Steve Shonk – Photography & Watercolor Painting

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How would you describe your art?

(painting) – watercolor on paper (mostly); 35mm & digital photography; subject matter – varied.

What are your favorite materials/mediums to work with?

Photography – it’s basically instant gratification; most of it can be used as artistic subject matter (unless taken solely for reference or other purposes), while not all photographs lend themselves to becoming paintings – some photos work better as photos.

What inspires you to create?

Regarding painting, that could be different things at different times; I never know the what, where, when or why something might trigger the need to paint it – when it happens I might crank out 10-15 paintings at a time, then not paint again for 2-3 years… however, almost all of my paintings are taken from my photography, which I am doing constantly – the camera is almost always with me. I seem particularly drawn to contrasts in lights/darks, but the subject matter could be anything – flowers, birds-animals, scenery, covered bridges, old mills, etc. I’m not always ‘in the mood’ to paint, but tend to set certain photos aside (‘that could be a painting’) for when the mood hits me. I very often have several things sketched out ahead and in a drawer, ‘ready & waiting.’

What’s your favorite quote and why?

I don’t really have one ‘favorite’, but what comes to mind first is from George Burns – ‘you can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old’ (somewhat self-explanatory), but there are any number of equally favorite quotes from Mark Twain, referred to when appropriate…

When did you start making art and why?

I was always ‘observant’ of things and started drawing very early (I was scolded in 1st grade for drawing mermaids on the borders of a spelling sheet). I entered my first art show in 1980 (Navarre), won a Best in Show (photograph), and later branched out into watercolors after I joined the committee (they were all watercolor painters), altho it was another 10 years before that really ‘clicked.’ Most of my family is ‘artistic’ in some way (visually, musically, etc); my father sang in a barbershop chorus and several quartets, and was also quite good at drawing & painting; my sister enrolled in musical theater and was involved for years in various productions in the Cleveland area (great singer but can’t draw a stick) – “why” we do it is harder to say – it’s certainly not making us rich (yet), but we enjoy doing it and like sharing it. I grew up on a farm (as did my dad in the 30s-40s), and compliments ‘in general’ were few & far between, but occasionally the artwork would get one; who doesn’t like hearing ‘gee that’s really good’ – we all need a pat on the back now & then. Maybe it’s still a need for ‘approval’.

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