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Portrait artist draws from the masters

One of portraits included in John Stegman’s exhibit at the Nelson Library. Inset: Artist John Stegman. - submitted
One of portraits included in John Stegman’s exhibit at the Nelson Library. Inset: Artist John Stegman.
— image credit: submitted

John Stegman kept himself entertained  during  his Port Alberni school days drawing pictures and comic strips.

All that non-studiousness paid off in later life, when Stegman picked up his paintbrush in earnest. Stegman’s latest work is now showing at the Nelson Public Library.

The human form and face has always been of interest to Stegman.

“My earliest artistic influences were the great graphic artists who drew strips such as Prince Valiant and Tarzan,” he says.

Now semi-retired, Stegman’s influences have broadened as he studied the work of the great artists, travelling to Paris to make drawings of some of the famous works in the Louvre and London’s National Gallery, and exploring their painting methods.

“I’ve been teaching myself the technique of making monochrome underpaintings, as did painters such as Rembrandt and

Vermeer,” he says. “It is challenging to adapt a technique which was originally done in oil to acrylics.”

The show is comprised of six large portraits and one floral work.

The portraits employ subtle use of light and colour to create sensitive renderings of the human face. That the artist enjoys finding nuance in his subjects is clear.

It’s a shift for someone with a background in maths and sciences and  a degree in astrophysics, achieved despite that early classroom inattention.

“Drawing and painting give me the opportunity to use the other side of my brain,” Stegman says.

Stegman’s work is on display through March and April.

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