Stephen Shortridge – Romantic Impressionist, Author & Deeply Held Faith

Stephen Shortridge

“This Enchanted Evening”, Stephen Shortridge, oil, 12” x 24″

 

Romantic Impressionist painter Stephen Shortridge put down his brushes just long enough to write a book that was published last fall.  Along with being a painter, family man, gallery owner, and writer, “Deepest Thanks Deeper Apologies – Reconciling Deeply Held Faith with Honest Doubt”  published by Worthy Publishers, brings forth another Stephen Shortridge attribute I did not know about: Deep Christian Faith. I was fascinated by the combination of Romantic Impressionistic painter and devout Christian, so I did what any self-respecting blogger would do: asked Mr. Shortridge if he would do an “interview” for CashArtBlog. He said yes…

Stephen Shortridge Interview

 

Stephen Shortridge

“Floral Music” Stephen Shortridge, Oil on Linen, 30″ x 30″

 

 “I paint with an impressionist style. It’s loose, and the broken brushwork is easily seen. It’s not finely finished, and a great deal of information is missing, requiring the viewer to fill in and participate. I write like I paint.”                  Stephen Shortridge 

 

These first few words of the Stephen Shortridge book “Deepest Thanks Deeper Apologies – Reconciling Deeply Held Faith with Honest Doubt” start laying the ground work for the read ahead.  It was this book that has ultimately led to the next few questions, quotes, and answers:

CS:   Can you describe any similarities in the process of writing your book and oil painting?

Stephen Shortridge:  The similarities are amazing between writing and painting. I now know that like paintings, books may start where you like but they may end where they like. That’s not all bad. In a sense what we create has a life of their own somehow. I try to listen when I am surprised by what I say or create. I try to understand if what I’m working on isn’t actually trying to help me in some strange way. I also find that everything creative adds to the abilities of any other creative endeavor. [I have done stained glass, silk painting, some watercolor, block printing, jewelry making and more, and continue to experiment with mediums]. For instance since I have been writing these last few years the discipline and patience required for writing have given me more patience and increased my ability to concentrate on painting. I think creative people miss out on the whole experience when they insist on only doing one medium or only pursue one avenue of creativity.  

CS: Was there one moment in your life when you knew you had to be a painter, or was it more of a process? 

Stephen Shortridge: I have always felt creative and my third grade teacher alerted my parents to my abilities to draw. So I can’t remember not loving the arts because of my parents love and encouragement to pursue them. The painting in oil came as a later endeavor and took about ten years to paint the way I wanted to. Some may not know that I was an actor for fifteen years in LA and NY and did lots of series and commercials in the process. Creatively I never really enjoyed the acting part. I would have much preferred the writing and directing part but never gave that a try.

 

“Not until you risk and use what you have; can you gain what you are not. You don’t know what you lack— until you risk.”      Stephen Shortridge

 

CS:  When did the idea of writing your book take root? Did the writing come to you naturally, or did it take a little more effort than you thought?

Stephen Shortridge: The first book I self-published was called Created Creator and was a full-color coffee table book that’s still available at The Painter’s Chair. That was more about art than God, and was greatly inspired by another book that I love on creating called Art and Fear. Probably the most practical discussion on the difficulties faced in creating.

Stephen Shortridge

Cover of “Created Creator – Works & Words” Stephen Shortridge, 168 page coffee table book

The writing has flowed from two sources and both are so tightly wound in me that they are inseparable—the idea that I am a created creator by a creative God. I believe everyone is creative and the highest forms we create in are love and forgiveness. The arts and self-expression are just parts of who I am. Unfortunately I think many people have just stopped being creative. A theme of Created Creator was “Creativity is not a “gift” to the few—it’s a nature shared by all.” I write to expose the lie people are not creative, and to also talk about faith in an honest light. I find trying to live faith is the greatest challenge in my life, and for me, more important than anything I could ever creatively produce.

 

CS: Did writing Deepest Thanks, Deeper Apologies help to strengthen your faith, and/or did it lead to more questions and searching?

Stephen Shortridge: Deepest Thanks, Deeper Apologies is a book more about God than art. It has come from a lifetime of my experience as a Christian in faith and the desire to speak up from a little different viewpoint. The subtitle of the book is “Reconciling Deeply Held Faith with Honest Doubt.” I find this life is a lot more mysterious than people with, or without faith, seem to believe. I believe in God, and my doubts have driven me deeper into His heart not away from Him. What I find is that it is my understanding of God that has always been the cause and flaw in my faith. God remains true, or as an old mystic Meister Eckhart put it, “God is at home, it is we who have gone out for a walk.”

I think creativity and spiritual aspects are directly related as part of a God design of man and woman created in the image of God. I think actively creative people sense spiritual things more readily; no proof of that—just an observation.

