J. Steven Patton: MVA Open Studios

J Steven Patton Studio.jpg

Manufacturers Village Artist Studios, located in an 1880’s historic industrial complex at 356 Glenwood Avenue in East Orange, NJ, will feature the work of over 60 different artists at its annual open studios weekend, Friday 10/15 (VIP Preview) and Saturday thru Sunday from 11-5, 10/16 and 10/17.

J. Steven Patton is an Oil Painter and Pastel artist currently working out of his Manufacturer’s Village studio in East Orange, NJ.  He began painting at the age of fourteen and studied privately with local artists prior to earning a college degree in Fine Art from The College of New Jersey.  Upon graduating he worked for several years as a designer then embarked on a thirty six year career in sales and marketing. In 2019 Patton began devoting his full attention to his painting practice.  This second career is his true calling and passion.  He is a member of Studio Montclair, Sussex County Arts & Heritage Council and the New Jersey Pastel Society.  His work has been exhibited in several group shows in New Jersey and may be found in private collections.  

Tell me about yourself and your art.

My painting is rooted in Figurative Expressionism as there is usually a human figure or portrait found in my work. I am influenced by film, news, history and classic art for my content.  My artistic influences derive from the Fauvists and early expressionists, particularly Munch, Soutine, Kokoschka and deKooning.  I love their bold color, line, texture and unusual perspectives. There are many societal/political parallels in early 20th Century Europe to the present time that I am exploring in my art. I am drawn to the dissonance of those times so my work can tend to be dark at times.

What will we see in your Studio?

I like to keep most of my work visible in the studio as a reminder of my process and growth. Currently high above the work area are chronologically ordered oil on canvas head figures that were completed in 2020. There is a saying that posits everyone has three faces, the one you show to the world, the one you show to those closest to you and the one that is hidden to all but yourself. I’m always searching for what’s inside when I paint a face.

I also have many pastel pieces I like to source from silent movie stills of the 1910’s and 20’s. It’s fun creating the color palette and values from these high contrast black and white photo references. I also love the bold brushstrokes and intense color choices of the Fauvists and Expressionists of the period. I am finding that my oils are becoming more like my pastels and vice versa. In fact, I am working on incorporating pastel and oil together. Finally, my more recent works focus on socially conscious and/or psychological themes. These compositions and stories enter my mind when I meditate or when I am on the verge of falling asleep. 

Sigh of Bridges, 2021, Oil on Canvas, 30 X 30.jpg

Sigh of Bridges, 2021, Oil on Canvas, 30” X 30”

This painting just grew as I was meditating. I’m quite sure it comes from reflecting on my life past as I am embarking on new paths. 

Ghost Dance, 2021, Oil on Canvas 30 X 30.jpg

Ghost Dance, 2021, Oil on Canvas, 30” X 30”

This painting was inspired by a documentary entitled “Exterminate all the Brutes”.  There was a section on the Native American Ghost Dance religion and the brutal slaughter of its proponents that I needed to paint to express my rage.