Stephen Collett has been enjoying a love affair with the world’s great cities since his childhood, a passion which led him to study architecture and then to become a cityscape artist. His parents were extremely keen to introduce him and his brother to art, architecture and cuisine from other cultures, and took them away to cities at every opportunity. He has many vivid memories of the lights of Paris, the sunsets over Venice and the midnight sun in Oslo, and he recalls this time in his life with gratitude and a touch of idealistic nostalgia. He still travels to paint, to European cities in the main, but also to New York and Shanghai.
Stephen’s degree in architecture which has had a huge, but rather unexpected, influence on his work. His loose, bold representations of cities actually fight against the strict lines and rules governing the study of architectural design and concentrate on the emotions a city evokes in him, and the lasting memories he has from visiting it. He avoids filling a painting with excessive detail, as he believes this asks too much of the viewer and detracts from the feeling of the painting. He paints the light as he sees it, saying, “If the light is correct, the form will not be far behind."
This attitude makes a unique impression on the scene, one focused on capturing the ways in which the natural phenomena of the changing sky interacts with meticulously planned, manmade, historic and modern architecture. He often paints a city at dawn or dusk because that’s when he believes the light is at its most beautiful. This keenly reflects the sense of wonderment he experienced in these places as a child, and now, the love and respect he has for them as an artist.
Although he originally painted in oils and still does on occasion, Stephen now favours acrylics with a glazing medium. Due to the quick drying time, they allow him to build up many layers and achieve some extravagant lighting effects which would take many months with oil. He also relishes the energy and spontaneity that using acrylic paint gives his work, from mixing a colour to putting it on to canvas there is a window of minutes, which means his brushstrokes becomes instinctive and spirited.
A versatile artist and active member of the artistic community, Stephen lives and works in Liverpool and has worked with many businesses and charities such as the TUC, the NSPCC and the NHS. He has also hosted a series of Master Classes at the Walker Art Gallery. As well as undertaking several public art projects and artist in residence schemes he is frequently involved in Liverpool's thriving arts scene and has his studio beneath the Liverpool Artists Club where he is Resident Artist and Chairman of Arts. Stephen exhibits his work regularly in galleries in Liverpool as well as having undertaken solo exhibitions in London, Paris, Berlin, New York and Bogota.
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