Stephen Smalzel

The challenge in my painting is how to visually create an emotional response. I am fascinated by the effects of color, the lyrical quality of loose drawing, and the power of bold graphic shapes. The idea is to use subtle abstractions to capture the essence of a scene – the increased intensity of a dominant color, the emotive and rhythmic nature of gestural brushwork, and the compositional force of delineated shapes. My goal is to express not simply what is out there, but the human response to it, emphasizing the salient parts of the subject and ignoring the rest. That, for me, is the point of art, capturing the heart of the matter and letting the rest go.

I was born and raised in Cohasset, Massachusetts. Although I showed some talent in art, I pursued many interests: sports, music, and sailing to name a few. I graduated with a degree in physics from the University of Colorado, and after a short work stint as a scientist, I quit to become an artist. As much as wanting to pursue painting, I simply wanted to be outside and savor the beauty of the world. I am a hobo by nature, and though, when pressed for details, I call Colorado home. I am constantly traveling. I have been all around the world, painting as I go. I prefer to sleep outside and paint in the sunshine.

I often scout for painting locations on long runs or bike rides. There are inspiring scenes everywhere. I was a champion mountain runner in my day, and have won the Pikes Peak marathon, the worlds steepest, three times. In painting too, I have an inclination towards mountain scenery. My other creative outlet is music. I play banjo, guitar, and harmonica.

Beyond my artistic goal of expressive natural beauty through subtle abstraction, there is the obvious notion of enjoying the process itself. I always do my best work when I am enjoying the actual painting and not struggling with the desired outcome. I consider the simple action of contemplating and responding to the natural world, sitting in forests and fields for hours and days on end to be a completely worthwhile pursuit. If the pleasure is in the journey as much as the destination, you have a good time wherever you go.