(American, b. 1946)
Capano Bay, 2023
Oil on canvas
22 x 28 inches
Gift of Linda and William Reaves, The Linda and William Reaves Collection of Texas Art at UHV, 2023
The prodigious oil painter Steve Russell has been a major contributor to the Rockport Art Colony in Rockport, Texas, for more than forty years, and lives in the community to this day. North of Corpus Christi, on the edge of the Gulf, near Aransas Bay, Rockport is known to environmentalists, sport fishermen, and bird enthusiasts as a beautiful coastal area vibrantly full of wildlife and coastal landscapes. Russell highlights the beauty of this area with his vibrantly colorful impressionist paintings of gleaming waters, bright sunsets, and sea creatures. He calls the morning sunsets “that magic moment,” that only last about twenty minutes, when the light and the shadows tell the artist what his next painting will be. His elegant work, Capano Bay (2023), presents a tranquil Texas seascape with the tall grasses of the bay, birds from the nearby sanctuaries, and a glorious sunset—Russell’s favorite time of day to paint. Russel is keen to promote the area’s environmental preservation, as well as forming a wide breadth of knowledge of the history of the area. There is more than a touch of charm in the incredible textures of Russell’s works, seen in the sand, old trees, fluffy clouds, and rusty boats of many of his paintings, that display the artist’s love for his hometown. As for his art practice, Russell states, “In a way I just take a leap of faith and let the composition be what it wants to be.” While he has been known to paint landscapes from the Hill Country to the Gulf Coast, he can frequently be found searching for rusty boats, antiquated bait stands, or anything that the tides and marshes give up on the coastal sands.
Russell was born in 1946 in Rockport, Texas. He grew up around the waterfront, sailing and fishing with his family. He studied art at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi. Fittingly, the artist served in the Navy and later the Marine Corps during the Vietnam war. While stationed in San Diego he worked with other artists, mainly watercolorists, and he was able to hone his skills. After returning to the United States, he went to live near Tijuana, Mexico where he painted with his good friend Jose Gomez. Eventually he returned to Rockport to study with William Brigl, the man who became his mentor. Russell continues to live and work in Rockport, as is an active member of the local art community.
University of Houston-Victoria