Stephanie Hilen, the youngest of 5, grew up in a home with white walls, a large backyard, and the occasional hot-air balloon sighting in Jessamine County, Kentucky. She is the granddaughter of an Austrian immigrant artist, Erika Kaiser, whom she inherited the "art genes" from. She began drawing before she could write and won various school and local art contests.
In 2010, Stephanie began studying Studio Art at Centre College under Professor Sheldon Tapley. Here she discovered and fell in love with oil paints, in tangent with an appreciation for the accuracy of realism. Trips to the Met, MoMA, Louvre, Kunsthistorisches Museum, and a studio session with David Kassan further fueled her inspiration to create. However, after years of painting the figure, Stephanie decided to paint landscapes for her senior exhibition in 2014. The success of this exhibition motivated her to continue painting after graduation.
Stephanie resides in Lexington, Kentucky with her husband, Sean, painting in her home studio. She enjoys painting colorful Kentucky landscapes, as well as still-life oil and watercolor studies. Both Stephanie and Sean maintain the art business together, attending local events and pursuing every opportunity to share Stephanie's creations with others.
Complimentary Colors are my secret weapon. As a trained oil painter but self-taught watercolorist, I maintain consistency through successful color choice. If I can do that, all else falls into place.
My paintings are inspired by realism but take on a colorful quality with a clean finish. This is created by sketching loose values and then layering color details, working from both photos and from life/plein air.
My process begins with a visualization of how to bring out the best qualities of the subject through color, light and detail. A color wash is chosen carefully to set the undertone. A sketch is painted with contrasting colors that dictate lights verses darks. Once the sketch is complete, the first layer of the painting begins, utilizing large brush strokes and bold colors. As the painting progresses, colors are focused and details are refined throughout multiple layers.
The most important step of the process is to take the painting off of the easel and hang it on the wall. The fresh perspective provides an ideal opportunity to critique the painting. The context often clarifies inconsistencies that need to be adjusted before the painting is complete.