an artist, said she spies on the secret lives of her favorite subjects while traveling through nature.
Levy, who lives in Lake Magdalene north of Carrollwood, is displaying her oil paintings as part of a one-woman show, “The Secret Lives of Florida Birds” through Feb. 15 at The Bunker, 1907 N. 19th St., Ybor City.
“I love birds,” Levy said. “They are fascinating. They are interesting creatures. I see a lot of birds – sandhill cranes, ospreys, herons and egrets – when I kayak and trail ride. They will fly along sometimes. Some of them, if it’s very quiet, you can get very close.”
An animal lover, Levy affectionately calls her 20-year-old, one-eyed horse her “pirate horse.”
“He’s a one-horse power Harley,” she said.
She paints based on her memory of the bird sightings as well as photographs taken by other people. Some of her favorite places to kayak include Lake Magdalene, the Hillsborough and Weeki Wachee rivers.
A mother of three grown children, Levy attends art classes at The Life Enrichment Center, 9704 N Boulevard, Tampa.
“I started art in college back in the ‘70s,” she said, adding she attended Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Ala. “I was a mom and didn’t have a chance to do as much. Now, I’m an empty-nester.”
She likes the social atmosphere at The Life Enrichment Center.
“I would not paint as much at home by myself,” she said. “I like sitting in the corner and listening to everyone talk the whole time. I like the social aspect.”
Tim Gibbons of Seminole Heights, who is one of Emily’s art teachers at the center, said Levy’s art has vibrant colors and depicts birds in realistic poses in a Florida setting.
“Emily tries to get the realism and beauty in natural settings, and she certainly succeeds,” Gibbons said. “She shows the natural character beautifully of whatever bird she is portraying. Her paintings are interpretations of nature’s hidden meaning behind the lives and culture of birds.”
In addition to working in oil, Levy also does encaustics, which involves layers of wax fused with a heat gun.
“It gives a nice luminescence and depth,” she said.
To view her artwork, visit The Bunker Mondays from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Thursdays through Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The Bunker also provides free music on Thursdays evenings from 7 to 10 p.m.