Art not only can enhance one’s life; the process of creating it has also been known to change one’s life as well.
That’s what happened to Stephen Griffin when he discovered at an early age that his artistic aptitude helped to transform a learning disability he struggled with into a rewarding life-long passion.
This spring, as part of the Avalon Foundation’s celebration of Plein Air-Easton’s (PAE) tenth anniversary, the award-winning artist will share his passion for creating art with advanced art students in Talbot County high schools during a week-long residency.
Funded by a grant from the Marcia Brady Tucker Foundation, the teaching residency is facilitated by a partnership among the Avalon Foundation (which was awarded the grant), the Talbot County Board of Education, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM), and Attraction Magazine. In addition to the performances that the Avalon Foundation provides to 5 elementary Talbot County Public School grades through its Young Audiences & Outreach Program, this residency will expand the outreach program to local area high school students.
“We are absolutely thrilled with this opportunity to bring a world-class artist like Stephen Griffin here to work closely with talented art students in our local public high schools,” said Al Bond, executive director of the Avalon Foundation. “This is also a great way to support the year-round efforts of art teachers with an immersive instruction experience by a nationally recognized, professional painter.”
Griffin, who is the only PAE artist to be juried each year since the prestigious art festival began a decade ago, will begin his Talbot County residency on April 15 by introducing plein air oil painting techniques to 30 art students (11 from St. Michaels High School and 19 from Easton High School).
The plein air painting style takes artists out of the abstract studio setting and out into the “open air” to capture the light and mood of real-world scenes on their canvases.
“Observing and learning plein air techniques from Mr. Griffin will not only help students see that a career as a professional artist is attainable,” said Kathy Dill, fine arts supervisor with Talbot County Public Schools. “It will also help to inspire a lifelong appreciation of the fine arts as well.”
After three days of Griffin’s intensive classroom instruction (April 20-22), the students will engage in a plein air “paint-off” at CBMM on April 23 from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., in which community artists will be on hand to offer guidance to students.
In addition to recruiting Griffin and assisting in coordinating residency activities, the Avalon Foundation will also supply students with painting materials, easels, and transportation to CBMM.
Originally from Pennsylvania, Stephen Griffin studied at the esteemed Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia before moving to Maryland in 1993 to study with renowned portrait artists Cedric and Joanette Egeli.
Griffin, who has won several awards at PAE (such as Best Marine category for his work entitled “Eastern Shore Heritage”), says he has a special affinity for painting scenes from the Chesapeake Bay, especially around the Eastern Shore.
“I love to capture the beauty and spirit of the Eastern Shore,” he said. “The dialects of people, the way the wind runs up the water, the shapes of boats that are designed for specific purposes. There is no other place like it.”