Steven Baines’ oil paintings aim to be metaphors for the passage of time, the brevity of human life. They often continue the traditions of Vanitas and Momento Mori paintings. However they are not heavy or morbid. They are optimistic and humorous, like sad, dark lyrics in a catchy lighthearted melody. Sometimes within romantic settings and other times within bright bold abstractions, figurative images have been chosen for their symbolic value to represent the fragile and transitory nature of life: bubbles, monkeys, bones, birds, UFOs!
How did you get started working in oil paints?
I have always liked painting in oils, partly because I find it fun to bounce off of the history of oil painting, but also because other paints just don’t have the same richness. However, I can be jealous of people that are comfortable in faster, more immediate paints.
Where do you find inspiration for your whimsical pieces?
Inspiration can come from anywhere, but I look for things that can draw you in as beautiful and light, then able to contradict that and find the possibility for deeper thought and complex emotions. Whatever it is, I like to be able to go away with a feeling of fun in the end.
Is there anything you like to paint in particular?
I like painting things that can carry symbolic value like bubbles and ufos. I also keep being drawn back to birds. I like that they naturally show little emotion so you end up seeing what you want in them.They are beautiful, can fly and there is just no telling what they are thinking. Then again I like painting monkeys which are virtually impossible not to show emotion.
How has living/working in Brooklyn influenced your work?
I find working in Brooklyn has a very freeing effect. With so many different artists working and showing in Brooklyn, you are surrounded by a full spectrum of influences, but still able to scrunch up into yourself and explore what comes out of you specifically and not be worried about fitting in.
What’s next for you?
I have begun a body of work putting more emphasis on sky, . . . my sky phase! Also drawing. I will be having a show this spring at the New York Public Library and pieces at Brooklyn Fireproofs Temporary Storage Gallery and also frequently show at Stephen Romano Gallery in Bushwhick and AMP: Art Market Provincetown during the summer in Provincetown, MA.
To learn more, visit Steven Baines’ website.