A product of California's art scene in the 50's and early 60's, Val Lewton at the time considered himself as either an abstract figurative or abstract expressionist painter. Having matriculated with an MFA from Claremont Graduate School, Val Lewton arrived in Washington, DC in 1963 to work at the National Collection of Fine Arts. He worked nights and weekends at his painting; he exhibited and entered competitions. Aware of the need to differentiate himself from the abstract style popular then, he became a realist painter. However, he often returned to the abstract. He loved letting his imagination reign. Although he might focus on a theme, he would stop a painting that had drifted to the abstract, and consider it done. Lewton cycled through his favorite painting categories throughout his life, returning to each with a new energy and a revised point of view.