We had the good fortune of connecting with Meredith Steele and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Meredith, what habits do you feel play an important role in your life?
The work habit that has helped me most with my art is to just keep producing. Getting into the studio and putting in the work has helped me reach a level of success in several ways. Not only do I complete works, which is one level of success, but the creative process naturally unfolds over time during the act of painting. An inexplicable type of alchemy happens during the process of working in which I develop new ways to use the medium or approach the subject. I can’t overthink the process of making art; I simply have to get into the studio and put in the work.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have always been interested in everyday objects and capturing visual details in our surroundings that are often overlooked. I get inspired at unpredictable times, like when I’m staring down the block while waiting for my dog at the vet, or sitting in my car at an intersection after dropping off my daughter at school. I see compositions in the sides of buildings and along sidewalks, The effect of sunlight on these spaces and the way shadows form and warm and cool color relationships develop, interests me. While looking for dynamic relationships in positive and negative spaces, I imagine them rendered in a combination of observed and invented hues.

In my work, I am interested in the microcosm of the painting. I work in acrylics because I like to quickly pile on the layers, yet let bits of the underpainting show through for an unexpected element of color that contrasts in hue, temperature, and
intensity. It is important to me that the surface of a painting provides a bit more information to the viewer upon close inspection; getting up close to the work is as rewarding as seeing it from a distance. The images that I paint around town provide me with sharp contrasts in surfaces and values that I need to manipulate the paint in the manner that I prefer.

I have been painting for nearly 30 years and I keep expecting it to get easier, but it only gets harder. For me, the more I learn about painting, the more it challenges me. The techniques that I use have come from years and years of figuring out how to mix colors, how much paint to have on my brush, and now to put it on the surface in an effective manner. My only possible path to success is to keep plugging away, day after day, in my studio. There are no shortcuts.

I was a high school art teacher for 20 years, and I had a selection of of my own “truisms” about making art that I used to share with my students. Here are a few examples:
1. Making art is like life; it never turns out the way you anticipate it will at the beginning. But what you have created is a piece of you, so work with it and make it the best it can be.
2. Painting with too much paint on your brush is like managing a room full of preschoolers. Less paint on your brush is less to manage and easier to control.
3. It’s not the subject that you paint, it’s how you paint it. Any subject matter is valid.
4. If you’re stuck, pick a theme and do 20, 50, or 100 sketches on that theme.
5. If what you’re doing is working, do more of it and do it larger.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Walking Lake Merritt is one of my favorite things to do in Oakland and is a great way to get a sense of what the city is about. It’s absolutely beautiful with a fantastic mix of people. Close the lake is the wonderful Oakland Museum of California. I have often taken guests to visit their beautiful grounds and the History of California exhibit. My favorite part of the museum, however, is the little nook with Bay Area Figurative Painters where you can see the expressive, economical brushstrokes by a few of my favorite painters, Joan Brown and David Park. At the opposite side of Lake Merritt is Vegan Mob, a great to-go restaurant that I have painted in the past. The line is often down the sidewalk with good reason!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would particularly like to dedicate this shoutout to my husband Jason and daughter Amelia, who have always supported my time in the studio and passion for making art.

Website: www.meredithsteele.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/meredith_steele_/

Twitter: @meredithsteele

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