I was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I lived and worked until I moved to Portland, Maine in 1982. After working a few years as a full-time printer, freelance editorial cartoonist and commercial illustrator, I entered the advertising field. I eventually founded and ran a successful advertising firm, Pennisi & Company, for 20 years. Wanting to devote my best energies to fine arts, I sold my business and began working at developing my art while still working part time in the advertising to pay the bills.
Through the years I have worked in both oil and acrylic, realistic and abstract, before discovering my current technique, which grew out of my desire to "own something" as an artist. In my earlier work what frustrated me was that I knew after a while where the painting would end up and the rest of the process was just a matter of moving to the inevitable conclusion. I wanted to find a way to stay open and be continually surprised and engaged. I uncovered this new technique when one day the corner of dry acrylic paint on my waxed paper disposable palette peeled up. When I peeled it off I was amazed at what I found on the hidden side of the paint. It had a life and spontaneity that I had never seen before…something that felt human but freed of any doubt or hesitation. So after many experiments I found that I could paint on this clear cellophane they use for gift wrapping, and when I glued it to the canvas the film would peel off, leaving just the paint..essentially creating printing plates. Having been a commercial printer for many years made this approach second nature. Plus if I liked what I was also doing on the visible surface, I could lay a piece of clear film on the wet paint and capture that image too. This ability to use "both sides of the paint" gave me a freedom and expanded palette that continues to excite me with possibilities everyday. Like a musician bends a note, this enables me to bend the paint. The paint vacillates between pure physical paint & Pollock like splashes and spatters to pure photographic Ansel Adams-like halftone effects that can only happen chemically, to create these high definition paintings. My only tool is a squeegee. All the effects are created by how I pour and pull the paint. My family and I moved from Maine to Fort Myers in April of 2013. I have a wife and 5 year old daughter as well as a 30 year old daughter and 1 year old grandson who live in Orlando…go figure! I have exhibited in numerous solo and group shows throughout Maine and Florida.
Steve Pennisi Art black & white artwork