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A Soldier’s Canvas

03/31/2011 12:51PM, Published by Anonymous, Categories:

Brian Steverson freely admits that he is living the best of both worlds.

A paratrooper at Fort Bragg, Steverson has the rugged looks and tough-guy persona of the former athlete that he is. But Steverson also has a softer side. The 47-year-old husband, father, soldier and sports lover is a professional artist. His paintings are evidence of another passion.

“My father was a soldier who loved sports, and my mother was an artist who loved to paint,” Steverson says. “I’m not as good as either one of them, but I’m blessed to have some of each in me.”

Steverson can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t heavily involved in both of his passions. He began drawing as soon as he “could pick up a pencil” and played sports “from the beginning.”

He tackled his first painting at age 11, and he was a successful high school football player who taught tae kwon do for years.

Steverson, who has had no formal training except for pointers from his mother, paints from pictures taken personally or by friends and from memory. His paintings range from realism to impressionism. He has done wall paintings as well as canvas works using what he calls an “oddball” way of painting.

“I only use three colors beside black and white,” he says. “I only use red, blue and yellow, mixing those combinations until I find just the color combination I want.”

A native of Florida, Steverson has been stationed at Fort Bragg since 2004. He recently began painting scenes of downtown Fayetteville. “I like the way the renovations are going,” he says.

“Hay Street has become one of my favorite subjects.”

He has painted a number of Fayetteville scenes, including one of the Market House, one of the old Capitol building – now Docks at the Capitol – and several of different businesses. Steverson plans to be downtown, displaying his work, at the Dogwood Festival this month.

But you can usually find him painting at his home in the Summerhill neighbood. Steverson says he paints mostly at night. “I am an insomniac,” he says. “I usually paint from about nine in the evening until one in the morning.”

He estimates that he has painted more than 400 pieces, some of his works selling in the $500 to $900 range. “But most of what I’ve painted, I usually end up giving away to family and friends,” he says.

Steverson’s wife, Cindy, is one of his biggest inspirations. “She will see something or take a picture of something and ask, ‘Can you paint this?’” he says. His portfolio includes a wide range of subjects including landscapes, buildings and nature scenes.

One of his pieces, of a deserted castle in Italy, currently is on display at Cape Fear Studios, the downtown artists’ cooperative where he is a member. It is somewhat unusual to have soldiers as member artists at Cape Fear Studios, according to Executive Director Chris Kastner. Steverson is one of two active military members. The other is currently deployed.

“The unique thing about Brian is that he has taken an interest in painting scenes of downtown Fayetteville,” Kastner said. “He is very active in our membership meetings, and he is actively selling his works.”

Like the other member artists at Cape Fear Studios, Steverson volunteers at least four hours a month. He also displays his work at the offices of Up and Coming magazine. He has done paintings for special occasions like military retirements and he does lots of works by request. He is currently trying to create a Web site to promote and display his art.

But he might be one of the few artists who can boast of shows both at the Fayetteville Museum of Art and at Pope Air Force Base.

Steverson does not fit the description of what some would picture when they think of an artist. His clean-cut GI haircut and chiseled soldier looks make him stand out in an art studio. He looks like he would be more comfortable on a football field. But don’t let looks fool you; Steverson’s art speaks for his ability.

The life of a soldier can be stressful. Steverson says painting has a calming effect on him. “When I am painting, I put everything else out of my mind,” he says. “It is a way for me to escape and relax.”

In addition to his work, Steverson has three children, daughters Laura, 18, and Lana, 16, and a son, Tristan, 11. Of the three, Tristan has followed more in his father’s footsteps. “He likes to draw a lot,” Steverson says.

Work and family obligations don’t leave a lot of time for art. In addition to being a member of Cape Fear Studios, Steverson also belongs to the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County and the Fayetteville Arts Guild. But Steverson says he would one day love to try sculpting.

“I can’t afford it right now, but I would love to sculpt life-sized statues of people,” he said.

Maybe someday someone will sculpt a statue of Steverson, a study in contrasts if there ever was one. It isn’t every day you meet a former football player with a paintbrush.


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