The passion behind a professional painter

Granite Bay High School’s art program not only has fantastic teachers, but one is a professional artist as well – Myron Stephens.
Stephens’ art career developed in his college years, and he had very little art experience in high school.
“I was drawing as a kid, so (my parents) bought me colored pencils and paper,” Stephens said. “(My) first painting was in sophomore (year of) college.”
As a child, Stephens had an interest in cartooning and doodling and never painted until he reached college.
He considered becoming a history teacher as both of his parents were teachers, but couldn’t seem himself teaching history for 30 years – so he tried art. Stephens has now been teaching for about 25 years and remembers the days when he got into his first coffee shop in the early 90’s.
By 1993 or 1994, Stephens says he got into his first gallery – a massive achievement for him.
“The first time I got into a museum, that was cool,” Stephens said. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m in a museum.”
Stephens also made it overseas when a gallery in Sweden contacted him.
“It’s always been (where) I’m excited about each step,” Stephens said. “You realize there’s not really a limit and things keep going and haven’t really stopped, so it’s kind of fun.”
Senior Gwendolyn Porter has had Stephens as her art teacher for Art 2, 3, and 4 and will take AP Studio Art with him in the spring.
“(Stephens) has done every media of art imaginable, basically,” Porter said. “He’s really good at ceramics, sculptures, and all sorts of mixed media and everything.”
Porter has had Stephens as a teacher for all four years of high school, and says she has known of Stephens for years through her sister.
“He’s just really kind, honestly,” Porter said. “He loves to have fun and joke around, but he can also be really serious and understanding.”
Porter noted that the skills of observation and study are incredibly important in art.
“He teaches us all the skills he has learned,” Porter said. “He researches all these different artists (and) always thinks of references and painters that we can use for our own paintings.”
Stephens has also taught countless skills to his students, such as specific techniques to use in their work.
“You can use a lot of the same techniques from trees to mountains or something, or cloth to hair,” Porter said. “You just have to… look for what the gallery is looking for… Once you have a big enough name, the galleries are going to start requesting from you. but until you get there, you have to sort of do what they want.”
Many highlight Stephens levels understanding for his students.
“If you’re the type of personality to joke around a lot then he’ll joke around with you,” Porter said. “If you’re a serious person, he can be serious as well. So he really is adaptable to everyone.”
Stephens said that he loves the moment when his Art 2 students realize that their first portrait assignment turns out well.
“That twist, that change – seeing that in Art 2’s is exciting,” Stephens said. “Seeing my Art 5’s get big shows and galleries – that’s exciting.”
Stephens art students have a long history of success in art.
In fact, all but one of his students in AP Studio Art scored a 5 on the AP Exam.
Stephens also hosts after-school art parties, and says he loves seeing passionate students come to paint because they truly love art.
“I just tell them basically one thing – paint a lot. To start, just enter art competitions. If you have one painting… you could enter that one painting into five different competitions and get in,” Stephens said. “I’ve entered in competitions in New York and I got in, so I have paintings go to New York… so you can have your work all over the world just by entering one piece.”
Stephens said he enjoys seeing develop a personal style within their time in the art program.
He says many start to find their style while in Art 3 or 4, and people are generally able to hang up all their work and notice that the same artist has created it.
“It’s exciting,” Stephens said. “Everything’s exciting. I love my job.”