Lucy Stevens found inspiration for her latest paintings at, of all places, a bus stop; but maybe not so unusual given her vibrant and quirky sense of imagery. Drawn to the idea of people caught for a brief moment huddled together, waiting for their next destination, felt rich with symbolism and pictorial possibilities for Stevens. At a bus stop there are different types of characters, all shapes, sizes and color, momentarily suspended in time together.
“It’s so temporary — that particular pattern of people,” said Stevens who has created large 4- by 5-foot canvases filled with geometric colors, shapes and hints of people. The paintings feel fleeting and disjointed but with a beauty rising from the chaos. Using acrylic, oil pastels, colored pencils, and collage, Stevens weaves intricate arrangements of shapes, bright colors, and with hints of figures throughout. Written words punctuate thematically, reminiscent of billboard and advertisements flashing through the throng of riders. Her style is expressionistic, capturing the moment with broad, vivid strokes and layered arrangements.
A former writer, journalist and English professor, Stevens has found a different language with her painting. “I don’t think in words anymore,” said Stevens. Without any formal training in painting, Stevens has always been drawn to art with years of doodling in her journalism notebooks. She takes inspiration from the French painter Jean Dubuffet who created, art brut, or “outsider art” that is non-traditional, “raw” and “rough.” She said she wasn’t discouraged by her lack of formal education in painting but rather encouraged to find a style and feel for her work all her own. Only 10 years in and Stevens said she is more and more drawn to her craft.
“The thing is, I didn’t think I was an artist,” said Stevens. “I thought that you were only an artist if you could draw things that looked like how they look.”
Stevens will be in her third residency at the Studios of Key West this winter. Previously, she has shown work at Lucky Street Gallery and looks forward to presenting her large-scale pieces with this show.
‘Recent Works’ opens on Thursday, Nov. 3 with a special reception from 3 to 6 p.m. at Sanger Gallery at The Studios of Key West.
“Quirky is accepted here, celebrated even, which is why when I’m in Key West I feel so at home.” — Lucy Stevens, artist.