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Watercolor workshop with renowned artist planned at SAAC

by Bradly Gill | December 14, 2021 at 5:00 a.m.

Painting workshop entitled "Watercolor Painting and Design."

A Richard Stephens workshop provides artists with three primary amenities: informative technical information sprinkled with humor and antidotes; entertaining and educational painting demonstrations; and lots of one on one time with Stephens as he helps the artist through their individual painting processes. Stephens has a true passion for watercolor and said enjoys the opportunity to share his knowledge and experience with students of all levels.

Stephens's watercolor workshops are informative, challenging and fun. They are not about competition or turning out a great painting. Rather, his workshops are about being exposed to a process of watercolor painting that has been successful for him. Perhaps some of that process finds a voice with his students and their work.

A native of Hot Springs, Stephens earned a Bachelor's Degree in Art from the University of Central Arkansas in 1969. After serving in the Army as an Illustrator, Stephens began his professional career in 1971 with a design firm in Little Rock. Three years later he opened his own graphic design studio in his hometown providing design and production services for a wide range of commercial accounts.

Having been introduced to the medium in college, Stephens re-discovered transparent watercolor in the early 90's. He quickly garnered a reputation nationwide for his confident, loose, impressionistic paintings. His works have won awards in numerous national competitions, and he has earned signature member status in several major watercolor societies.

For the past 22 years Stephens has shared his passion for the medium by conducting painting workshops around the country. The son of schoolteachers, Stephens's comfortable personality and easy style is well adapted to the classroom.

"It is the quest for the excitement, that rush, understood only by other artists that have been blessed (or cursed) with the experience, that gives me reason to continue in the elusive process of making art," Stephens said. "'Making Art' certainly means producing my own work. But it also means sharing with my students my knowledge, experience and passion for watercolor. I love to teach. I have discovered that through teaching, more than any other endeavor, I continue to learn."

Although recognized for his landscape, architectural and figurative work, Stephens said he feels the real subjects of most of his paintings are his brushwork and the light he tries to capture and amplify through value contrast and an unexpected color pallet. Believing that drawing is the foundation for all good art and design, Stephens often allows his pencil work to show through and become an engaging element in his watercolors.

"My goal is to interpret, not to render. I want to engage the viewer, entertain him and share my vision," Stephens said. "When people view my work that is the last step in the painting process. Of course I want people to like my work, but like it or hate it, I don't want them to be indifferent."

Stephens has received many honors throughout his career, one of which is being named the "Arkansas Individual Artist of the Year" in 2018 by the Arkansas Arts Council. He is a member of the Arkansas League of Artists, the Mississippi Art Colony, and is a signature member of Mid-Southern Watercolorists, Southern Watercolor Society and Missouri Watercolor Society.

Stephens requests that participants bring some photographs with them for inspiration.

"I will bring many, many photos that students are welcome to use for their painting subject if they do not have something of their own. I will also have several original paintings in plastic sleeves that students can use," he said. "I have no problem with students copying another painting for educational purposes. Obviously one would not claim them for their own or enter them in shows."

Stephens will also be showing some of his work in the Merkle Gallery Jan. 7 through Feb. 2, 2022 with an opening reception on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2022 at 5:30 p.m. His show is entitled "Richard Stephens Watercolors."

The workshop is scheduled for Feb. 1-3, 2022. The workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. the first twi days, and from 9 a.m. to noon the third day. Registration for the workshop is currently open at and the cost is $175.

To register for the three-day workshop, contact the SAAC office at 862-5474. For more information about the workshop, including a supplies list, visit SAAC is located at 110 E. 5th St. in El Dorado.

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