STEVE TURNER ON MODERN ABSTRACT PAINTING
Art has come later in life to this professional educator who was born and raised in Montreal, QC. This self-taught contemporary artist prefers larger canvases and his palette knife to create his abstract pieces.
Steve still talks about the splashes of colour on canvas that encouraged him to take his first class and develop his own expanding style. Local Ontario artists like Charles Robb and Peter Triantos have guided the flow of his work. He prefers to allow viewers to bathe in texture, featuring colour on colour, highlighted with a hint of metallic.
What started as a plan to prepare for retired life has become a release opportunity from the structure and order of work. Losing himself for hours in the studio on a Sunday afternoon has become part of an on-going wellness plan.
Steve Turner currently splits his time between his home in the Toronto Beaches and at his lakeside cabin, drawing inspiration from both locations.
Interview by Rebeccah Love
What kinds of creative activities did you gravitate towards as a kid? Did you do much painting in your childhood?
I would not say that I was a very creative individual when I was growing up.
How would you describe your teenage self? Was he a creative young person? What kinds of classes were most fascinating to you in high school?
I was always a math guy in high school and was not drawn to music or visual arts. The right angles and precision of drafting in a Technical Drawing course where I had to design and draft my own house was more suited to the structured patterns of the left side of my brain.
What route did you take after graduating from high school? What interested you the most about the world? What big questions did you want to have answered?
Growing up in Montreal my educational path through Cegep and the start of University guided me towards sciences and psychology before starting an Education degree at McGill. My big question was how to find joy, passion and happiness in a profession. Through a Physical Education degree and athletics I started what has been a very fulfilling 20+ year career as an Athletic Director, Teacher and Coach.
How did you first start engaging with the world of fine art as an adult?
I have always enjoyed street art and the abstract art world as an observer - including hours spent in galleries and museums on travels with my wife who appreciates many of the same styles as myself. My first couple of opportunities to develop my passion came from a group activity up at the cottage. After choosing an acrylic paint set during a traditional holiday gift steal game with friends, the following summer I set up a large canvas outside and gradually throughout the weekend, the same group of us worked on a collective abstract piece. Each of us added colour and texture as we passed by. It was a lot of fun and the piece ended up on the mantle. From that moment on I was hooked and decided to get a little more serious about an activity that I knew would be able to keep my hands and brain busy in my retired years.
What media have you experimented with? What have you learned about each different type of paint that you use?
The majority of my work is done with acrylics on canvas mixing in various texture mediums. I am very intrigued by the opportunity to experiment with oils but figure that I have years to go in my explorations.
How would you describe your paintings, in terms of content and style? What art movements have you been inspired by? Who are some of your favourite painters, and what are some of your favourite paintings?
I would describe my paintings as modern abstract, all about the colour and flow. Inspiration for many of my paintings comes from nature coupled with influence based on paintings and styles that I have been drawn to over the years. From Impressionists to street artists, it is the feel and the flow of artwork that catches my eye. Peter Triantos has several galleries in the Annex/Yorkville areas on my route home from work and the colour explosions of his splatter series inspired me to take my first art class. I had the chance to meet Peter and discuss his techniques and even brought some of my high school students to his studio for a hands-on experience.
I have also discovered so many wonderful artists from across the world through Instagram. It’s a perfect platform to explore new styles and expand your influences.
How would you describe your workspace?
Everchanging at the moment. From a small nook in the basement in the city to a new permanent studio being built as part of our new cottage design. I look forward to revisiting this question in a year after I have been able to settle into a larger creative space for a while.
What do you find is the greatest challenge you are up against when you create your paintings? And the greatest reward?
I am my own worst critic and I don’t step away from a piece often enough to just let it be. I still lack patience as an artist but I am getting better.
Do you engage at all with a local community of painters? How do you share your work with the world?
Instagram is my main way that my work gets shared and how my community both locally and around the world is starting to expand. The pandemic has made the past 2 years more of a time of individual creation without the opportunities to display work through local shows which makes interaction with the local painting community a challenge.
Many people speak about painting as a deeply meditative or therapeutic experience. Do you find that your projects allow for you to enter into a different headspace?
Painting has become a very mindful activity for me. I enjoy getting lost in the creative process and it has been very helpful to find an escape in the days of Covid. I have recently signed up for my first virtual art class and I find that I look forward to this new Tuesday night routine.
What are you looking forward to?
I look forward to my next piece. I look forward to setting up and moving into my new studio. I look forward to years of expanding my craft and sharing my pieces with the art world.
Steve Turner can be followed on instagram at @stragglesteve.