Walking his Talk
As a plein air painter, Stephen LaPierre follows the sun by day, mixing and applying his colors to create astonishing dayscapes of shadows and light. At night he finds available artificial light to birth his magical nightscapes, with each piece worked completely on site; never from a photograph. Living his mantra, Paint Paint Paint, LaPierre began his career painting the mills, the streets and the shadows of his hometown of Haverhill, Massachusetts, on the banks of the Merrimack River. A self–taught painter from the school of hard knocks, he was first encouraged to paint by Susan Paradis at Haverhill High School in the late 1970’s, when he quickly found himself inspired by the likes of Pablo Piccasso, Vincent Van Gogh, and Salvador Dali. A decade later, LaPierre left his energy conservation career, successfully bartered a mural of downtown Haverhill for a semester's tuition at Northern Essex Community College, and began life as a full-time working artist. That early Haverhill commission now hangs in the lobby of Northern Essex's Sperk Building. LaPierre then moved on to study briefly at Massachusetts College of Art with Boston artist, Ed Stitt.
In the early 1990’s, through the Haverhill Artists Association, LaPierre became friends with Bradford artist, Mark Hayden, and Cape Ann painter, Caleb Stone. He soon found himself regularly painting alongside Caleb, who introduced him to his father, the late master oil painter and Gloucester native, Don Stone, along with Donald Mosher, Jonathan Hotz; Paul Strisik; Charles Movalli; TM Nicholas and Kenny Knowles.
In 1992 LaPierre opened his Haverhill studio at Stevens Mills, moving it in 1996 to a huge unheated third floor Washington Street industrial space overlooking the Merrimack River. He then proceeded to trade plein air and studio paintings for his studio/apartment over the next twelve years.
In early 1998, on a painting trip to New York City, LaPierre met art patron Scott Elliot, who soon sponsored the artist’s plein air work in Chicago, Benton Harbor, Michigan, the south Florida everglades, and Vermont. During this period, LaPierre also began painting the razing of the Boston Garden and his Boston Big Dig Collection.
In 2000, LaPierre continued his plein air work in Italy, adding pieces from Rome, Florence and Venice. On his return to the States, he soon became known as “the artist of darkness” in Newburyport, MA, capturing the never-ending red brick architecture of the seaport city by night, as well as by day. During this time, LaPierre was also privileged to participate in Don Stone's final plein air workshops on Monhegan Island, ME.
In 2007, LaPierre found himself stranded at Marina Hemingway in Havana, Cuba, on his brother's sailboat. As the two men waited for replacement parts to arrive, LaPierre's Havana Collection was created.
After meeting a bunch of Norwegian Vikings, also docked at Hemingway, and playing music with them, LaPierre ended up in Norway, painting the streets of Oslo, while also composing, producing and playing music with the Vikings, until moving to Key West in the spring of 2010.
In his extensive Key West Collection (2010–2014), LaPierre captured the brilliant sub–tropical sunlight and the southernmost city's sparkling night–lights, as he documented the continuing pirate and conch magic of North America's favorite playground at the beginning of the 21st century.
As a member of the Rocky Neck Art Colony this summer and fall (2016), LaPierre is continuing his plein air work, while also creating new studio pieces in his allegorical, Clowns with Cell Phones Series, in his Madfish Alley studio/gallery/home, at the end of the Neck. An interesting addendum: LaPierre's Studio, at 77 Rocky Neck Avenue, is the same space where the British sculptor, Leonard Craske, created Gloucester's Man at the Wheel statue in 1924. Craske, a noted North Shore sculptor, won this international competition to create a memorial honoring the thousands of Gloucester fishermen lost at sea over the centuries, on the occasion of America’s oldest seaport's 300th birthday in 1925.
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