Grandson to South Dakota “sodbusters”, and student of Enrest Oberholtzer, the co-founder of The Wilderness Society, Stephen Henning didn’t seem to have a choice but to love the Midwestern American landscape. Now living in Minnesota, the state in which he grew up, Stephen Henning is an American impressionist, but he prefers the terms “tight impressionist” or “loose expressionist”. No matter what you call his style; Stephen Henning is an artist of large-scale paintings that are tributes to the land he holds so dear.
Stephen Henning “Meadowland”
Stephen Henning begins his acrylic paintings in the “plein aire” style of painting outdoors. This style was made popular by the notable French impressionists such as Pissarro, Renoir and Monet, who Stephen Henning channels. Capturing the wilderness, Stephen Henning then takes his work inside to his studio for finishing. With a career spanning over thirty years, a refined maturity is evident in the landscapes by Stephen Henning. Of his work, Stephen Henning says, “My primary artistic goal is to provide a pleasing, peaceful image that can be brought indoors, a sort of escape portal where one’s mind is free to stretch and dance.” Stephen Henning continues, “I prefer to create large paintings that make a big impact and are easy to ’step into’.” An escape is exactly what Stephen Henning provides the viewer in his canvases.
“I strive to capture impressions of the fleeting beauty of such places that are uncluttered by man,” says Stephen Henning when talking about the lush landscapes he produces. In Meadowland, one of Stephen Henning’s pastoral scenes, a large tree leans over a narrow river. The sky and the golden fields give a striking and contrasting background to the landscape Stephen Henning has created. Somehow, though, among the splendor of the countryside, Meadowland is a piece that is truly about Stephen Henning’s brushstrokes. Weather he is using an almost pointillist set of dots to make up the leaves on the tree on the sloping hillside, or longer slashes to represent the tall grasses lining the brook, Stephen Henning is in complete control of the brush, yet the brushstrokes appear to barely have graced the canvas. It’s this soft touch Stephen Henning uses that reminds us of his true love for land that remains untouched by humankind.