Putting Feelings on Canvas

By Kelly Twedell 

Four years ago, Stephanie Bostock started painting full-time as a result of a very personal and powerful life-changing event. 

“Back in 2014, I learned that I had stage IVA thyroid cancer,” she said. 

After surgery and treatment, she was consumed by fear that the cancer would return. 

It was an overwhelming time. “I had to get a grip and focus on something before I fell off the deep end,” Bostock said. 

Her husband, Chris, encouraged her to express her emotions through painting. 

She did – and hasn’t stopped since. 

“It was an explosion, with all my fears, feelings and emotions pouring out of me and onto my canvas,” Bostock said. “It was an escape, a distraction, and it helped to clear my mind. You know, an ‘art yoga,’ so to speak – a way to meditate and express myself.” 

Others saw and appreciated her art and the Fayetteville resident has since found success, selling her work at local galleries and through relationships with interior designers. She also paints on or transfers her images to other surfaces, including clothing, which she calls “wearable art,” as well as items like trays, vases, phone cases and yoga mats. 

Mostly, though, she works on more traditional surfaces. 

“Painting allows me to express myself on canvas,” Bostock said. “For me, painting is therapeutic, a meditation and an outlet. I feel free when I have a brush in my hand and paint on my palette. The road I have traveled has given me new direction. It’s been one of my most difficult challenges as I am and I continue to be a ‘cancer survivor.’ Each new day is my inspiration, and so I will just paint until my heart is content and then… I’ll paint some more.” 

Born and raised in the Chicago area, Bostock graduated from Purdue University’s School of Design with a BA in Industrial Design. She has 20-plus years of print-media, marketing, industrial and graphic design in her background and said she painted occasionally before her cancer diagnosis but mostly representational pieces and at the request of others. 

“Nothing like this,” she said, looking around at the paintings that cover the walls of her small backyard studio. Most are abstract pieces that she said arise from however she’s feeling when she begins the piece. 

“It’s a way to channel my emotions,” she said. 

How did your home studio evolve?  

When I began painting again, I was painting in my kitchen and there were canvases, paints and brushes everywhere! Paint was flying! It was on the floor, the rug, the kitchen cabinets… everywhere. It was an amazing mess. 

My husband, Chris, would come home each evening to many new paintings and more and more mess. He was elated with my excitement, focus and determination. Seeing that I was enjoying each new day doing what I really loved. Channeling my energy as it was all spilling out of me, my many emotions expressed on canvas and coming from my heart. 

But he said, “Steph, you need to get the heck out of the kitchen!” 

So one afternoon, as I was peering out the kitchen window, I looked at our little shed out back and it hit me: I needed to be in there. I mean, it is totally en vogue for women to have their own space these days. It’s the new man cave, you know – the ‘she shed,’ for women. So after a very rapid conversion – skylights, raised ceilings, etc. – it went from a messy old shed to a sweet studio space all my own. It’s where the magic happens, and it’s perfect.  

When did you realize you wanted to make a career out of your art? 

As time passed, I began to share my work on social media and after multiple requests, I took a leap of faith and decided to sell my work. Some highlights include creating custom work, having my art displayed on the walls of friends’ homes and businesses, appearing in blogs and other magazines, working with interior designers and selling my art in area shops and galleries. I am so very thankful. 

What inspires your work? 

Each piece I create is a blessing, an adventure and a piece of my heart and soul. My inspiration is everywhere. I am sort of a visual sponge. I see color, texture, line, shape, pattern and design in everything. I work with many different mediums and utilize an assortment of styles and techniques. My work spans landscape, figurative, floral and abstract impressionism. When I paint, my music is always playing because it gives me energy. My true passion is large abstract work, where my brush stokes are bold and intuitive and my palette knife has rapid movement. Choosing paint colors, size and mediums is fun and it all depends on my mood. 

You have had many exhibitions; do you enjoy preparing for those or is it stressful? 

All I can say is, it has been just plain wonderful! I am so very lucky to be a part of a community that supports local artists. Over the past several years, I have made a point of getting to know many local art enthusiasts and artists like myself throughout our community. By working with them, I have been able to feature my art in their local shops and galleries. It has 

been a very busy, but very rewarding time.  

Three years ago, I launched into the world of art exhibitions. If I were able to describe my excitement, it was like giving a starving artist their first bite after not eating for years. My dream had come true and I felt like I was finally in that place I had been searching for. My passion had come to life. So what did I do? 

Well, I kept on painting and before I knew it, I had painted enough art for not one, not two, but three solo art exhibitions and one collaborative art exhibition thus far. Up to this point, it’s been a wild ride. The kind of ride you just don’t seem to want to get off of. If you know me at all, you will know that when I focus, I can make things happen.   

How did your wearable art come to fruition? 

My degree and education are in industrial and graphic design so I just did what comes naturally and took it a step further. My wearable art includes unique scarves, tops, yoga pants, skirts, jackets, bags and more. Then, of course, I could not stop there. So I created a line of other products to include yoga mats, phone cases, jewelry, pillow covers, coasters, glass trays and, well, the list goes on and on. 

Talk about how your life has changed since your cancer diagnosis. 

I was really depressed after the diagnosis and treatment. (But) it’s really what kind of got me going (as a painter). I don’t think I’d be out here doing what I’m doing if it hadn’t happened. Painting gives me a way to express what I’m feeling. I love what I’m doing. I love creating and I love to share my creations. And (laughs), it’s even better when someone wants to buy it! 

Bostock’s art is found in numerous local shops, including City Center Gallery and Books, Elements Salon, Lisa’s Custom Framing and Sophia’s Gift at An Affair to Remember, as well as at Vita Vite, two galleries in Raleigh. For more information, check her sites on Facebook, Instagram and the internet.