Sherman painter Steve Liker incorporates ‘a lot of science’ in his paintings of Conn. towns
Steve Liker studied physics and mathematics in college and planned to be a weatherman.
But there was “a flip side” to his interests, Liker said, and he also took many art classes.
“I would do equations and math problems but then switch over to work on a drawing or painting that was due,” he said.
While Liker didn’t become a weatherman, he quickly got a job in the emerging ink-jet printing business after receiving his diploma.
This turned into a successful 39-year career with the same company, where he secured six highly-technical patents and spoke at conferences around the globe before retiring a year ago.
He also continued painting. “It’s my creative outlet,” said Liker, 63.
The many years he spent in marketing and the business-side of his industry influences how he approaches art.
“I paint for an audience,” he said. “I always think about what an audience likes to see, what grabs them. What would they consider hanging in their living room or dining room because looking at it adds joy to their lives.”
The Sherman artist has exhibited his art at galleries in New York City, England and throughout Connecticut. He’s been selected to be part of group shows at art associations and libraries in the state.
Most recently he’s been active with the RPAC Art Center and Gallery in Ridgefield, where he can sell his work, teach courses and paint in the organization’s studio space. Currently three of Liker’s paintings of Ridgefield will be on exhibit during a show through Sept. 20 at the RPAC Art Center and Gallery located at 410 Main Street. He’s also been involved with art organizations in Newtown and Bethel.
Lately, he has been painting cityscapes of Ridgefield Center, capturing activity on rainy evenings with white holiday lights helping illuminate the scenes.
Liker previously completed numerous cityscapes of New York City — also frequently showing a night scene in the rain — and plans to soon focus on other Fairfield County downtowns, with New Canaan perhaps being next.
He paints primarily in acrylic but also in oil and described his style of art as “loose realism with a touch of impressionism.”
More than a dozen artists utilize RPAC’s studio space, where Liker was spending up to four hours a day before the COVID-19 crisis emerged. The RPAC Main Street gallery showcases members’ work, changing shows every six weeks.
“It’s the most inspirational environment I’ve been in,” he said. “There’s always multiple artists around you and they will walk over and critique your work, give suggestions, so you’re constantly learning and being inspired.”
That kind of interaction temporarily continues online, with RPAC members emailing work to fellow members for advice. “It’s kind of a virtual studio,” Liker said.
He teaches a RPAC class on composition, or how a painting is structured. It covers where to place subjects in a painting, directionality and other factors to “direct the viewer’s eye so they see the whole picture,” he said.
To Liker, it’s particularly important to pick an interesting subject for a painting, whether a person, place or situation. “A boring subject will make an uninteresting painting,” he said.
Growing up in a northern New Jersey suburb, Liker loved playing sports and began drawing famous athletes as a young teen. He was partly inspired by a mom who encouraged her children’s creativity.
He graduated from Upsala College in New Jersey in 1979 and landed the job with Connecticut-based Exxon Office Systems. He eventually became sales and marketing director at the company, now known as Trident-ITW.
Industrial ink-jet printing use, he said, “has some creative and artistic components to it,” including how color and patterns are placed on textiles, ceramic tiles and synthetic flooring.
“A big part of any new home has been done with ink-jet printing,” he said, noting he was involved in such uses during his career.
His worldwide travel on business — he visited 37 countries for his company — enabled him to visit many art museums. “I got to see a lot of the great masters,” he said.
His knowledge in forming and using colors in industrial ink-jet printing has helped him when mixing acrylic paints.
He likes capturing images at night in the rain so light, reflection and shadow — which he considers “integral parts of the scene” —can be highlighted in everything from puddles to passing vehicles.
Doing that properly incorporates some of his physics background. “A lot of science goes into my art,” Liker said.
His cityscapes originated from frequent trips he’d take to New York City, sometimes in foul weather, and often to visit museums. “I was impressed by the energy of the city — the lights, reflections, emotions,” he said. “You can people-watch for hours. I wanted to catch that with my art.”
People are a focus of many of his paintings. He did a series of beautiful women for each of the seasons and a montage of jazz musicians displayed at the Ridgefield Playhouse during a previous RPAC exhibit.
Liker is married with two children. In his spare time, he likes to kayak, play tennis and ski. “I’ll do anything outside,” he said.
For more information about his art, visit SteveLiker.org.