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Stephen Van Handel

Stephen Van Handel


Two years ago, after a long, full career as a graphic designer and art director in advertising, I fell in love again with the brush. Since I also lived in a parallel universe as a composer and recording artist, I thought I’d seamlessly slip back into music after transitioning out of my career – but no. Though I hadn’t painted since art school, I picked up the brush again and fell in love with a meditation. A meditation so simple, so basic, so complete, and so utterly lacking in any ‘technologies’ that had up to that point consumed me in both universes as a graphic designer, and a composer and performer.

The rediscovery of fine art – canvas, oil paint, brushes – brought me the joy of knowing I am devoid of technology and once again in blue-skies. Essentially everything was made new by this. Out in the natural world, where I am most comfortable as a nature man and a painter, is when I feel the balance and elation that my life is as finely tuned as it is possible in this constant meditation.

Edgar Degas (1834-1917) said it best when he wrote that “painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.”

Degas was lumped in with the art movement known as the impressionists – the plein air painters. Today there’s a huge resurgence of plein air painting, impressionism and impressionist realism, and because I’ve painted with some of them I can tell you very many of our living artists are every bit as masterful as those early ‘masters’.

That might not mean too much to anybody except a serious or even a beginning collector, but here is where an artist finds out that painting, especially ‘en plein air’ is indeed a journey and not a destination and painting is very easy when you don’t know how.

What’s going on out there today is remarkable – a real art ‘movement’ on a grand scale, and I feel incredibly fortunate to meet those people who inspire. Likewise I feel the most joy to share my journey with you and have my work speak to you. So I invite you to my studio for the Long Beach Open Studio Tour. Please come, meet and share yourself with me as well.

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Stephen’s Music

(There is ample parking one block north, on Ocean Boulevard and La Verne in Belmont Shore.)