Thanks to guest writer Kinoko for today’s post
Speaking with Stephen Welch in person, he is friendly and happy to be painting on what he considers a “personal” project in the storefront of Muse Art and Design.
With a full cart of art supplies, Sharpie paint pens and acrylic paints are his choice tools. Line matters to Stephen. Graphic, bright color defines his work. He is a natural visual communicator with a professional background in software graphics and a love for painted illustration.
A Seattle transplant now living in Portland, he “moved out when Seattle was getting too big,” he explains. That was twelve years ago and today he paints and collages the image of a bamboo chair onto a primed wooden panel. As a designer, he has worked since the nineties. He works for himself as a painter. Welch is clear on his identity, separating design work from the “personal” work he does as a fine artist. “’Steve’, that’s what my friends call me. ‘Stephen’ is the name on my bank statement.” This reiterates for me that he knows when he is creating for himself and when he is designing for the needs of others. Looking through his work online, it’s clear to see that he excels at both icon and image. The paintings he creates are illustrative, simple and informative. He uses familiar objects and active, textured marks in paintings that are friendly and fun.
“I’m trying a new technique,” he explains. By painting with Golden soft gel (semi-gloss) over a Xerox of his original line art, he attempts to make a type of transfer. Eventually, he lays the copy onto the paint board and fills the black and white page with acrylic, never actually transferring the toner. It seems as though the process and the exploration of this work are just as enjoyable as what the result needs to be. Capturing the original line work is obtainable by painting enlarged photocopy of small sketches onto the canvas and he delights in building layers of arranged copy and cut. Yet, as in this piece, the strong image of the bamboo chair is never lost, but illuminated and rephrased.
Several artists have included signatures, titles or notes on the backs of their works. The last photo shows the back side of Steve’s panel — a miniature work of art in itself!