In the new edition of Plumage-TX Magazine, Katherine Shevchenko, Art Consultant interviews San Antonio Artist, Russell Stephenson for her 'Mooney Makes Sense' podcast on the eve of Stephenson's opening at J.R. Mooney Galleries- Boerne.
Read the full article here at:
An Interview with Artist Russell Stephenson
This June, J.R. Mooney Galleries of Fine Art is hosting San Antonio artist and
contemporary abstract painter, Russell Stephenson, and his new body of work entitled
Mindscapes. Russell Stephenson took some time on the eve of his show’s opening to discuss
his art and his current modes of thought and influences that are currently driving his work.
A native Texan, Stephenson has been based out of San Antonio for the past 11 years, but has ventured throughout the United States observing and gathering inspiration for his art. Stephenson elaborates, “Throughout my extensive travels and explorations, I’ve been all over the United States… I’ll always try to bring some of the inspiration that I always got from nature into the work in one form or another.”
As an artist, Russell Stephenson has been on a lifelong journey that started early in his life,
“I’m one of the stereotypical artists that was born with a pencil in my hand and I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pencil and scribbling on the walls with crayons. My artistic journey started from then and has become this long paced development of an unique voice that has developed over time through professional academics and my own experimentation.” Everyday life and its challenges and joys merge into his abstractions; they are processed through his hand as he creates. “So periodically, my work changes and evolves, depending on how I’m growing in that particular period and what occurrences happen in the news on a daily basis. And what events occur in my own life and times and the people that I know and it all kind of gets thrown into a blender, so to speak, and mixed in together and it all comes out in one form or another in the studio when I work.”
When Stephenson works, the execution and craft are at once in force, picking up anything that can be used to translate the feeling and effect he is striving to achieve. Stephenson elaborates, ”I’m always experimenting with different techniques and different tools in order to explore the mark-making aspect of my work. Sometimes that involves a pencil, sometimes a brush, sometimes a spatula, sometimes something out of the kitchen drawer...”.
Currently, Stephenson has created a painting series that references the landscape, yet in a more conceptual and introspective nature than his previous bodies of work. Having grown up in the Texas Panhandle, the expansive landscape permeates his subconscious, manifesting in exploratory renderings in paint. One of the signature paintings in the exhibition, Corona, depicts textural cloud formations hovering with tension over an earthen toned horizon. Stephenson explains in depth, “Corona is influenced by that landscape and even more recently by the recent thunderstorms that have ravaged Texas... the idea of the super cell that kind of carries an idea and then dumps it at will wherever it may; I think they’re quite spectacular, sometimes they bring life and sometimes they bring death. They fill lakes that are ravaged by drought, but at the same time they overflow rivers and cause devastation. So the power of nature has shown up in this recent body of work, because we’ve seen so much of it lately.”
Having done realistic figurative work in the past, Stephenson’s process has evolved to transcend the figure to wholly depict the world the figure inhabits and is experiencing. “What started as landscapes ended up as an internal thing in the mind. Once I got all the way through school, the figure started to come out of the work, and then I just concentrated on the world itself and thereby the viewer of the paintings became the figure and the work that hung on the wall became the world I was able to explore.”
This transition of subject matter in relation to the landscape has been a gestalt of psychological elements that have come together in his artistic formation. The role nature plays in his work and how it enforces a sense of scale both literally and metaphorically, causes Stephenson to reflect, “I’m certainly influenced by the natural world, I mean as we all are; we are all affected by it. From the immensity of the sky and what’s unknown underneath the waters and so on, we become very small in comparison to the forces of nature.”
Ultimately, an abstraction of the landscape is merely the result of Stephenson having formulated a process to express all the intangibles of the many multifaceted aspects of witnessing various locales firsthand. “These are all collective experiences over time of different places that I’ve been to. In the artistic mind it turns into a totally different language altogether, because there’s also the exploration…into how to push the boundaries in the work, rather than just capture what the eye can see. But also try to develop something new out of it and explore a new depth in some of the works and create a sense of realism in the abstraction so the abstraction itself becomes its own reality.”
© Katherine Shevchenko, Art Consultant
Mindscapes is on display at J.R. Mooney Galleries of Fine Art - Boerne until July 1st
305 South Main St. Suite 400
Boerne, TX 78006