Honoring The Artist: Bernard Springsteel

This week’s cover by Bernard Herbert Springsteel is a perfect example of the artist’s recurring style and subject matter. It’s a shame we can’t show all of Springsteel’s work to prove the point, but we’re going to give it a try, nonetheless, through descriptions.

First, a bit of background about the artist which may help to characterize his art. His formal training came from Pratt Institute where he earned a BFA; his professional training derived from his long years as an art director for Good Housekeeping and McCall’s magazines. While Springsteel possesses a talent in the fine arts, his use of line from his illustration experience is noteworthy. It is this quality that contributes to his definitive sense of style: such a style is imbued with vitality, evoking the “light, shadow and beauty of form” which attract him.

Springsteel’s watercolors represent beauty of form in many ways: historic structures, seaside streets, alleyways, country landscapes. And the trait that unites these varied subjects? Character, no matter where the locale. Those locales are diverse as well, including the British Isles, Long Island, Brooklyn, Scotland and Greenport, close to Springsteel’s home.

Each place depicts either an individual structure or a venue in context. The cover, for example, features a single image of a weathered building with a window, or more precisely, a frame-within-a-frame. We want to know more. Where is this structure? What lies beyond the picture plane? What is the story behind this image? All of Springsteel’s watercolors, in fact, ask the same questions.

In many works, we are only seeing part of an edifice. Consider an unfinished church, a top floor of an Edinburgh structure or a building in Brooklyn. The worm’s-eye-view perspective adds a grandeur to the images and positions us on the scene as we look up. A sense of the past takes over as we imagine a different time and place, conveyed, for example, in Springsteel’s Marine Supply Store in Greenport.

Images that include a particular neighborhood also allow us to be present, especially applicable to a seaside street on the Isle of Man. (It brings back memories of a journey taken by this critic.) In these cases, the focus is on several objects, not merely one, which come together to form an overwhelming serene sensation.

Springsteel describes his watercolors in this way: “My watercolor paintings reflect somewhat different themes but, nevertheless, reflect the world as it is and particularly the way it was before us. I particularly like to find old homes and watercraft that have seen the test of time and now make a statement of their antiquity.”

Springsteel’s sculptures also recall the past with their emphasis on form. Unlike the artist’s watercolors, most of these works show the whole body (or head); we do not have to fill in our own details. Springsteel notes that his sculptures are “contemporary figurative and classical in scope, dealing with mythological and thematic figures, sometimes with humor. The classical human form and the relationships between humans intrigue me.”

Springsteel’s art intrigues us as well.


To find more information about Bernard Springsteel, contact him at: [email protected].

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