Brilliantly colorful, the art of Stephen Hall fairly leaps with joy. Find out more about this talented painter by visiting his website.
I was reborn, artistically, in the dry Sonoran desert. I had retired to Tucson, Arizona from a successful career as an art director in Washington, DC.
In the golden hour of evening, while sketching at the foot of a giant Saguaro cactus deep in the wilderness of the Rincon Mountains, I made a commitment to take the leap, and go full-time into painting.
Three years into my plan I was represented by a respected gallery in Key West on famous Duval Street, had my work shown in ARTnews magazine and other publications, and several solo shows under my belt. Finally, I was on my way, living the dream. Then came discouragement, and a change of direction.
In two successive solo shows, six out of twenty-four paintings on canvas warped while on display. This had become a recurring problem—one that I had never experienced in my youth when I was making my own canvases.
Disappointed with the poorly made, brand-name professional canvases, I started experimenting with acrylic paint on heavy-weight Arches cotton paper—and my personal style and technique was born.
On cold press, watercolor paper, I put down marks and areas of bright color. Because acrylic paint is fast drying, I can quickly paint broad areas of new color over the base colors with a brush.
Then, with various sized palette knives, I remove lines and areas of color allowing the underpainting to show through, giving form, depth and texture to the painting.
My purpose for painting with this technique is illustrated by my poem: “I slash and scrape to get at the heart. Cutting down, deep down to reveal the inner beauty. Cutting away like Michelangelo on a mountain of marble. Cutting down, deep down to reveal the inner mystery.”
In the advertising business, we had a saying—“sell the sizzle, not the steak.” This is the approach I take with my paintings. I may sketch while hiking a desert trail or walking a lonely beach, but I never paint en plein air.
Rather, inspired (the sizzle) by what I see (the steak), I take it back to the studio and create an entirely different picture based on the inspiration.