Forever drawn to bold colors, and the female form in general, it was a no-brainer to feature the playfully seductive work of Steve Morrell. 

You grew up just outside of New York City and studied design at Long Island University. Can you share with us a little bit about your journey from design in NY to painting in Colorado?

I first picked up a paintbrush and started painting denim jackets at around 12. When I was a kid, having your favorite metal band’s album cover painted on your jacket was all the rage, and I’ve painted more Iron Maiden jackets than I can even recall. I continued painting throughout high school but when the time came to figure out college I decided to study graphic design instead of fine art because I didn’t want to live the ‘starving artist’ life. I moved into a career in advertising, first as a graphic designer, then art director, then copywriter. There was actually a long hiatus between college and my late 30s when I didn’t pick up a paint brush at all. When I did return to painting it was to do dog portraits, but I never really felt like an artist, and wasn’t even comfortable with the term. I felt more like a paintbrush for hire. 

I came to Colorado in 2016 because I was growing tired of the advertising scene and was looking for a career change. I didn’t think that new career would be art, but soon after I arrived here I rediscovered psychedelics, which seems to have coincided with and/or inspired this creative rebirth that has led me to where I am now.

How does being mostly “self-taught” inform your style? Are there freedoms, or pros and cons that come along with this path and way of developing your talent?

It’s hard to say. I’ve taken a class here and there but haven’t had a formal education other than design. Sometimes I think having some official instruction would do me some good. I’m very chaotic in my approach and I could probably benefit from the structure an education might provide. But I also understand that art schools create their own dogmas about how art is supposed to be done so I’m glad to have the freedom of ignorance. 

Sometimes it seems like working with oils in painting is a lost art form. Why is this, and what compels you to work in this medium, one that many consider a difficult but timeless format?

Oh, I think oil painting is very much alive and well! Yes, there is a classic timelessness to it that traditional artists love but there are also modern artists doing such innovative things with oils. I find it such a versatile, rich, juicy medium. I also switch back and forth between oils and acrylics, depending on what I’m trying to achieve. I like the immediacy of acrylics, and the colors pop just a little bit more, but whenever I spend some time with acrylics I always feel relieved to return to oils. NFTs won’t be replacing oil paint any time soon.

You have such a beautiful eye for exploring the human form, portraiture and the expression of your subject’s overall being and experience. This is a magical part of your aesthetic. How do you so expertly capture this in your work?

A big part of what I’m trying to convey in my work is a sense of play, freedom, and power. The secret sauce for me is the spontaneity of my photo shoots. I’ll often have my models jumping on a trampoline to capture an ethereal but playful quality. I’ll have an idea of the types of movements I want to capture, but more often than not the best images and paintings result from the unplanned randomness. When the paint hits the canvas I’m trying to make marks that also capture the energy and movement of the models while also being accurate to the image.

Can you give us a glimpse into your studio and process? Is there music playing? What are your guiding principles when choosing your subject matter? Where do you find inspiration?

My art is, of course, many things to me, but I also treat it like a job. I’m in my studio every day by 9:30 and I work till 5 or 6. The place is a disaster, and is an accurate representation of the chaotic person that I am. My studio is in an open layout that’s divided up among other artists so as loud as I’d like to play my music, I’m always wearing headphones, usually listening to dancy electronic or jazz.

My subjects are almost always women. Sometimes I’ll do a still life, as long as it’s in keeping with my vibe. I tend to do nudes but that’s not a rule either. I have theories as to why I focus specifically on women, but to truly understand exactly why would be to understand the inner workings of my subconscious. Perhaps it’s mom shit. Perhaps it’s an attempt to connect to aspects of the divine feminine. Perhaps those two are the same thing? Above all, and not to get too woo-woo about it, making art is a connection to spirit, to mystery, and the female form feels like the right vehicle to make that connection for me. 

Inspiration comes from living life. (And Pinterest:). Sometimes I’ll be out and about and see someone that just has something about them that I’d like to capture. My models are rarely professionals. Doom scrolling through Instagram is also a great source of inspiration. My feed is filled with other artists and I find a good way to mix things up is to emulate other styles that fascinate me. My art never ends up looking like a copy of another artist’s work, but takes on a life of its own.

What advice would you offer to budding artists?

If you’re a new artist, try different things all the time. I mean, I’m a budding artist myself. Every time I work on a new painting I ask myself “what can I do here that I haven’t done before? How am I making this fresh?” There’s always a hint of an old painting in every new one, it’s a great way to create your own momentum. Speaking of creating your own momentum, you’ve got to go out and network, it’s part of the job. Get on mailing lists of all the local galleries, go to openings, shoot the shit, meet people, volunteer. Being an artist is humbling. When I first started, I just wanted to be in galleries, but quickly realized you don’t just introduce yourself in an email and get handed a solo show. Eyeballs are eyeballs. If you haven’t cracked the gallery code yet, hang your work anywhere you possibly can. Coffee shops, fairs, your front yard!

Where can people view your work? Any upcoming exhibits?

I’m part of a group show at Bitfactory that opens on January 19th and runs through March 8th. I will also be in a show at Krueser Gallery in Colorado Springs that runs from February 2nd through the 23rd. Then I’m off to LA for a few months to seek opportunities there. While I’m there I’ll be a part of a group show put on by Aristocratix (previously known as NudeArt LA) which begins on February 9th. In April I’ll be at The Other Art Fair, also in LA. In June I’m having a solo show in Boulder at The Bus Stop Gallery in the North Boulder Art District. And of course, there’s always my website,

How do you envision your style evolving in the future? What directions are you excited about exploring?

I’m constantly looking for new techniques, new ideas, and new mediums to employ in my work. I don’t exactly know where I’m headed in terms of the evolution of my style, I just know that I’m attempting new things all the time. I hope that my work gets more sophisticated, more elegant. I don’t know if I’ll be painting the feminine form for the rest of my career, although I wouldn’t be the first artist to spend his life doing that. I’d also love to get my hands on some spray paint and taking a shot at a mural-making. Overall, I’m very excited for the future. It’s a really wonderful thing to be able to do the thing that lights you up every day, and I’m so grateful to be doing what I love.

Thank you so much for sharing your vision, Steve. We look forward to seeing more of your work!