Paintings by this week’s Dan’s Papers cover artist, Stewart Seidman, not only reflect diverse interests but also a love of life. Looking at Seidman’s myriad images is like experiencing the whole world at once: the young and old, music, sports, art, politics, places, cultures. Consider his paintings showing his father at 96 years old, images of Ben Shahn, Satchmo and a street scene in Italy: all subjects with special meaning for Seidman.
Q: Your art includes such a variety of subjects. How do you decide what to paint?
A: I paint what I feel like I want to paint. I face the blank canvas; the narrative starts to take place. I don’t like to dwell on what I paint. I like the spontaneity.
Q: Where do you get inspirations for your varied subjects?
A: From my travels in Spain, France, Italy. I do quick sketches and then finish the images at home.
Q: You are able to capture so many different settings and moods this way. You must be good at observation.
A: As an artist, you walk the streets and see things other people don’t see.
Q: I’m curious how you grew up and how that contributed to your penchant for painting what you do.
A: I grew up in Brooklyn. I was interested in athletics like my friends, but I had a different wrinkle. I was a tough kid, an athlete, and I had the ability to draw. My friends were tough, too, but they would ask, “Can you draw a picture for me?” My father encouraged me to paint when he saw me doing a picture of Jack Dempsey, the boxer. After all, I was into sports. I still like to do portraits of athletes.
Q: What was a turning point at this time regarding your art?
A: I enrolled in a high school specializing in art. It was a great mentoring school, and I still remember my teacher who was one of those guys who touched you.
Q: After high school, what did you do to put your training to work?
A: I went into advertising. It was a whole new world then in the 1960s for advertising where we learned a craft. Ideas counted. Nowadays it’s all about the computer. I tell young people, ideas start in the head, not in the computer.
Q: Besides painting, you also have a business, which is another indication of your vast interests.
A: I have a business called Sensational Scents. I create products people can smell before they buy a particular item. My first clients involved the fine fragrance companies.
Q: What specific companies did you work with at first ?
A: Carolina Herrera; we made three million scent samples for her fragrance division. And then I worked with Estee Lauder. Then it was the Colgate Company for non-perfume products like FAB and Speed Stick.
Q: I assume that your art background helped you in your business.
A: My art helped me see things from a different perspective.
Q: What are you working on now as far as art goes?
A: I’m painting images on FedEx envelopes, because one day I was out of canvas and I had saved all these FedEx envelopes. I put the envelopes on the floor and then started to paint with a paint stick. The background became the canvas.
Q: What kind of images are you doing now?
A: My new subjects include a big bull and a horse.
Q: Why those images?
A: I look for passion in my subjects. Bulls have that and strength.
Q: So passion is important. What else is important in your art?
A: I want the viewer to experience the emotion that I felt when I painted the image.
Call Stewart Seidman at 631-725-0682 for more information.