Oilful Expressions

The art of  Lois Stephens


September 7 – Nov 4


September 7 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Food catered by Zeppoli’s Restaurant and wine will be for sale at $5 a glass.

Garden Path – © Lois Stephens

So many talented and well-trained artists say they wish they could loosen up and let go of the comfort of realism.  Lois Stephens is one of the few who accomplished that goal.

Stephens prefers to work in oil with a palette knife, a device that replaces the brush and lends itself to free rein.  She says the more you do it, the more confident you become.  Also, don’t be afraid to change something that doesn’t work.  “It’s just paint.”  Oil paint is especially easy to remove or paint over.  “Simplify.”  Painting in an impressionist style comes from simplifying what you have been doing.

Many of the paintings in the show are landscapes depicting local scenes that often include water.  “Flow” shows a stream in springtime, “Hibernal” a cold winter scene, and “Garden Path” a walk bordered with flowers.  Compared to her earlier works, these paintings are more impressionistic in style.

Lois Stephens didn’t start painting seriously until she was in her thirties.  A bad experience in grade school kept her from pursuing her talent until she happened upon a teacher, Barbara Capps ,who had just returned to her hometown of Christiansburg.  Capps looked at her sketchbook, and soon Lois was taking night classes, drawing in charcoal, then painting in acrylics, and finally moving to oil paint.  Stephens later graduated from Mary Baldwin College (now Mary Baldwin University) with concentrations in art and communication.

Flow – © Lois Stephens

After 25 years as a graphic designer, Stephens served as the marketing communications manager for Continuing and Professional Education at Virginia Tech.  She entered the field of graphic design just as it was exploding with new technology, and many people were intimidated by the demands of the new era.  Not Lois.  When all available experts were overbooked, she developed a needed brochure to promote an event in the department.  She took on an architecture student as a work study and learned the latest graphic design programs from her.

If you are thinking Stephens might make a good teacher, you are right.  She volunteers at Virginia Tech and teaches art classes for the Lifelong Learning Institute.  The next class will be in the spring of 2024.

As a member of the Blacksburg Regional Art Association, Stephens designed and edited their newsletter for many years.  She is still an active member of that organization.

Hibernal – © Lois Stephens

Stephen’s studio is in Newport at the former school building with enormous windows that flood the room with light.  Her paintings have won several awards, including the New River Art Biennial and the Bath County Art Show.

One of her more recent paintings crossed the line from impressionist to abstract.  Stephens was trying to break up a line, and things just happened.  She calls it “Off the Rails.”  Is this the beginning of a new era for her?

Come and see for yourself!

– by Judy Niehaus