I came to painting when I was 20 in the same manner as I have followed its path since; not through calculation or decisive choice, but through following an intuitive imperative; a need for a direction grounded in deeper emotional sources. One could say it chose me, but then I was born for it. Romantic feeling and imagination had always led me to seek out private and unique places, and the cream of this kind of feeling drove my painting, especially landscape for many years.
It was during my first travels, in Morocco that the recognition of a path came to me, and it came immediately and in a completely rational moment of insight. I give credit to the profound experience of travel, and especially the completely sensual and immersed exotic experience of north africa. This was 1972, a time when europe, north africa and the middle east were relatively calm, traditional ways were still perceptible, and travel was cheap and safe. At the moment of recognition I felt that a life in which I could express as much of the mystery and magic around me would be acceptable and worthwhile.
The much larger trajectory of my career since that time cannot be paraphrased. There is the period of study at Ontario College of Art and my degree in Fine Arts at Mount Allison. There was the period in the late 90’s when I achieved my Masters in Art Therapy at Concordia University in Montreal. My book Surface Reflections by Bob Barriault does justice to describing the central directions and philosophies which have driven me throughout.
I have held to a fairly rigorous traditionalism in my painting, as it seemed a more direct responsiveness through observation would lead to less mannered or arbitrary stylization. In my later works I feel the degree of expressiveness suits the uncovering of less conscious and more directly emotional and preconscious undercurrents which underly the formation of myth, metaphor and symbol in representational painting.
Painter Stephen Scott’s emphasis is a focus on subject and lyrical subjective representation. The transcendent experience which Scott seeks through painting is an attempt to fuse perceived universal truths through the juxtapositon of iconic symbolisms and surface as metaphor (lyrical constructions) in an effort to gain articulation in his painterly expression.
Stephen Scott has both a fine eye and hand. He often paints directly from nature and that gives value to the immediacy of his art. Stephen is also an unabashed romantic and that, in this time and age, is a very good thing when so many of us are trying to be pragmatic about everything in our lives. Today there seems to be little mainstream interest in landscape art perhaps because it does not fit readily into the Postmodern mode except perhaps as a vehicle for irony. But Stephen as a romantic — he paints landscape as a window to an understanding of nature, as a thing of beauty. There is only his sense of that what was before his eyes waiting to be discovered by him and now shared with us.
Scott has an unmatched ability to paint many worlds coexisting in each and every image. On a beach at Agadir he met his muse. From that point on, he put his hand to showing the worlds that can be reclaimed in the experience of a single painting. He creates not only as a record of place, but as points of departure for losing ourselves in the experience of art and travelling back into the uncharted places we thought we knew.
Painting is simply Stephen Scott’s way of exploring the world. Whether a landscape along the St. John River, a street scene in Berlin or a portrait, his is an effort to discover something universal about us and the world we inhabit. His act of painting is a kind of probing, a remarkable communion between subject and painter. Painting is an expressive act, using paint upon the surface of the canvas to get inside the subject.
Stephen Scott draws beautifully. With consummate command of eye, hand, head and heart, he extracts a fluent non-verbal language from the landscapes he explores. For Scott, drawing is not simply a method for creating a semblance of the visible world, but a focused undivided process for giving graphic pictorial form to what his inner self sees and feels and thinks. I believe this is what Cézanne meant when he said “The landscape reflects itself, humanizes itself, thinks itself in me.”