Stephen has been a mentor to me for several years, almost since I started painting regularly. I had the opportunity to visit his studio and watch him work his magic. What an inspiration he has been! His work is beautiful (and even more breathtaking in person). Not to mention, it is so wonderful to hear of an artist who is doing what he loves as his “real’ job! Enjoy!
Hey there. Firstly, I want to say that I am honored that Kim wanted to include me in her blog. It is a great compliment when another artist who paints as well as Kim likes your work. She asked me to write a bit about my story and work, and in an attempt to not bore the hell out of you I will be as brief as I can.
I am a firm believer in that you should feel passionate about what you are painting. It will show up in your work. For me it began in the great outdoors and nature is something I was exposed to as a child. Raised in a military family we lived in some amazing location including France, Germany, Puerto Rico, Florida and Northern California just to name a few. While living and exploring those locales how could one not acquire a love of Mother Nature.
My older brother showed signs of artist talent, and thanks to him, I experimented with drawing and paintings at a young age. As I got older, I realized that I could do a couple things, make something out of wood and draw. After High School, 3 years after HS, I eventually decided to go college, and though I went to 3 different schools, I finally got that BFA at Millersville University. In hindsight, I would have attended a 3-year art school. A Master’s degree was my long-term plan, but as they say…How do you make God laugh? Make a plan.
After college, I did a number of things for many years, believing the starving artist myth, and probably not believing in myself at least as far as the “fine artist” route. I worked as an illustrator, kiosk graphic designer, courtroom sketch artist, TV graphic designer and 3D animator for WGAL. I renovated a couple properties (remember… I could make things out of wood) all the while keeping the sketchbook going at some of the open drawing classes in the area. The paints and brushes I had put down for about 8 years finally, came back out in 2000. I decided to paint again and about a year later I met another artist who had discovered a way to sell his paintings. It was selling through the outdoor art show circuit, something I considered and believed they were out there starving. So, I gave it a shot and soon realized that you could make a living if you were willing to travel a bit. Being from a military family that seemed just fine for me. To test the waters, I did some of the local shows, did OK, but realized when I went to the Rittenhouse Square Fine Art Show that there was a whole other world out there of people that appreciated and purchased art. Not to say that locally that isn’t the case, but realized if you wanted to make a living it was a game of numbers. Both in crowd size and purchasing power.
So, on July 7, 2007, 7/7/07 I leaped out there and have not looked back. It’s been 10 years of being a full-time artist. There are milestones that happen when you are developing your craft, and they happen more quickly when you are painting full time. I knew how I wanted to paint and studied the painters I have always loved. The ones that applied the paint and showed you their brush strokes. They captured a gesture or object with just a few brush strokes. There is something about the look of fresh wet paint applied in this way that has always captured me. Painters like Joaquin Sorolla, early Edward Hopper, David Shevlino, Wayne Thiebaud and Richard Schmidt just to name a few. I always thought it was important to learn from the Masters and paint so those are some of the painters I studied and even though you are attempting to paint like them your own style will always come through. It is a fun process getting there though I had to put in the hours to begin seeing something that I liked. There is a feeling that happens when I have a strong painting on my easel and I chase that feeling. The more you paint the more it happens. Thanks for reading and if I left you with any questions, please feel free to reach out.. Always happy to help those on their own journey.
Stephen Brehm www.stephenbrehm.com
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