This Was Our Shangrila
Like many artists, I have been painting since childhood. I almost left it all behind, however, after getting my art degree at the university.
Fortunately, time and wisdom intervened, and I was able to move past the prescriptivist teaching of some very kind, but limiting people. I do not like painting gritty urban scenes. I don’t like violent art. I do not gravitate toward ugliness and shock value. These, I was taught, are what’s “in” among a select group, but, as it took me years to discover and joyfully accept, I am not part of this group.
A country boy who grew into a country man, I like beauty, peace, quiet, and space to move around in. In my paintings, I seek to bring about feelings of freedom, joy, happiness, thoughtfulness, contemplation, and contentment. Throughout the years, various viewers and buyers have told me, “I feel like the person in your painting,” or, “I can step into that landscape and fall into a sense of serenity.”
I love hearing this.
I love hearing this.
I believe that we are all given gifts, gifts which, when we spend the time and effort in opening, discovering, and using, can then be given back to the world around us. That is what I seek to do through my art: to take people on a journey of discovery, to invite them into a place of peace, to prompt them into confidently walking forth on their own path.
Reality does not always have to be harsh, cruel, greedy, thoughtless, mean. Such elements exist in our world – in far too great a quantity – but when we focus too strongly upon them, we forget that reality also consists of goodness, compassion, honesty, integrity, innocence, and joy.
Representational visual art, because it is quiet and does not feature a talking head, allows the artist to start a story that the viewer discovers, interprets, and adds to. It is an honor for me to start that story.
Steve Henderson is an artist who lives in Washington state. To learn
All photos are original artwork by Steve Henderson and may not be used without the artist's permission. For additional information or commissions, please visit his website.