Inspired by nature and organic forms, Stephen’s expert use of heavy texture and high-gloss finish blurs the boundary between 2D art and 3D sculpture. His mixed media floral paintings pay homage to the origins of Abstract Expressionism, presenting an almost ethereal depiction of light, colour and energy. Celebrating ten years with Castle Fine Art, Stephen's new Opus collection includes a dazzling array of original large-scale canvasses.
Stephen’s paintings are a part of a genre that has been seminal throughout art history, including ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics of lotus flowers and Vincent van Gogh’s sunflower paintings. For his self-described “contemporary take on a classical subject”, he experiments with a range of styles and compositions. From smaller square paintings to large-scale panoramic works, his art is an exhilarating tour of the botanical wonders of nature.
Roses, poppies, daisies, hibiscuses and sunflowers are all depicted in a spectrum of different colours, including bold primary tones and delicate pastel shades. Often chosen by collectors for a wedding or anniversary gift, his romantic scenes feature bouquets, along with earthy landscapes and intricate details of petals.
Speaking on his new Opus collection, he says: "I wanted to provoke a sense of hope and give it an all-round uplifting feeling by using bursts of colour and texture. We’re all living through testing times, and I want to spread some positivity. I hope to make people smile when they see the collection, it’s meant to be happy – everyone deserves to be happy."
Artistic inspirations include the French modernist painter Édouard Manet and the pioneering American artist Georgia O’Keeffe. Stephen is also fascinated by how the English Romantic painter J.M.W. Turner managed to create the illusion of light. Drawn to the landscapes and coastlines of northeast England, he can be moved to create a new painting by the embers of a fire or a storm at sea.
Stephen says: “I want people to smile when they see the work. I want them to be happy. I want to evoke an emotional response, like when you receive flowers in real life. Everyone can relate to floral paintings on some level.”
Stephen works from his studio in Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire, where he is often inspired by his local landscape. He introduces incredible luminosity to his work by setting fire to his finished canvasses with a blow torch (don’t try this at home!) for a crystal-clear finish. For his upcoming collection, Stephen experimented with new styles and techniques.
He explains: “Before, I’d use a modelling paste to add the heavy 3D texture to my work, but now I’ve changed that for a super-heavy acrylic gel, which has a much more painterly texture. This works a lot better on canvas than modelling paste; in essence, it’s a thick acrylic paint without any pigment. I then add the colour to it before applying with a palette knife.
"The acrylic underpainting – a base layer for the next layers of paint – is coated in oil paint to soften some sections and add detail to others. I now coat my work in a high-gloss oil varnish rather than resin. Because I’m working on canvas rather than board, I found that the resin covered up a lot of the more detailed, textural aspects due its viscosity and depth when dry. It’s still instantly recognisable as my work, which is something I was conscious of while developing this new style.”
If you like reading about our artists' studios, don't miss our regular Studio Sessions feature in Fine Art Collector magazine. Catch up on previous issues here.
To celebrate 10 years with Castle Fine Art, we're delighted to present Stephen Simpson's brand new collection, Opus. Depicting some of the world’s most beautiful flowers, the collection boasts a spectacular selection of large-scale hand-painted canvasses.
Showcasing the very best of our artworks, along with behind-the-scenes updates and interviews, the new issue of our Fine Art Collector magazine is a must-read!
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