Reviews and Commentary

Montgomery County Town & Country Living / Feature Story, 2010


"I've never lost my passion for paintingd in watercolor," Ed Letven confessed at the opening of his one man show at the University of the Arts. "For me, no other medium expresses the vibrancy, the beauty and the soul of the scene as a watercolor can. Because watercolors are transparent, they allow few mistakes. And unlike opaque media, such as gouaches, and oils, watercolor is often unforgiving.


"Though watercolors seem chaotic at times, the wonderful accidents that happen generate feelings of joy when things come out well."


Watercolor painting has always been the love of Ed Letven's life. Ever since he graduated from the University of the Arts in 1954 with a degree in advertising design, he has dreamed of spending his days outdoors with paper and a paint box. "But in those days," he recalls, "it was hard to make a living as a fine artist." Engaged to be married, Letven worked as an illustrator, photographer and designer before becoming an art director. In 1968, he founded his own advertising and public relations firm, which became one of the ten largest in Philadelphia Metro area.


Over the course of three decades, he built a successful career, earning enough money to quit advertising early in1997 and devote himself entirely to fine art, motorcycles and sailing. 

Artist Ed Letven

Excerpted from commentary by Dr. Burton Wasserman

Professor of Art, Rowan University, July 2003


Letven’s gift for creative interpretation often comes alive in rural rather than urban venues. For him, the sight of a barn in a pastoral setting will trigger patterns of response that potentially come together in a soundly ordered image, sparkling with vitality in shape and texture as well as many variations of hue, tint and shade. Typically, the whole composition will be joined together in a state of unified wholeness and a solidly conceived feeling for balance.


Letven often shows pictures that recall vistas of land and space located against a waters edge. There are compositions of buildings and lighthouses that bring memories into focus for anyone who has, at one time or other, seen such details along a shore line, a clapboard-sided house, a horizontal drift of adjacent water stand witness to the sudden change in the weather.


Ultimately,of course, the true significance of Letven’s art consists of his remarkable ability to transform a sight seen with the naked eye into a moving piece of heartfelt poetry.

Artist Ed Letven