Posted by: Valeria Marcus
Hidden in the back of Stockton University’s Arts Garage located on 2200 Fairmount Avenue in Atlantic City, New Jersey, sits a talented fiery redhead artist. Her cheerful and inspiring studio surpasses other studios and small galleries to reach Stephanie Segal Miller’s art studio, a former attorney.
Upon entering Stephanie’s studio, that resembles a comfy NYC loft, complete with a pillow top sofa, enormous table, mini fridge, desk and chair in the right corner. She surrounds herself with exotic colorful animal paintings.
“Hi, Val, it’s nice to see you again,” as Stephanie warmly greets me on a crisp November afternoon. She’s friendly as her vivid animal paintings, whose eyes seem to follow me as I find a seat. Stephanie was born to Jewish parents in Trenton, New Jersey, with a needle point and colorist artist mom, Heshie and attorney Dad. She decided to switch careers after recovering from thyroid cancer several years ago.
VM: What inspired you to become an artist?
SM: I always loved art and have been exploring different medias since a child. There are certain things, that inspire me and I’m drawn into. Animals have been my comfort zone with yearly trips to the Philadelphia Zoo as a child. Therefore, I couldn’t go back to still life’s, and I began my journey focusing on wild animals.
VM: Does traveling inspire your art?
SM: On my honeymoon in 2004, Joel and I traveled to South Africa, and visited Siingita Game Lodge, and I was allowed to use watercolors and painted my first zebra and giraffe. With her husband’s encouragement 5 years ago she decided to become a full-time artist.
VM: How has your mom inspired you?
SM: She always gave my brother and I creative projects in and outside of the home since age 5. Therefore, the creative process was inbreeded in me and is essential to the fabric of my being.
VM: Stephanie, can you share some tips from your artist/teacher mom?
SM: She taught me to be patient when explaining a concept to a student; and to experiment with different medias and ideas.
VM: What is your biggest struggle as an artist?
SM: Painting without a purpose; and to dig into my creativity and see what happens naturally without a specific project.
VM: Can you share your palette secrets?
SM: I use the basic colors along with 75 other colors to mix hundreds of combinations.
VM: What are your favorite brands?
SM: I love Windsor & Newton and Daniel Smith along with Arches block paper, because I can’t stand taping the paper to a board.
VM: What is the key element for completing a painting?
SM: For me, being able to walk away, otherwise, I will pick at it and destroy it.
VM: What’s the upside being an artist?
SM: My vision and mind are free of the world’s worries.
VM: What’s the downside?
SM: There’s not enough time in the day to complete all of my projects.
VM: How long have you been teaching?
SM: I actually started teaching needle point at age 5, to 5th and 8th graders; and by the time I was in Junior High, I was teaching to adults. My mom paid me $35 weekly to assist with her classes.
VM: Where are you presently teaching watercolor?
SM: Weekly at Stockton University’s Arts Garage and the Brigantine Community Center.
VM: What is your relationship between your art and subject?
SM: I love wild animals because they are rich in color and character, along with being unique. Upon request, I am currently painting pet portraits!
VM: What are the qualities of an artist?
SM: Willingness to explore, practice and try new techniques along with passion.
VM: Can you please discuss your books?
SM: One is an alphabet book for ages 4-8, and the other is non-fiction about a young girl. I illustrated and wrote the storyline for both books, and hope to publish them soon.
VM: What periodicals have you been featured?
SM: The cover of The Connection Bernard’s Ridge Edition in 2012 and
Artsy Voyager magazine in 2016.
VM: Thank you Stephanie for allowing me access to your studio and to photograph several of your exotic animal watercolors.
SM: No, thank you Val for thinking about writing an article about my art at the Jersey Shore.
As our interview ends; Stephanie continues to doodle with her watercolors to come up with new color combinations for her next watercolor project. In the meantime, she’s very excited by the idea of her books possibly published in 2017. But for now, Stephanie will continue to teach others the art of becoming a better watercolorist, and sit unwearyingly for more pet portrait requests. Stephanie’s website is stephaniesegal.com
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