This story was featured in the July 2012 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Order the Southwest Art magazine July 2012 print edition here, or purchase the Southwest Art magazine July 2012 digital download here. Or simply click here to subscribe to Southwest Art magazine and never miss a story!
When Paul Steiner was 18, his grandmother hired him to build her an adobe house in northern New Mexico. Today, years later, Steiner still lives in that same home, where he is surrounded by the landscape he loves to capture on canvas. For him there is a certain rugged crustiness to not only the people who inhabit this terrain but also the land itself—a quality he finds provocative. “There is a history of people on the land that goes back centuries,” Steiner says. “People have figured out how to live in this not-very-hospitable land. Each blade of grass here struggles to survive, and the people tend to be similar—rough-edged and individualistic.”
Steiner came to painting later in life than many artists. The house he built for his grandmother led to a 35-year career as a carpenter. But the job became more and more physically challenging; in 2000 he enrolled in architecture and design classes at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque as he prepared for the future and a new career. Steiner also joined figure-drawing groups, and soon his thoughts turned to a possible career in fine art. He became especially intrigued by oil paint as a medium to pursue. “I liked the feel of the oil paint—the thickness and juiciness of it,” Steiner says. For him, the application of the paint itself eventually became as important as the subject he was painting.
By 2007, after a series of successful gallery shows, he realized he could support himself as a full-time artist, and he left his carpentry career in the sawdust. When it comes to favorite landscapes, Steiner—unlike many artists—eschews picture-perfect “postcard” scenes because they leave nothing to the imagination. Instead he focuses on places that reflect the struggles of man, flora, and fauna.
As this story was going to press, Steiner was preparing works for a solo show at Arroyo in Santa Fe—paintings that depict the modern world in a modern way. His creative process, he explains, is inspired by French painter Edgar Degas: “I don’t know anything about inspiration but only hard work and studying nature and the old masters.” —Bonnie Gangelhoff
Featured in the July 2012 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art magazine July 2012 digital download
Southwest Art magazine July 2012 print edition
Or click here to subscribe to Southwest Art magazine and never miss a story!
MORE RESOURCES FOR ART COLLECTORS & ENTHUSIASTS