By Lucia Viti
South Park artist draws on ‘dreams and life experiences’
Stephanie Clair is an artist on a mission to “touch your soul with my brush.” Collections of delightfully bright and boldly picturesque acrylics, taken from “dreams and life experiences,” reflect her desire to incite contagiously happy energy.
Perusing through her collector series — Romance, Individuals, Places, Mosaics and Concrete — is like strolling through a patchwork of fanciful shapes and vibrant colors that promise to bring “a soulful human quality to fruition.”
“I believe in surrounding yourself with snapshots of loving memories that are sometimes erased by the speed of time,” the South Park resident said. “I challenge viewers to get lost in a three-dimensional world of people, passion and beauty. My paintings tell stories through a matrimony of emotion, cubes and color, sharing memories that we all relate to, but we so often easily forget.”
The self-described modern-day romantic and day dreamer “engulfed in my own world,” encourages everyone to view our global landscape through a “new set of lenses.” For her, life’s dreamy moments, best captured on canvas, serve as an impetus to escape the daily stress of “running a million miles an hour.” Prose accompanies every piece as gentle reminders to relish sweet moments in perfect harmony.
“Art inspires,” she continued. “Art is stored honey for the human soul. I wish everyone could take a step back and enjoy a moment of romance. For me, love is the most powerful feeling in the world and yet we’re often too busy to even share a glass of wine as a romantic moment. Those are the moments my paintings capture.”
Salsa and fine art
Clair recently added prize winnings to the concept of sharing a cocktail, only this time with a Mexican flair. Courtesy of La Victoria, America’s first jarred Mexican salsa sold publicly, she garnered second-place in a contest that celebrated their 100-year anniversary.
Born and bred in Los Angeles, the company contested San Diego artists to create original artwork showcasing a “Modern West Coast Lifestyle” theme while giving the La Victoria brand a nod. Clair was chosen among a smorgasbord of local talent to reign in the top five and ultimately win $1,500 for second-place. Her painting “Beautiful Day” portrayed a couple sharing La Victoria Salsa, chips and margaritas on a grassy knoll with the San Diego Bay as the backdrop.
“Stephanie’s artwork is not only beautiful, it embodies the La Victoria brand,” said Sebastian Friedman, La Victoria’s brand manager. “How perfect – a couple sipping margaritas and eating chips dipped in La Victoria Salsa – to highlight the most unique aspects of West Coast living. Life on the West Coast is a culture that blends art, food, music that can’t be found elsewhere. La Victoria appreciates what artists add to that culture and we’re always looking for opportunities to give back. The Modern West Coast Lifestyle contest was a perfect example of how we do so.”
According to Friedman, La Victoria has witnessed much over the past century in the region’s everchanging landscape of art and life. “West Coast living is truly unique,” he continued. La Victoria wanted to highlight the differences between the south and its northern counterparts. Our call for action asked artists to convey and define, ‘What does modern West Coast living mean to you in an art form?’ For us, modern West Coast living includes unique artists and we’re excited to share their talent.”
“I was so thrilled to be a finalist,” Clair said. “The idea – and the painting – were perfect matches. My paintings include a lot of ethnically universal people. That is, my portraits make everyone feel inclusive while showcasing love, passion and romance. The La Victoria piece shows a couple caught in a sweet moment, sipping on margaritas and eating yummy chips with La Victoria Salsa, toasting their glasses as the sun sets on the San Diego Bay. Everyone agrees, it truly is a beautiful day.”
Finding her calling
Born and raised in upstate New York, Clair “drew her way through cold winter days.”
“Ever since I can remember, I’ve doodled and doodled and doodled,” she said. “I’d roam the backyard forests and come home to draw them.”
Later influenced by the works of Picasso, Matisse, Chagall, Modigliani and Kandinsky, she received her bachelor of fine arts from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Life as an artist became a realistic venture after selling her art during her senior year art show.
“After selling every single piece, I was convinced that no matter how hard it would be, no matter what I’d have to do to get there, I’d figure out a way to paint for a living,” she said. “It’s hard to survive as a painter, let alone to live successfully as an artist. It takes a long time to build a support network and discover your niche, your style.”
San Francisco followed suit where she built a portfolio and generated a collector base while working in the corporate world in design and marketing. With “just enough savings,” Clair moved to San Diego and plunged into full-time artistry. Savings dwindled “pretty quickly” so she loaded every art piece into her car and drove to La Jolla determined to leave “empty-handed” even if it meant walking into every single art gallery. Not only was she accepted in the area’s oldest gallery, Eagle Fine Art, she was asked to become the gallery’s sales director. Clair accepted and quickly “learned the ropes, turned the gallery around and established my name to eventually branch out on my own.”
Today, Clair devotes herself to her family — husband Eric, daughter Ayla and son Milo — as well as her art. Featured in San Diego, Northern California, Hawaii and East Coast galleries and art shows, her life remains a beacon of inspiring others to enjoy life and art.
“I love working art shows and meeting my collectors,” she concluded. “Meeting the people who purchase my babies completes the circle. Art is personal. Art inspires. Art is reflection of your soul, of you.”
—Contact Lucia Viti at email@example.com.