PUBLISHED: 09:50 30 June 2015 | UPDATED: 09:50 30 June 2015
Colchester-based contemporary painter Stephanie Stow exhibits across London and East Anglia, and this summer her work is hanging in Hayletts Gallery in Maldon. Caroline Foster reports
Artist Stephanie Stow grew up in rural Suffolk but, after marrying ‘an Essex lad’, moved to Colchester. It’s a move that has influenced both her and her work. Stephanie explains: ‘Living in this part of the country gives me an appreciation for nature and my surroundings. It is from where much of the inspiration for my current work evolves.
‘My vision for things around me is a little unusual,’ adds Stephanie. ‘The layout and composition of my work is primarily based on nature but in an abstract form, such as being influenced by gardens when they are past their best or objects that are decaying. For example, I like the skeletal form of plants when they are losing their flowers or rusting boats on the shoreline of Mersea Island.’
More recently, Stephanie has used visits to West Mersea as the focus of her current work. She takes close-up and abstract photographs, another passion of hers, of things that capture her imagination — rusty old chains across the mud, upturned and decaying boats, the deserted beach or tracks in the sand.
Many ideas are then born from the images she captures on camera. The subject matter then becomes the focal point of numerous pieces of work. Stephanie will create a whole series of paintings that might feature the chains in some way or another, or the beach, but each one is representational of the subject and not easily defined at first glance.
Stephanie primarily uses acrylics on canvas, then enhances some of the shapes and objects with pastels or charcoal. Her paintings are constructed of layers of paint, building up the colour and texture, adding then scraping away at the paint. Pastels or charcoal is used to fill in or highlight an object but in a loose form. Stephanie’s subjects always start out in a structural form, before being turned into something else. It could be a close-up or angled part of a boat hull. Then the shape becomes more abstract, less defined and, therefore, less obvious, from how it started out.
Stephanie studied art at the University of Hertfordshire and University College Suffolk, graduating with a BA Honours Degree in Art and Design. She has a long list of reputable galleries across East Anglia and London where her work has been exhibited and sold including Highgate Contemporary Art, Gallery Argentum in High Holborn, Foss Fine Art in Battersea, Bircham Gallery in Holt, CO3 Gallery in Colchester and Hayletts Gallery in Maldon.
The list of galleries exhibiting her work is growing all the time and Stepahnie is now pretty much showing all year round. ‘At some of the mixed exhibitions I may only show a couple of paintings, but at Highgate and Birchams I’ll need to provide anything up to 14 canvases,’ says Stephanie. Who confirms she is working flat out, including working weekends. ‘So is my husband, as he makes the frames for my canvases,’ she adds with a giggle.