Some people say life begins after high school. Others insist it really begins after retirement. But life, which goes on whether we choose to jump into it with joy or not, progresses forward when we move, learn, breathe, experience, get out, experiment, turn off the TV, take chances and just plain, well, live. When we wait, and wait, and wait, we don’t get to the things that we really want to do.
And that’s a waste of human creativity.
Artist Steph Bucci discovered this years ago when she found herself repeating the same sentence to her husband, Bud:
“When we retire . . . I want to learn watercolor.
“I don’t know why I relegated the idea to a retirement pastime, or what kept me from pursuing it earlier.”
Why Wait? And Wait, and Wait?
But life, which was moving forward, invited her to join on the journey. With retirement far off in the horizon, she found herself with a home decor project to complete now.
“We felt some existing artwork no longer worked as well in its space.
“When costs for a replacement piece seemed high, Bud — always my great encourager and steady ally — said, ‘I think you can do it!'”
She did some research, bought paint, experimented on 4×6 practice canvases. She made mistakes, learned from those mistakes, and kept at it. Little realizing how different working on mini-canvases is from the 42 x 60 piece she was aiming to create, she refused to give up. Eventually, she finished the project, successfully.
“The painting still hangs in the living room, and my long-term desire to try watercolor was launched.”
A self-motivated student who learns best by reading and imitating, Bucci has worked in watercolor, batik watercolor, mixed media, colored pencils, markers, and acrylics. Describing herself as a minimalist, the West Richland, WA, artist paints out of a studio consisting of a small desk in her guest room, a couple shelves in the closet, and a petite, highly portable pochade box she made from two wooden cigar boxes, which hold her limited paint palette of eight colors, plus a tube of white gouache.
Small Space, Big Living
In this small space she works on big things, including illustrations for two children’s books about a rescued Golden Retriever named Gus. The first book in the series won three awards, including the Royal Dragonfly and Moonbeam, recognizing exemplary work in both editorial content and illustration.
Bucci approaches each project, each new technique, with an energy that carries her through, up, and over the learning curve. For a year, she focused on stylized cat paintings, experimenting with subject matter and composition, and incorporating, in many of the images, a small mouse.
“My dad’s pet nickname for me as a child (I’m petite) was ‘Mouse,’ or ‘Miss Mouse.” Early on in my painting experience I decided to include a mouse in my cat images as a pointer to that dear memory.
“The Mouse doesn’t make an appearance in 100% of the paintings, and her shape and style vary, but she’s getting more consistent. She embeds a touch of ‘Father’s Love’ in my images in a way I experienced it as a child.”
Indeed, in all her work, the image of a Father’s love is always in the background. It is what inspires her to create, with everything she creates, beautiful things that are to be used and enjoyed.
A Father’s Love, and Creativity
“I believe appreciation of beauty and creativity is placed in all human beings by our Creator . . . and that it pleases Him when we use the abilities He’s given to express His creation in a meaningful way.
“I also think it pleases Him, as it does me, when I try to develop skills of expression. He enjoys my practice and my outcomes, and He’s really the source of all the creativity and skill.”
And no doubt He is also pleased that Bucci has chosen to live her life, as opposed to just waiting things out, as she discovers more about the world she lives in when she continues to explore it.
“Painting has brought me into contact with a wonderful new world of friends, people who have enriched my life, amazed me with their giftings, and encouraged me to branch out,” she reflects.
“I am so glad my husband encouraged me to take the plunge into the art world.”
Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.