Paintings with unique and unorthodox forms with vibrant colors can be viewed when looking at Steven Dunn’s work in a new gallery at the Chico Art Center titled “Discovery Series” until March 4.
“I probably always have been an artist,” he said. “I grew up in Manhattan Beach. When I was in the seventh grade, there was a teacher that recognized I was a little bit different. She got me into things that would get me out of the classroom.”
This same teacher got him into art and sparked his interest for it, Dunn said.
After high school Dunn planned on going to the design center and getting a master’s degree in fine arts, he said. But with lack of credits from high school to get there, he went to the local junior college.
“There was an instructor there that turned me off real quickly to design,” Dunn said.”I don’t do well with structured teaching. And he was determined to do it that way, so I quit.”
From there Dunn joined the navy and served for six years. After the military he got into construction and turned it into his career.
From working various levels of construction in his past, such as building dry wall, he enjoys having created something at the end of the day, he said.
Dunn retired in 2004 and has been painting ever since.
“When I retired I began being creative right away, with ‘gourd art’ at first, but I thought it was too much like a hobby and not ‘real art’,” he said. “I was wrong, but still went to watercolors and about six years ago I was invited to join the Tuesday Painters.”
The Tuesday Painters is a group of eight people who get together every Tuesday at the Chico Art Center about 8 a.m. to work on and discuss each others’ art, Dunn said.
They talked him into doing the exhibit.
“I originally didn’t know anything about the ‘Discovery Series’ until almost the last day to enter it,” he said. “At the last minute I sent in some pictures of my artwork.”
Most of Dunn’s paintings in the show are done with acrylic paint but a select few are done with watercolors on yupo paper.
“People who are water colorist and oil painters hate the fact it dries so fast,” he said. “And I like that fact. If there is something I didn’t like, give me 15 minutes and I’ll be painting right back over which I can’t do with oil.”
For Dunn, art is a natural thing.
“Your personality type enters into it I think,” Dunn said. “I am an introvert. This is very difficult for me. You know as an introvert you sometimes have to spend some time extroverting.”
Chico has a great art scene but the Chico Art Center should be more well-known, he said.
“I think the Chico Art Center is very under-appreciated here,” Dunn said. “There are so many people that don’t know where it is… It doesn’t have the attention it needs.”
He has advice for any up-and-coming artists or beginning painters out there wanting to produce their craft.
“Don’t listen to the critics,” he said. “That would be the main thing. There is a difference between critics and let’s say helpful criticism. You have to learn the difference, because friends will help you with criticism. That’s what this group does. Critics will just tear you down.”
Tom Sundgren can be reached at [email protected] or @tomsundgren on Twitter.