We love everything about Stephen Smalzel! He has certainly figured out how best to live his life to the fullest. His degree in nuclear physics from Cornell and career in researching superconductivity turned out to be not what he wanted to do—and there were many other things he would much rather do. Like traveling around the world, running Pike’s Peak Marathon (three times!), busking for the pleasure of passers-by, and sleeping outdoors in Australia for four months.
“Primarily I just wanted to be outside looking at nature and trying to uncover the mechanics of beauty,” states Steve, who taught himself to paint. “That is the essence of my art and the pursuit continues to this day — a study of beauty in the natural world.”
“At times nature presents a scene that is beautiful in itself and needs no interpretation or explanation, such as a majestic mountainscape or a field of bright wildflowers. These scenes seem to resonate universally in the human experience. At other times the elements of our visual perception such as color mixing, the interplay of light and shadow, compositional rhythm and graphic balance create an abstract beauty or intrigue that is hard to define. Both of these elements of beauty inspire me. Always there is a mix of the lyrical and the abstract in my art and it is my job to find the correct balance between the two. And then the painting must be executed with a style (the actual layering and brushwork technique) that compliments the balance between subjective and abstract beauty and creates a harmonious and satisfying whole.”
Stephen’s primary home is in Colorado in the warmer months—but when the temperature starts to cool, he heads to warmer, often tropical, climes to travel and paint—and play music.
“My main pursuits beyond painting are music and running. I was a successful mountain runner in my day, having won the Pikes Peak Marathon three times, and often use long runs to scout out new painting vistas. I play banjo, guitar and harmonica for fun, and enjoy the immediacy of music compared to the interpretive nature of visual art. When I become frustrated painting there is nothing like banging out an old jig on the banjo to set my head straight.”