CS:Is the act of painting spiritual? Do you feel that your paintings have an element of spirituality in them, or are your paintings more about compositions, color, form, etc?

Stephen Shortridge: I think when we create it is revealing of what is inside of us. That can be alarming at times. As I mentioned earlier, I feel the creative is a very particularly spiritual endeavor regardless of the subject matter. What we create has never been created before. That poem or painting or thought didn’t exist before the day they were created. That we can create all the time, everyday, is beyond our understanding but within our reach. A quote from Created Creator is a serious question of mine; “I often wonder what beauty doesn’t exist because we didn’t create it?”

 

Stephen Shortridge

“Lessons in Humility” Stephen Shortridge, oil

I haven’t painted many purely “spiritual” paintings. I have painted during church services and worship times and a few weeks ago painted my version of one of my favorite paintings by artist Ford Madox Brown, “Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet.” It was originally done in 1859 and in a very realistic style, much like a Waterhouse.  Of course painting Christ in church makes spiritual sense; but I think painting anything of beauty, anything fair, would still reflect a beauty, that for me, is still God’s. A mountain meadow, or children laughing, or an older couple walking holding hands—all of these are spiritual to me.

 

“What I will have to say about life and art is as much a warning as it is a blessing. And make no mistake; your art will not love you back. We can create love to “offer” someone else, but we cannot create a “thing” that loves us back.”     Stephen Shortridge

 

CS: Who are some of your favorite painters in history, and who are some of your favorite faith/inspirational figures in history?

 Stephen Shortridge: My first favorite painters were the Impressionists, Monet in particular. I still love them but have come to enjoy a lot broader group of styles. I have moved from the Impressionists to John Singer Sargent, and the one I currently like the best overall, is Joaquin Sorolla. He was a Spaniard who “painted like a pig eats.” I like that. When I am painting my best; it is when I paint with that abandon and freedom of a “pig eating.”

CS: Did you always strive for an impressionistic style in your painting, or did it come naturally?

Stephen Shortridge: Sacrifice exactness for creativity if you must, but never sacrifice creativity for exactness. I have always admired technical skills but have never found technical skills move me emotionally. I am more interested in the passion of creating than a finished product. I need to make something clear however, if you are going to sell this passion, not everyone will be buying. The profession of art is still where a buyer’s desire and ability to afford meet the artist’s interpretation and the cost. You can’t expect others to always appreciate what you do, but when they do, whether they buy or not; it’s a great meeting of “appreciations.” You should truly enjoy it when people “get you”—because many won’t.

 

Stephen Shortridge

“Family Fun” Stephen Shortridge, oil, “24 x 48”

 

CS: The title of your book refers to who you are and who you are becoming in life. How about your painting… As a romantic impressionistic painter, where do you feel you are going with your work?
 

Stephen Shortridge: I am currently working on several books at once. I have two sequels planned and another God book. I also, for artists, wanted to compile more practical information, but I still feel my greater emphasis is always to encourage why to paint—not how. I think artists waste too much time not failing well. The sooner you can get the failures out-of-the-way you can have successes. I had someone come up to an art show and she shared that she had started painting classes. She went on to tell me that she had been working on the same painting for two months. I said, “That’s too bad. You only have one bad painting instead of dozens.” Remember: People will only see the work you offer, but the courage to show your work at any level helps you produce better future work—and a thicker skin.

 CS: Do you have any advice you would like to pass along to young artists?

  Stephen Shortridge: Artists are so afraid of failing they don’t even risk success. My advice to you is to paint hard, paint often, and badly if that’s all you can do. No one has to see your failures. I realize after all these years that I have been selling my practice pieces in galleries. The ones that sold were the best practice pieces.

 

“I hope you will accept how special you are, how needed you are, and how important it is for you to create uniquely. And that you begin contributing to this beauty that waits to be revealed by you— and for you to play and enjoy in its presence.”   Stephen Shortridge

 

 

Stephen Shortridge

“Waiting for You”, Stephen Shortridge, 30″ x 40″, oil

 

 

Stephen Shortridge in Closing

 

My deepest thanks to Stephen Shortridge for taking time for this interview. Be sure and check out more  Romantic Impressionistic paintings  from Stephen Shortridge by going to the Painter’s Chair Fine Art Gallery website, owned by Stephen and his wife Cathy. You can also connect with Stephen Shortridge on Facebook by typing Stephen Shortridge in the search box.

“With God, there is a peace that passes performance – and in the face of  “man’s religion,”  a love that endures all appearances.  Stephen Shortridge

 

If you would like to see older, historic impressionist paintings, check out this article – “An Exhibit on Impressionism with a Twist”.    

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