The strength of Stephen’s envy when his daughter’s year 12 major work won a year’s scholarship at the Julian Ashton Art School was the loud call that it was time for him to do something about the desire to paint he had subdued every day for 25 years.
A couple of introductory TAFE Cert IV Fine Arts subjects in drawing and painting in 2006 and 2007 provided some enforced structure and input, but rather than continue with a broad curriculum which would take him into areas of less interest, he left classes to pursue the areas which have always captured his imagination – the light, colour, shape and texture of the Australian natural environment – particularly that of the Blue Mountains. In 2015 he took the step of leaving his regular employment to work full-time at art.
Rather than represent a scene, Stephen prefers to confine his artwork to a section often akin to looking out an upper floor window. More than just reducing the scope of the image, the elimination of the wider context instead emphasises the constituent parts of colour, shape, light, tone, texture, and positive and negative space. This allows the observer to construct their own ‘overall whole’ – to move backward from the image and connect with their own past sensory experiences within the Australian environment, as well as introducing new, present ones to them. And, he really, really likes Waratahs and Gymea Lilies.