“I often wonder what beauty doesn’t exist…because we didn’t create it.”
“I have painted many subjects and places, but some of the most fun I’ve had was painting Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney. I was five when Disneyland opened. At sixty-three it’s fun to think of the past and a Magic Kingdom.”
Stephen Shortridge was born in Iowa in 1951 and moved to Southern California in 1956. As a child, his dad, who was a school administrator, took summer jobs at Disneyland. Throughout those summers, his sister and mom would regularly meet him after work to have dinner and take a couple of “E” ticket rides. Stephen’s favorite was the Autopia.
Stephen excelled in his art throughout his schooling, mainly studying commercial art. He took his first painting class while attending Idaho State University on a Water Polo scholarship (he was an All-American).
“It was probably 1985 when I finally admitted to myself and everyone that I wanted and needed to pursue my art. I had been acting for several years, and although I had been successful, it was never where my heart was. I took my first painting class in college and really never stopped. Painting provides me a constant challenge. It reminds me of golf, in that you can enjoy it or be frustrated by it, but never completely master it. It’s always exciting to see where a painting ends for each has a mind of its own. I tell people, for the most part, I am self-taught…but in truth, I have been taught by everyone and everything.”
During the 70s and 80s, Shortridge built an enviable acting career; appearing in such well-known television series as “Welcome Back Kotter” and “The Love Boat.” He co-starred with Debbie Reynolds on the ABC show Aloha Paradise and with Barbara Stanwyck in another piloted series. He also spent the year of 1987 playing the role of David Reed as part of the original cast of The Bold and the Beautiful. And worked regularly throughout his career as a model and appeared in more than fifty TV commercials. He enjoyed acting, but found painting to be much more satisfying on a creative level and explains: “In acting, a large part of the creative process had already taken place by the time I was involved. In contrast, painting gives me complete control from the start to the finish—which is good and bad. Good, when the work is good. And bad, when there’s no one to blame for the bad but me.”
“Romantic Impressionism is what I do. I think the term best expresses how and why I paint. To me it is bold and full of life and color. Rather than attempting to tell you something completely, it makes an experience that is felt more than told. That is why I set out to interpret life through this style of art; it invites the viewer to create along with me. With impressionism the viewer must participate in the finish of a painting.”Stephen met his wife Cathy on the beach surfing in Newport Beach. They married in 1976 and share an adventurous life; experiencing career changes from modeling and acting to gift stores and art publishing. They’ve made homes in Manhattan, Connecticut, Southern California, and for the last twenty three years, in the mountains of North Idaho. They have four children and four grandkids.
“I hope you enjoy, as much as I did, these interpretations of some of our favorite Disney characters. And, that their personalities and a reminiscence of Walt himself—are not only to make us smile—but will hopefully pull on our heartstrings as well.” “I thank God for everything, the least of which is to be creative. And to paraphrase a famous line from The Chariots of Fire: ‘…when I paint, I feel His pleasure.’ This I certainly do.”
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