Withstanding the Elements
Former musician and painter Bradford Stewart introduces
a new art collection designed entirely for outdoor display.
- Written byDarren Elms
Listening to jazz in his father’s design studio, Bradford Stewart knew at an early age he wanted to be a musician. Bored with practicing scales in music school, he dropped out and hit the road with an eight-piece funk/rock/jazz band. When the hectic life of a professional musician began to take its toll, he turned to painting.
“The process is the same,” says Bradford. “Start with a blank canvas and create something out of the imagination. In art, you start a painting with the groundwork, and build layer upon layer, as you would with orchestration. For me, creating a new work of art is a very similar process to composing a piece of music.”
The artist sees his work as very process-oriented, relying on a diverse series of ingredients to create the finished product.
“The combinations of materials and the way they are layered up, with 30 or 40 layers, is how the paintings develop,” Stewart shares. “I usually have an idea of what I’m going for when I start, but more often than not, a painting will take on a life of its own, based on the process.”
Stewart works closely with clients, and about a third of his paintings are commissioned, many from right here in the South Bay. “I enjoy the interaction with designers, architects, and art consultants and their clients. It actually stretches my visual vocabulary when I work in color ranges or other elements of painting that I might not otherwise do when I am free painting.”
One of his favorite designers is good friend Sally Sirkin Lewis, whose J. Robert Scott headquarters is located in nearby Inglewood. “She usually has the artwork foremost in mind when she designs a project, and she then builds the space around a key work of art,” Stewart says. “I love the way she makes the paintings a significant piece of the puzzle.”
His new, large-scale outdoor paintings, a series titled Art Outside, are not a complete departure from big-scale works produced in the past, though Stewart uses completely weather-resistant materials like aluminum and special kinds of enamels and paints designed to withstand the elements.
“Like everything I do, it’s an ongoing development in the materials,” he says. “I sometimes have more difficulty getting the feeling of energy and explosion in smaller paintings, which comes naturally when I work big.”
To see more of Stewart’s work, visit his gallery online at bradfordstewart.com.
Stewart’s paintings hanging in a Palos Verdes home
In 1864, Phineas Banning, one of the visionaries instrumental in the creation of the Port of Los Angeles, built a 23-room Greek Revival residence that housed several generations of the Banning Family.