By now, Dan’s Papers readers will instantly recognize a Mike Stanko cover. The bold outlines and solid colors are the Long Island native’s signature style, as are unique takes and perspectives on iconic East End locales.
What was the inspiration for this piece?
The Montauk Lighthouse has always been a favorite stop for [my wife] Karen and I, but this past August we noticed a bench, the same style as the ones in a park in our hometown of Valley Stream. Both the lighthouse and the bench tugged at my heart and I knew right then I wanted to paint the scene.
Your distinctive art style is very recognizable. What initially drew you to the bold colors and black outlines?
Years ago I painted cows in a field, but when it was finished it looked bland. I took some black paint to shadow, it turned into an outline, and it just popped! I tried it again on a floral and, again, POP! I never turned back. Bright colors, for me, are happy, and the black outlines make the colors brighter and happier, and that defines my style.
This cover has a fall theme—what do you love most about the season?
Obviously, the changing colors of the leaves—vibrant and bold reds, yellow and oranges. I love it. I wish it could stay like this forever, or at least till spring.
What is your proudest moment as an artist?
I’ve donated a number of paintings to Memorial Sloan Kettering and Ronald McDonald House and occasionally hear that, despite what people are going through, for one fleeting moment as they pass my paintings, a little sunshine is added to their day.
Talk about your collaborations with poet L.S. Bassen.
L.S. Bassen’s husband, Michael, was my 10th grade English teacher—an all-time favorite. Many years later, we reconnected and started a real friendship. I was honored when his wife, author/poet Lois, was inspired by my work and wanted to put words to it. That’s how our ongoing collaboration began. As a matter of fact, a few of the pieces are in her new book, What Suits a Nudist.
Aside from the Montauk Lighthouse, what are some of your favorite East End spots?
We just cannot go to Montauk without a first stop at the Clam Bar (which I’ve painted many times)! I love the Montauk Bake Shoppe’s jelly croissants, and of course the beach across from Lenhart’s Cottages on Old Montauk Highway. I could live there.
Find more Mike Stanko art at stankoart.com.