By Patrice Shields
“I always paint from life,” offers artist Stephanie Birdsall who made Naples, Florida her home from 1998-2004. “I believe it to be the ultimate in representational art because it is about real experience and demands the highest level of skill. When you paint from life, the subject, the environment and you interact as one together.”
Whether she is capturing a Sabal Palm in the everglades in pastel or a rocky ridge in Arizona in oils, Birdsall paints from life. “I often fall in love with a beautiful flower or edge or texture and that will be the inspiration for my painting,” says Birdsall. “It’s pretty immediate. The same is true for a landscape. I see it and then want to paint it!”
Birdsall received her formal training at the City and Guilds of London Art School in England. After graduation she spent time traveling through Europe honing her skills as a plein air painter. Upon her return to the United States, Stephanie continued her study under several top artists including Doug Dawson, Albert Handel, Ramon Kelly, and Frank Federico, and has been fortunate to paint under the tutelage of Richard Schmid and the Putney Painters.
Birdsall’s work is among the permanent collections of the Museum of the Everglades, the FloridaMuseum of Art & Culture, the Florida State Art Collection at the Florida State Capital, and the SonoranDesertMuseum in Tucson, Arizona. Stephanie was honored with a successful one-woman show at the Florida Museum of Art and Culture in 2006.
Birdsall’s lush, scenic landscapes and enticing still-life work has garnered national and international recognition and more than 30 major awards. Birdsall has exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in London, England, Bargemon in France and at the National Arts Club in New York.
Birsall has received numerous awards including Best in Show at the Bridgeport Museum of Arts and Science; the Grumbacher Gold Medallion Award; the Degas Pastel Society Exceptional Merit Award; the Connecticut Pastel Society Herman Margulies Award,the Catherine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club, and the John Manship Award. In 2004, her work was selected by the NationalAcademy of the Arts for inclusion in the Arts for the Parks National Exhibition.
Birdsall is a distinguished workshop instructor. When not traveling on location to paint plein air, she spends her time working and teaching. Birdsall prefers her students to paint from life but she also teaches them to paint from photos and what to look for when choosing a photograph. Birdsall advises new artists to just continue painting. “It gets harder and easier at the same time,” says Birdsall. “Your vision will change and you will become one with the painting! It will speak to you.”
Birdsall has returned to BonitaSprings to teach a week-long workshop in November at the Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs. The workshop offers students the opportunity to get back to basics, or to relearn them in a new way. Painters will have the opportunity to work with both still life and from landscape photos. The workshop is a jam-packed five days that will continue to offer value to your work long after the workshop ends.
“I am constantly inspired by the beauty of this world,” explains Birdsall of her love of painting. “Each moment is precious, infused with feeling and worthy of recording. Whether I am plein air painting in the Rockies or in my studio, I work to convey the feeling of the moment.”
Join the Center for the Arts for the first time and receive 2 free tickets to a Live! performance at the Promenade. Call the Center for the Arts at 239-495-8989 for more information. * One membership per household.
If You Go:
Who: Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs
What: “Painting Boot Camp for Oil or Pastels” with Stephanie Birdsall
When: November 12-16, 2012; 9:00am-4:00pm
Where: Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs, 26100 Old 41 Road, Bonita Springs, FL 34135
Cost: $545 Center for the Arts Members, $595 Non-Members
Demonstration Sunday, November 11, 2012, 1:00-3:00pm. $15 per person.