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Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. ~ Picasso

Picasso’s quote was the inspiration for the SoulDuster website. I recently sat down with Stephen, the artist behind the website, and asked him why “soul-duster” is important to him.

I Did It My Way
I Did It My Way, by Stephen SoulDuster

ME: Why SoulDuster?

Stephen: I want the name of the website to reflect what my art is about. To me, art is a way for me to vent. I am the elder boy in my family. Growing up, I was supposed to be the sensible one, no complaint, no fussing. I kept the feelings to myself. Luckily, I found an outlet. It was easier for me to paint my feelings than to voice it. Drawing my stories is like soul-dusting to me. That’s the reason behind SoulDuster.

I think my friend, Margaret Carpenter Arnett, would agree with me. Margaret is an art therapist. Throughout her career, she has helped many people use art to open up to their bottled feelings. Recently she wrote a few articles for us on this topic. Very intriguing.

ME: What do you paint?

Stephen: I paint stories and I paint songs, which is another passion of mine. I like to use my art to tell stories, and reflect my viewpoints. As soon as I have an idea for a painting, I start looking for a song, or poem or quote depending on the occasion, that carries the same message. I go through the song and lyrics in my head when I paint. It heightens my emotions and helps me focus.

I always encourage my audiences to sing or recite along, which can help them interpret the paintings and how the meaning relates to their own emotions and life experiences.

ME: Do you have some examples of the stories you have painted?

Stephen: Sure. I started painting my own stories and memories. I like to think that memories tell who you are and how you got here.

My earlier paintings started with my blue phase. For example, in “Uphill Battle” and “I Did It My Way”, I painted a period when I had many struggles, how I fought my way up, and chose my course of action. As the layers of the painting piled onto the canvas, my experiences also solidified upon me. I came to accept that my experiences are forever part of me and make me who I am today. So it is a satisfying learning experience.

As Aristotle said, “the aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance”. Creating art is fun. But I also treasure what I learn about myself along the way.

Uphill Battle
Uphill Battle

Leap Of Faith I Leap Of Faith II

ME: Does your work show how your viewpoints have changed over time?

Stephen: I painted “Leap of Faith I & II” at a crossroads of my life, when I made the conscious career choice to focus on art. The two paintings were done a few years apart. I am astonished to see how different they came out. “Leap of Faith I” was drawn right after I made the big leap. As you can gather, I was excited but very cautious at the same time, surveying the landscape constantly. Few years into the change, I, not knowing it consciously, was truly able to make the leap by jumping into the unknown and ready to explore whatever it is ahead of me. The unconscious had spoken.

Leap Of Faith I Leap Of Faith II

ME: Have the stories you paint change over time?

Stephen: After I went through the blue phase, I was able to open up to my other experiences – love, reminiscences, inspirations, aspirations, and yes even, mistakes.

My sweet dream series portrays relationships. I love the “When We Were Small”. Apparently, others agree. It won the third place award in a juried art show. When we are busy and frustrated, don’t we sometimes want to escape and be in a bubble shielded away from the hustle of the world and just be ourselves? That is exactly what the painting is about. The kids are shielded from the background noise and just be themselves in their own world. Power of love speaks.

When We Were Small

ME: How about inspirations?

Stephen: In my inspiration series, I emphasized the wisdoms of many before us. In the Pacific Northwest, “Here Comes The Sun” may literally be the wish of many in April. And it is the same in life. There are periods when we feel like everything isn’t working out, but we need to remind ourselves that there is hope on the horizon.

Here Comes The Sun

ME: What’s next for you?

Stephen: I am exploring with clay now and would like to integrate them into my paintings. You’ll see more of that coming to the website.

ME: Wonderful. Stephen, thank you for sharing your journey with me.

Just a reminder, many of the paintings discussed in this interview can be found in Stephen’s 2020 calendar. It is a wonderful gift to be enjoyed year round. The paintings are also available as art prints and journals

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