Artist Profile: Steffie Wallace

THE UNPREDICTABLE WEATHER THAT COMES WITH OUR CHANGING CLIMATE DOMINATES STEFFIE WALLACE’S WORKS. STELLA MARTINO WRITES.

It was Irving Stone’s The Agony and the Ecstasy, which tells the story of Michelangelo, that first caused Melbourne-based artist Steffie Wallace to fall in love with art at the age of 16. But it was a move to the Kinglake ranges, north-east of Melbourne in the early 1990s that inspired her current professional practice. “I was fascinated with the mists and fog which materialised during winter, as well as the magnificent skies we experienced, particularly during storms,” says the artist.

Steffie often works from her own photographs, using them as a base reference for her ethereal, moody paintings. “I generally plan what I’m going to paint before I start and have my materials set up with my photographic and colour references,” says Steffie.  Her often haunting works hold the power to completely consume the viewer in nature’s dramatic effects. For Steffie, the way photographs flatten out the landscape and capture instantaneous effects is what offers her inspiration. However, those powerful effects “seldom translate to the finished work without variation”, she notes. Working with a limited colour palette, Steffie builds layers by frequently mixing colours on the substrate to add depth.

Her powerful works allow the viewer to move through many emotions, as a play on light and colour even in darker paintings tend to do: “There is always a source of light, symbolic of hope and optimism.”

You’ll be able to catch Steffie’s work this September at The Affordable Art Fair, Melbourne. Exhibiting at the fair, Steffie will be showcasing new works that focus on the extreme weather conditions brought about by climate change, a major concern for the artist.

“I find the challenge of capturing this climatic unpredictably in dramatic depictions keeps me aware of our place in the universe and the part we play,” she says.

Through her use of oils, Steffie beautifully captures the drama of this major environmental issue and ultimately draws attention to the issue of climate change through visual dramatisation.

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