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I am a painter. www.StephenCefalo.com, http://twitter.com/#!/CefaloStudio

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Teachers Of Mine: Steven Assael

I mean seriously. Steven Assael renders (no pun intended) me speechless. His talent is epic. He has a passion and a work ethic unlike anything I've ever seen. He is a gentle soul and a good friend.

I studied with Steve at SVA my senior year, and continued to study with him privately during my years in New York. Steven is a student of Max Ginsburg and Harvey Dinnerstein, other painters I greatly admire.

Seeing this painting at his 1998 show at Forum Gallery changed my life. This is one of the best figure paintings I've ever seen.

Amy's favorite, "Amber Ray".

Watching Assael paint is similar to watching a professional wrestling match between a paint brush and globs of gloppy wet paint. Although in reproductions one is mostly aware of the level of realism, when viewed in person there is quite a lot of abstraction in the paint. Threads of pure and half-mixed color can be seen in the strokes. Steve loves to pile on the flake white and thickly layered wet glazes with a honey-thick medium that creates a jewel-like effect on the surface. His unorthodox technique normally involves a superloaded fan brush or round sable shifting about masses of paint the way a sculptor models form in clay.

Steven Assael is well-known for making ballpoint pen a serious drawing medium. He handles it quite like silverpoint, and often adds washed in layers of color and tone.


  1. I remember when I saw my first painting by Steven Assael. IT was my first year at LCAD and there was a group show that included his work. The work is really sensual. Like Van Gogh, there's an urge to touch the painting, maybe even lick it.

    Thanks for the post, Stephen.

  2. Hey, if you don't mind me asking, how did you get to study with Assael privately? Does he do that often?

  3. I know what you mean, Kyle. They're like candy.

    Steve, the private thing came about after we became friends, so it's hard to say. I know he does workshops and classes in his studio currently though.

  4. Those close ups of his work really show the influence he has had on you. I see similar things in your work.