Artistic Keys to the Kingdom: Flexibility and Discipline

26 Feb 2012

Artist Daily Member Spotlight: Steve Henderson

Summer Breeze by Steve Henderson, oil on canvas, 24 x 24.
Summer Breeze by Steve Henderson, oil on canvas, 24 x 24.
Artist Daily: Tell me about your oil painting process. Are there rules you adhere to or just the opposite?

Steve Henderson: Although I do follow fairly strict procedures, I permit myself the freedom to give new approaches a try. If they work for me, I adopt them; if they don't, I toss them. Different paintings require an appropriate approach. For some paintings, I take the time to study their design structure through preliminary sketches and studies. Other times I enjoy jumping right in and applying the paint alla prima, allowing each stroke of oil on canvas to mold the image into being.

One thing that always holds true is that I ask myself many questions before I even begin the painting process. Questions such as, Why am I painting this? What does this image mean to me? What more can I do with it?

AD: How do you view experimentation in painting?

SH: Absolutely positively. Artists should have a spirit of experimentation at every level, style, medium, and subject matter. An abstract painter can benefit from the discipline and draftsmanship of representation, and the representational painter can benefit from the looseness, compositional possibilities and imagination of the abstractionist.

AD: Where does illustration fit into your fine art oil painting practice?

SH: Working in the illustration field for 20 years kept me flexible and disciplined: flexible in that I illustrated everything from medical illustrations showing blocked arteries and hip replacements to cartoons of angry germs and tired office workers, and disciplined in that I had to meet deadlines and please art directors.

Shore Leave by Steve Henderson, oil on canvas, 16 x 20.
Shore Leave by Steve Henderson,
oil on canvas, 16 x 20.
AD: How and where do you sell your work? What has worked for you?

SH: Direct sales through my website, representation through fine art galleries, and indirect sales through workshops and classes. Stay flexible and eclectic in your approach. Offer items in various sizes, formats, and price ranges to expand your body of interested buyers, and keep in touch with your collectors through direct and indirect contact about your latest work and activity.

AD: Is American Artist magazine a resource for you?

SH: Yes, we live 30 miles from the nearest town of any size, and on her errand runs my wife, Carolyn, will drop in and sweep up magazines for me to read, one of which is American Artist magazine. I enjoy the range of topics covered, and use it to keep up to date on various techniques, some of which I try myself or introduce to my students (I conduct workshops and teach extended learning at the local community college). I appreciate the how-to articles for the latter aspect, because the authors will bring out a way of explaining something that has not occurred to me.


As Steve says, American Artist is a source that keeps artists thinking while shedding light on oil painting techniques and processes that are tried and true. And right now the Artist Daily store is offering 50% off CD compilations and back issue magazines like Painting Workshop with the Masters, which was our largest issue ever and covers every aspect of painting we need to progress in our art. Enjoy!

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John Philip wrote
on 13 Mar 2012 5:09 AM

The summer breeze painting is amazing! ...normally the green bleeding into the blue sky like that would spell disaster!!!