Shortridge labels himself a romantic impressionist, and his paintings possess an immediate, expressive quality that invites the viewer to make an emotional connection with them. Whether an intimate interior, vibrant cityscape or romantic getaway, his goal is to touch your soul.
He credits as influences Claude Monet (for full color and bold brushwork), Joaquin Sorolla (for passionate expression) and John Singer Sargent (for simple mastery). But he considers his talent a gift from God and is fond of paraphrasing the famous line from Chariots of Fire, “… when I paint, I feel His pleasure … this I certainly do.”
Stephen went to college on a water polo scholarship and became an All-American. He majored in commercial art, but found his way into modeling, and modeling became a bridge into a successful acting career that spanned 20 years. During that time, he appeared in more than 50 commercials and became the pitchman for brands that included Coca Cola, Mennen, Speed Stick, Certs and Head & Shoulders. His television credits include sweathog Beau de Labarre on the popular sitcom Welcome Back Kotter, a role opposite Debbie Reynolds on ABC’s Aloha Paradise, a stint on The Love Boat, and the role of David Reed as part of the original cast of CBS’ daytime soap, The Bold and the Beautiful.
But Shortridge’s heart never belonged to acting. Professionally speaking, painting was his first and only true love. But it took a life-changing epiphany to vanquish the lure of fame and success. It happened one day at an audition, where he noticed a very accomplished older actor rehearsing his lines. He was appalled by the complete lack of respect accorded to the man and realized with a shock that some day, that would be him too. By the time he got home, he’d decided to throw over acting for a career in art. His wife Cathy was all in.
Twenty-five years later, he still thrills to the challenge of a blank canvas. “Painting is the most frustrating and challenging thing I’ve ever attempted,” he confesses on his website. He analogizes painting to golf. “You can enjoy it or be frustrated by it, but you’ll never completely master it.”
Still, the freedom associated with the creative process excites Shortridge. “It’s precious and the most fulfilling part of being an artist” in contradistinction to acting, where writers, producers and directors make most of the creative decisions about the characters actors play.
Today, Stephen and his wife Cathy own and operate an upscale gallery in their hometown of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and daughter Hayley is not only involved in the business, she is following in dad's painterly footsteps. Aside from Cathy and their three children, Stephen considers the publication of his book, Created Creator, one of his proudest moments.
DeBruyne Fine Art is located on fabled Gallery Row in the Third Street shopping district in Olde Naples. For more information about the gallery or the exhibit, please visit www.debruynefineart.com or telephone 239-262-4551.