I was an artist from childhood. I started work in Photography in my early 20s, and ended up in Film School in Chicago in the late 80s. Graduating with a degree in film did not necessarily mean I was in the film industry. Rather, that degree tagged along with me to other places, specifically within the realm of computers, animation, audio production, and other artistic endeavors. I’ve owned a video production business and produced mostly corporate style commercials, special FX pieces and animations for clients. But as time has gone on, I’ve come full circle around to the more pure forms of art again, in particular oil paintings, and illustration, and on a very old and prototypical form of substrata; wood.
Since 2013 I’ve produced more than 100 paintings, currently at work at any given time on at least 4 in rotation, allowing for drying while I work with the others. I started large, and have gone more towards medium and small sizes, with plans for larger ones still in the works. I have produced 1 triptych as well, my first and only one so far. Recently I’ve done a few 30×40 canvas pieces.
I have never been stressed out about being famous, or rich (not many who become artists truthfully believe we will be one or either of these things when we launch into art as a profession, unless we are under some delusion).
I’ve worked primarily from photos for models and subject matter. They at least stay put for you and the light does not change. I’ve tried Plein Air, and in a romantic sort of way I do like it. But the bulk of my work is much more carefully planned and crafted, purposeful, and also normally smooth, utilizing a great deal of blending at every stage. Even with multiple layers of paint you can still see the wood grain to some degree, or the strokes of the application of gesso.
I create my own frames, or reform choice “found” ones, and so I’ve become a woodworker, out of that necessity. Most of my pieces are custom-framed for fit, and hand-stained or painted. I have found over time as well that making the frame FIRST for an artwork is a good idea, because it’s so much easier and more precise to create the artwork surface to fit the frame than the other way around.
I hope you enjoy my art, but also wrestle with it, contemplate it, and be impacted by it. There is a part of me that goes into every piece. I sign my name with my artist’s nom de plume, “Stephen”. My real name is spelled with a “v”, but I have always thought of my artistic self as another person. It’s not a multi-personality thing, of course, but another “personage” that is special and decisively different than my walking-around self. I hope one of us will get to meet you, frankly the “v” Steven, because he is more engaging than Stephen in regular conversation.
(Steven Curtis, Randolph, WI)