03 Jan Artist Spotlight: Stephen Baldwin
Stephen Baldwin is a native Charlottean who studied Commercial Art and Design at Central Piedmont Community College, but considers himself mostly self-taught. He and his wife Connie have been active in the arts for over 40 years. They have two children, Andrew and Anna, the latter following in her father’s footsteps in the arts. Stephen’s love of nature is reflected in his beautiful garden at his home, where some of the flora are subjects of his artwork.
When did you start your career in art? How long have you known you wanted to be an artist?
I have painted all my life. I studied Commercial Art and Advertising Design and when I started that, I went to work part-time for Coffey & Thompson in 1970. I have two uncles who are artists so I grew up in that environment and have always been drawn to artistic pursuits.
Describe your aesthetic in 3 words…
Color, Rhythm, Silk.
In making hand-painted silk scarves, what inspires you the most?
Music and Nature
A random fact about you?
I am as comfortable using a chainsaw as I am using a water-color brush!
What is your favorite material to work with?
Habotai silk, chiffon, or crepe de Chine. All of those respond to color, dyes and inks and they are good fabrics to work with.
Describe your artistic process and preparation?
Most of my work, whether it be silk or watercolor or oil, comes from my love of nature. I always loved natural things and even my children have grown up with that love of nature. Actually now, they are both biology teachers! I have illustrated a book of North Carolina seashells and cookbooks, as well as other publications. I have been retired from the nursery business for 12 years and I’m an avid gardener in our garden which has been featured in national and regional magazines such as Better Homes & Gardens, Charlotte Magazine and Carolina Gardener just to name a few.
Who inspires you personally and/or professionally?
There have been lots of people who have inspired me! My watercolors sometimes have an Andrew Wyeth feel. Most everything I paint is nature related. I worked at Coffey & Thompson for 15 years and Mr. Paul Thompson certainly inspired me as well. I think now the journey some of my pieces have taken over the years is inspiring now that some of my pieces that I did in 1969 and before have started to make their way back home.
Favorite location to create/what is your studio like?
My studio is filled with everything I like, especially my sound system. I listen to music all the time from Patsy Cline to Willie Nelson to Classical Music, and I am surrounded by all my favorite things, including plants and seashells.
One thing you couldn’t live without?
My family, my garden, my pigeons, my dog and my paintbrushes. It is so hard to just choose one!