I am interested in painting color relationships that create depth on a canvas. Exploring these combinations through different subject matters allow me to create a mood or an emotion. Each new series I develop is a focused reaction to a personal experience in my life. However it always begins with my obsession with color. My compulsion to manipulate paint comes from the joy and curiosity of our natural world. Putting some of of my authentic travel experiences into each painting allows me to engage with the viewer in a unique way …..almost like a color language.
— STEPHANIE WHEELER
What is your background?
I was born in Louisville KY but was raised in Atlanta GA. I started out at the University of GA in Athens and later attended GA State University. I came from a family of very creative and talented people. From an early age , I can remember our home being very art focused whether books , discussions or visits to museums. My father , also a painter ( not by trade ) in his free time painted , built furniture and was the master of making just about anything. My mother had the gift of language and taught high school French. Through many exchange trips , she helped to educate children and expose them to French culture , language and art . My grandmother had a strong passion for collecting antiques and interior design. My spent with her scouring antique shops was my first introduction to the world of decorating and how art played a key role. All three have played a very important part in my development as an artist.
What can you tell me about your training?
Although I have no formal background in art, my path was a bit different …. a little more unconventional . I have had the great pleasure to have studied with some amazing artists over the years . I began with a Russian portrait / figure painter in Atlanta….. but my most intensive study was with Andy Braitman in Charlotte, NC. I traveled to see him every month for 6 months . I spent 4 days each visit painting in his studio. Under his guidance , my art began to evolve as I gained more skills. After 2 years of working in my own studio , I returned and repeated the same course of intensive work with him. Working with incredible teacher like Andy was truly a precious time in my art journey, one I will never forget.
What other jobs have had other than being an artist?
Many and diverse ! I had a small catering business mainly doing corporate events . Later I became a travel agent …this was before Expedia and Tripadvisor! Next I worked with an interior designer for several years ….another great experience that I would only later really appreciate the extent of that knowledge and training . Then came event floral with a landscape design firm . All of the jobs that I have had along the way have contributed to my sense of color and design . The time spent doing the event floral ….my love of flowers and nature …. feeds my inspiration for my paintings.
Why do you do what you do?
I lose myself in painting to the process and it becomes a meditation. I cant not do it , I have to let the creative energy out . If I am not painting , I am creating something with food.
When someone walks into your show, what do you hope they grasp or take away about your paintings?
I have been panting steadily for over 16 years professionally. My subject matters have changed but my love of color remains the same. I like to create harmony and balance in my use of color. For me , making art is more about the process rather than a concept or a goal . Having spontaneity and faith in the process is key. I love being able to showcase all of the many different materials I like to “play” with in my studio . My first love is painting ….but there is so much more! I have had many people say that my art makes them happy ….goes to the point that most people have an emotional reaction to color and its personal. If I can create that kind of feeling of peace and enjoyment with my art …I have done my job. What kind of work do you enjoy most ? I love exploring new abstract work as well as getting ready for a show. As the show draws near , I find that some of my best work comes together because of the frenzy of the deadline ….the brains stops over thinking there is no time….and you just paint.
What is your studio like?
I first saw this 1930’s bungalow in 2002 . The house with its keebler front door and dilapidated building in the back garden ….I knew the potential immediately . It was the first and only house I saw that day with the real estate agent and the rest is history. Where I paint and create is so important to me. Having a peaceful surrounding , almost a sanctuary is what I need to do what I do . Add the combination of light and nature and it’s a great recipe.
What song inspires you?
I love singer songwriters, so many out there, but right now I am obsessed with the quirky oh so original Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. After seeing the movie, it was fascinating and inspiring to see an artist believe in something so different, something so original (all the many different ways they created sound), and the fight to get it on the air. Still is one of the most unique songs in rock and roll history!
It just energizes my soul, always has…visually and emotionally. Experiencing other cultures and scenery heightens my senses and ultimately impacts my painting. My paintings are really a journal of all of that.
What inspires you?
Color is everything. It sets the overall mood for my pieces. Although nature and travel play a huge role in where I find my pleasure ….as I get older I am less focused on inspiration and more interested in keeping my inner child alive . It’s that place that allows me the inspiration to create.