About Steve Hartman
"We don’t truly know where creativity starts or ends, so continue to discover its source and push its limits." - Steve Hartman
We don’t truly know where creativity starts or ends, so continue to discover its source and push its limits.
- Steve Hartman
It’s the basics in life that make our days so enjoyable. A cold soda straight out of the ice chest on a hot day. A giant bag of popcorn at the drive-in. The perfect glass of white wine – or let’s face it, the whole bottle.
We see them as what they are – a drink, a snack, something to take the edge off a hard day. But to artist Steve Hartman, they’re inspiration. And with oil paint and canvas, he captures the beauty in their simplicity, putting a whimsical spin to the Realism art movement. By painting scenes close to his heart, whether it’s his favorite local bar or a visit to the mighty Mississippi, Hartman offers viewers a slice of his Americana, often with a slab of bacon or a frozen custard on the side.
Born and raised in Edwardsville, Ill., Hartman is a Midwest boy at heart. He uses his experiences growing up in a small town, and today raising his sons in that same town, as muse for his pieces. They’re scenes similar to what he painted under the tutelage of Dennis DeToye, his mentor at Edwardsville High School, and then again at Eastern Illinois University where he received his BA in Art with an emphasis in Graphic Design.
By 1992, Hartman put his brush to the side for his computer. As a graphic designer and currently creative director at Werremeyer Creative in St. Louis, Hartman has helped market nonprofit and corporate clients on a global scale. Throughout his career, Hartman received numerous design awards and has been featured in design publications for his work. In addition, he has served as a board member for the hyper-local Edwardsville Arts Center, and globally as a National Board Member of AIGA, The Professional Association for Design.
Re-engaging his inner painter
In 2013, Hartman’s love for painting began to resurface. Inspired by realist painters like Edward Hopper and Wayne Theibauld, Hartman began painting personal scenes and still lifes that spotlight his greatest passions – his love for his family, his love for his community, and his love for food. His paintings of everyday items, like a wind mill at an area apple orchard or the place setting at his favorite bar, and family outings, such as visits to the local custard stand and barber shop, resonate with fans.
Hartman doesn’t just capture the essence of his subject, he touches on its subtle complexities, from the silk on an ear of corn to the swirls and splashes in a soda bottle. He brings it to life in a fun and quirky way through exaggerated colors and free form brush strokes. Never boring or overly serious, Hartman’s pieces lure in viewers and take them back to the memorable moments in their lives, memories that resonate whether they grew up in small town Illinois or in a bustling city.
Hartman’s work has been featured in juried shows, galleries and art shows across the USA. In addition, to support the community he adores, Hartman has regularly donated proceeds from the sale of his original paintings and giclée prints, such as The Wildey Theater and Once Upon a Town, to local nonprofits and causes, including the Children’s Museum of Edwardsville, Edwardsville Arts Center, and The Main Street Community Center.
For Hartman, his reemergence as a renowned painter allows him to capture the meaningful moments in his lives and share them with an international audience.
“My work is truly about the moment. Each thing I paint has to move me somehow and be meaningful to capture as far as the experience. From a visual standpoint, if there’s a dynamic angle or color, that visual interest paired with a special moment is something I want to paint and what moves me the most.”