An Interview with Steven Kozar

June 6, 2018
An Interview with Steven Kozar

''Door County Sunset' Watercolour, 38 x 56cm

What is your artistic process/ How do you work?


“I’m always observing, so I would say that’s the starting point of everything; I can’t really turn off my observational nature at this point in life. When I’m out specifically to find new subject matter I’m more deliberate about what I’m observing, and of course I’ve got my camera with me to capture ideas. I try to think about the composition before I take a photograph, because I’m looking for something really special in every shot. I want to look my photos and be inspired by all the great images I’ve got to chose from. This is where I’m at right now: I’ve got the best images of my career waiting to be painted. Light, color, texture, composition and emotion are probably the elements I’m most interested in; and if there’s a dash of irony or whimsy, that’s even better. I make a very accurate line drawing as the foundation to every painting, and then it’s a million layers of paint on top of that.”


Has your work changed since your early days? How has your work evolved?


“I grew up on the edge of the suburbs-right between the suburbs and farmland. I lived in downtown Chicago for a brief time while attending art school (The American Academy of Art) and I really enjoyed the change of scenery and the energy of the city. After moving out of the city I gained a newfound appreciation for the wide open space of the farmland and spent much of my time depicting it in my paintings-often using a panoramic format. Although I still love the rural landscape and I live near farms and fields, I have found myself drawn to urban environments again. I’ve captured a great deal of small town “urban” landscape ideas with buildings, roads and such over the past decade. In 2016 I spent 3 weeks in Brussels, France (both Paris and Strasbourg), and London and I took over 5,000 new photographs! There are so many things that I enjoyed capturing in that time: the unusual and often muted colors of the buildings, the texture and design of the older architecture, and the greater sense of history than I’m used to seeing-it was all very inspiring.”


When did you start exhibiting with Plus One Gallery? Has this relationship influenced your artistic development?


“I’ve been with Plus One since 2015. I wanted to be represented in a gallery that would attract hyper-realism collectors who already had an interest in that genre. Because my work is so realistic, I didn’t want to exhibit at a gallery where my work could be mistaken for photography and overlooked. Since I’ve got a gallery representing me in Europe it has made good sense to also paint subject matter from Europe, although that wasn’t the plan when I began, and I’m sure that I will paint other subjects as well.”


''Old World Rainy Morning', Watercolour,  32 x 48cm

You paint primarily in watercolour, have you experimented with other mediums? Why is this your preferred technique?


“I’m most comfortable with watercolour since it is the medium I’ve used the most, and I think I’ve pushed the medium to a level that makes my work stand out. I do enjoy using oil and acrylics, too, but I only have so much time to work and I just can’t do it all. It seems that the people who understand the difficult nature of watercolour have the greatest admiration for my work, and I want to keep that admiration going!”


Most recently your paintings have depicted places outside of the US, is this a new direction for you?

“Yep!” (see previous answer)


Your paintings reference your travels, could you explain how you begin painting urban landscapes and what it is that appeals to you?


“I tend to see landscapes in an abstract way. I see shapes, colors, and textures within a composition more than I see a specific physical place (even though I do see the physical place!). Basically, there are more interesting shapes, colors and textures in an urban environment, to my eye. When I was in Paris, for example, I spent three days talking to no one-literally (it helped that I don’t speak French, of course). I enjoyed spending every moment as an outside observer who was looking at everything in terms of composition, in an almost impersonal way. And the best part? It rained while I was out photographing at dusk! I love the look of reflections, and when I successfully depict them in my paintings it becomes almost magical. I’m hoping to achieve a visual feast for the eyes in my artwork, and I find different things visually interesting as time goes by and my taste changes.”


'Rainy Evening In Paris'  Watercolour 29 x 29cm

Light is extremely important within your compositions, it creates a romantic atmosphere. Is this your intention?


“Romantic is kind of a loaded term, but yes, I would say that I’m hoping to create an emotional response from the viewer. The easiest way for me to determine whether or not a painting will have an emotional atmosphere is to simply close my eyes and remember how I felt when I was there. The specific light of every single scene is of primary importance and I strive to depict it accurately; all of the detail is the icing on the cake.”


What are you currently working on?


“I’m finishing up my first painting depicting a street scene in Paris. That city is almost too easy to paint, because it’s so visually evocative. I’m hoping to find the balance between the obviously beautiful and the slightly ambiguous.”


Where are you traveling to next?

“I don’t have any big travel plans at the moment, but I really hope to “cross the pond” again soon!”


'Cedarburg Mill Sunset'  Oil on panel 41 x 51cm


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