Monday, August 17, 2015

STUDIO SPACE: Marlene Steele

Marlene Steele is a Cincinnati based, Kentucky born fine artist and calligrapher. 

She accepts commission portraiture and landscape in several media.

She teaches her studio skills in oil painting, watercolor and pastels in workshops and serial classes. Working with student interest of all ages and experience levels, Steele enjoys helping students develop their potential and specific interests.

Steele is a member of the Portrait Society of America and is currently serving as this  Society's Arts Ambassador to Ohio, a multi-year commitment to the core mission of the national organization. She also enjoys Signature membership at the Cincinnati Art Club.

Her studio is a former cigar box factory in Cincinnati's West End. This tall brick building has equally tall windows and high ceilings that allow natural light to flood her work area.

"The clerestory on the top floor was a naturally attractive feature, --ambiance, ventilation and beautiful moving light."

Location:  West End, Cincinnati

How do I approach my work?
Urbanscapes--oil--The geometric architecture of inner city industrial sites has had a particular appeal to me as a painter. I feel the solitude of the spare work environment and find expression in the timelessness of the passing seasons. These facades have sheltered the work processes through the decades and today bear the scars of the process as well as the graffiti of our times. I sketch in the open or in my car depending on the weather conditions. Using graphite or pastel pencils for color, I capture the compositional elements that inspire me, taking cell pics for additional details.  I always find that the sketches keep me focused on the nuance of original inspiration and encourage my mental notes. Details are sometimes helpful but not of the essence--it is after all, a painting.

Courtroom sketching--practice--show--classes
Since 2004, she has worked in the challenging field of courtroom drawing. Steele's trial sketches, created in pastel, have been licensed to national and local networks.
"I am currently showing a small group selected from several cases at the WashParkArt Gallery on Elm st. in Cincinnati. The work shows some of the formats I have used to capture the developing story of the proceeding."  Steele attributes her success in this field to her figure drawing practice in variously timed gesture sketching. Steele delineates her methods and the drawing principles involved in her classes on drawing the human figure. She keeps several sketch books going and works spontaneously on a daily basis.
Steele also attends drawing sessions to practice the figure and portrait in the community as well as at the Art Club which is a membership benefit. "these sessions help me keep my skills current, very important use of my time.  I also enjoy the friends who share the experience."

Car art--color pencil and oil--show  
"My car art pieces in oil and color pencil are an arresting blend of nostalgia, steel/rust and weeds." 

My workspace.
Throughout my adult life after I left art school, I have always had a studio. It is important to be able to focus completely, temporarily without care or concern or having to cleanup.

My painting table is a scrap construct with rolling capability.  Several cans of brushes stand among the oils and mediums. 

I have a model stand for practice sessions. I also keep a lIbrary:  Artists' reference, technique manual or two, history

I have a Stimulating Quote wall. I have accumulated statements related to art that inspire as well as pragmatic pointers with which to focus my efforts. also the occasional postcard or two: a favorite work or a shot of another artist that I perhaps admire in their studio. 

Calligraphy light table and taboret, storage drawers for finishes and works in progress, calligraphy papers.

 "It's not what you are looking at that matters, it's what you see"  John Muir
"Art feeds the soul, who feeds the artist?"  ?

Note: Marlene has studio space for rent/lease on the premises: DT, interstate convenient, lots of light, industrial accented. Currently available: 1 3000+sq. ft. floor, cozy 600+ sq. ft. on 2nd floor, built in cabinetry. Secure off street parking with lease, free on street parking.


  1. Beautiful work. I especially enjoy the urbanscapes - finding beauty in the rubble.

  2. Thanks for the link. Your studio looks like a fun place to work. Your work tells me something about my community.