Artistic Excellence 2017 | Honorable Mention: Stephanie Deshpande

New Jersey

Stephanie Deshpande, Sleeping Child, oil, 24 x 30.

Stephanie Deshpande, Sleeping Child, oil, 24 x 30.

In her contemporary figurative paintings, Stephanie Deshpande often explores personal allegorical narratives, but in her winning entry, she depicts a more universal experience: the elusive yet powerful dream world. Deshpande’s inspiration for the painting developed after she awoke one summer morning from a compelling dream. “It changed my perspective on something, so it had a lot of impact on me,” she says. “Instead of making a painting of the dream itself, I thought I’d focus on someone dreaming. I like the fact that people are in their own shell, and our dreams are so imaginative. You feel like you’re in touch with the universe.”

Prior to completing her figurative works, Deshpande photographs her models as they act out certain ideas she has in mind, but the artist works from life when painting florals and other still lifes. Dramatic contrasts between light and dark intrigue her, and thus nearly all her works feature chiaroscuro painting, she says. In fact, the artist is teaching a workshop on the old-master technique at the Scottsdale Artists’ School in May.

Deshpande studied painting at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and earned a master’s degree in fine art from the New York Academy of Art. She has long been inspired by John Singer Sargent and other classical realists, but she describes herself as a spontaneous and swift painter. “I go back and forth between achieving a more Sargent-esque look and doing whatever the painting needs me to do,” she says. “I think sometimes, if a painting looks too realistic, it might not have that otherworldly quality to it. It’s a balancing act.” Find Deshpande’s work at Arundel Contemporary, West Sussex, England, and Haynes Galleries, Thomaston, ME.

This story was featured in the December 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art December 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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