Stephen Fuller

CPhys CEng MInstP

Unison Colour Associate Artist

Unison Colour welcomes Stephen Fuller as an Associate Artist

I came to art later than most, inspired by a pastel demonstration in an art gallery where I saw a professional artist perform magic with just a few sticks of pigment.

I was bought a small set of pastels by my wife, I read books, practiced and my journey into art started there. I have probably made every mistake possible and learnt each lesson the hard way but a self-taught, bottom up approach has allowed me to explore what can and can’t be done with these little pieces of coloured magic and I am now a passionate advocate of this wonderful medium. Sometimes a visitor to my studio is surprised that one of my paintings is soft pastel and I am happy to take this as a compliment.

I have spent my life surrounded by the sea and those that spend their lives on the water. I served in the Royal Navy for over 30 years and I am also a professional sea kayak guide. These aspects of my life expose me to the sea in all of her fickle moods. I have kayaked on a misty ocean so calm and windless that it was difficult to know which way was up. I have also been out on the ocean with waves so large that I wasn’t sure that an aircraft carrier was going to recover from a heel as it turned across the sea. It is certainly true that the sea often gives us the test before giving us the lesson. The enigmatic ocean is without doubt the biggest influence on my art.

I am lucky to live in West Cornwall and I am exposed to all the drama of that wild landscape and the ever-present influence of the Atlantic Ocean. The daily dance of light and dark on the moors and the majestic transience of the interplay between the sea and sky are two muses that few with a creative streak could resist.

I am also a Chartered Physicist and a member of the Institute of Physics; my science background gives me some understanding of how light and matter interact at a fundamental level as well as the behavior of fluids. I maintain a keen interest in meteorology and astrophysics.  I love the way that patterns repeat on scales from the microscopic to the cosmic and it is in these patterns that the truths about existence try to hide. I seek to bring these truths to my art.

Fundamentally, though, I am a romantic. I believe in love, the light and dark within us, the happy ending and how our feelings frame our experiences of the universe.

Romance, science and the sea are the three cornerstones of my art. I love to place a human narrative within the grandeur of nature at its wildest. I work hard to convey a sense of mood and emotion.

I am also a Chartered Physicist and a member of the Institute of Physics; my science background gives me some understanding of how light and matter interact at a fundamental level as well as the behavior of fluids. I maintain a keen interest in meteorology and astrophysics.  I love the way that patterns repeat on scales from the microscopic to the cosmic and it is in these patterns that the truths about existence try to hide. I seek to bring these truths to my art.

Fundamentally, though, I am a romantic. I believe in love, the light and dark within us, the happy ending and how our feelings frame our experiences of the universe.

Romance, science and the sea are the three cornerstones of my art. I love to place a human narrative within the grandeur of nature at its wildest. I work hard to convey a sense of mood and emotion.

I only work in soft pastel and love the sensuous nature of applying pigment directly to a surface and just adore how you are literally in touch with your art. I sometimes see visitors to my studio looking at me strangely and then I realise I’ve got a green ear or blue chin from the pastel dust transferred from my fingers. The coloured papers and surfaces available to pastellists also really help develop the emotion and mood that I strive to convey.

When considering a piece I sometimes produce tonal sketches and may include an underpainting to help work up those all-important tonal differences. However, more often than not the piece flows straight through to my fingers onto the paper without any intervening steps.  I work loosely to begin with, blending and developing the areas of colour, dark to light and then will include more detail in the key areas. Finally, the bright gems and fine detail will be added sparingly, which can really bring the picture to life.

My pictures are normally completed in just a few sittings and I will occasionally work late into the night to finish a piece that has gripped me.  I rarely use photographs as references unless working on a specific commission, as my best work seems to be done en plein air or direct from my imagination. Some people produce wonderful work based on the captured image but for me the finished piece somehow always feels slightly subordinate to the photograph.

As well as my first small set of my wife also bought me the full set of Unison pastels and these have really helped to develop my art.  They are beautifully soft with consistent, high quality colour. The palette available is perfectly adapted for the seascapes and landscapes that are my passion.  I am honoured to be an Associate Artist for Unison colour.

My studio and gallery is at Trevaunance Cove, near St Agnes, in Cornwall and I can walk to the surf stroked beach or the towering cliffs that frame it in less than a minute.  St Agnes is in the centre of the old tin mining area and the iconic engine houses litter the local landscape. Cornwall is truly a magical place and deserves its reputation as a mecca for artists. I consider myself a very lucky artist.

Blog posts relating to Stephen Fuller

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Associate Artist Intake for 2022

It seems a while ago since we asked for applications from artists to become an Associate Artists & wow the applications came in thick & fast. So much so it took our Unison Helen a good while to get through them all.

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