Born in Brooklyn, NY in 1961, Steven grew up in a household where art was always present. His father, Albert Petruccio, worked as an art director and did retouching work at home quite often. While his mother, Marie, instilled in him an emotional connection to people, places and things in his life. “ I remember standing beside my dad as he sat at his desk, compressor rumbling away on the floor and then smelling the paint as it sprayed out of the airbrush ,creating lines and colors that made pictures look better. I hated having to go to sleep and missing any part of the process.”
Steven spent his own spare time learning to draw, asking his father for tips and later receiving books on drawing and art for his birthdays and holidays. No art classes were offered in elementary or high school so he studied anatomy by George Bridgeman and Burne Hogarth and discovered the art of comic books during the Silver Age. Able to draw heroic figures , Steven put together a portfolio which his father arranged for him to show to Mr. Hogarth. A few years later and Burne Hogarth would write a letter of recommendation for Steven to attend the School of Visual Arts in NYC.
“ Being an artist was not an option but something more commercial was allowed so I learned about illustration and discovered that I had a natural ability for visual storytelling. Having studied comic books for years, I was quite familiar with sequence and continuity so book illustration was a clear path for me. I began getting commercial assignments while still in school and soon after graduating, with my work selected as some of the best of my graduating class, embarked on a successful illustration career.”
Having no knowledge of how the world of fine art and galleries worked, Steven used illustration as a means of income which enabled him to have time to grow as a painter. With the support of his wife, KathyAnn, a former graphic designer for CBS Television and Time-Warner/DC Comics, he created illustrations for picture books, winning many awards. Steven became involved in the art world of the Hudson Valley becoming president of the local art association, teaching in the studio art department at Marist College, exhibiting his paintings in regional shows, participating in plein air painting events and entering juried competitions. Being accepted into exhibits of the American Artists Professional League and the North East Watercolor Society validated the work he was doing and gave him the confidence to paint more.
“ The hazard faced by working in the Hudson Valley ,was that I would be drawn into becoming a traditional, Hudson River School painter when that was not my intention. There is so much visual stimuli around that it’s impossible not to notice it and you really have to force yourself to avoid the picturesque. I remember sending examples of my work to Jamie Wyeth and then receiving a letter back in which he stated how much he liked the work I was doing. He also noted a similarity in sentiment of being in the worlds of illustration and fine art, as that of his grandfather N.C. Wyeth. Mr. Wyeth and I continue to correspond and I find inspiration in his words.”
Steven’s work echoes Hudson Valley and Long Island life, places with which he has a connection. He continues to paint and explore new ideas, providing his viewers with the unique narrative present in his work.
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