By Will Bowen
“I don’t use brushes when I paint. I use trowels,” says Stephanie Paige, one of the featured artists at Contemporary Arts Gallery, 7946 Ivanhoe Ave. Paige will be at the gallery to greet visitors and discuss her technique at the upcoming La Jolla Wine Walk & Taste from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20.
Paige uses marble powder, which she mixes with water and applies to pine wood panels with a trowel, to create oversized modern abstract mixed-media landscape paintings. She adds color with powdered pigments, which she swirls into the mix, and actual rust powder, applying all in layers that need about a day each to dry. Sometimes she will even place “found objects” — pieces of metal from the junkyard, rebar, or bits of sand and pebbles — into her creations.
Paige has a proclivity for the colors blue and turquoise painted to look like a peaceful and serene seascape with the sky in the background. One such. called “Wind & Sea,” recounts the time she paddled her kayak up to La Jolla from Mission Bay and was swamped by 20 swells requiring a rescue by lifeguards in a powerboat.
Sometimes Paige will switch things up by applying greens with rust or a hot active red to the pine board, or change the striation of the colors to vertical. In all of her art, the thing that grabs your attention is the play of chance — the way the colors swirl or melt by their own accord.
The contrast of open space versus density of images is also important. There are often intriguing allusions or shadows in her landscapes, which are actually created by the mind of the viewer trying to make sense of randomness and abstraction.
The surfaces of Paige’s landscapes are textured, but surprisingly smooth when felt with the fingers, and she encourages patrons to “touch my art.” Even if a small piece of the marble plaster chips off one of her paintings that’s OK with her — she likes imperfection. She thinks every piece should have at least one.
Paige’s work is decorative and influenced by an eye for design, interior decoration, and architecture. Her paintings look great in the living room or bedroom, offering a pleasant meditative experience of peace and calm, which is derived from her interest in Buddhism and the idea of Benevolence — mixed in with a good dose of a deep love of nature.
Paige will often work with clients who commission her paintings by going into their homes so she can see the setting and the client’s needs and tastes.
Paige was raised in the small town of Ortonville, Mich. on 10 acres of open woodsy land. Her father was a builder and her mother an artist. She describes her childhood self as, “A nature girl who loved and rescued animals.” After experiencing a broken heart, she said she threw a dart at a map of the USA and it landed on Tijuana, Mexico, so she made a call, packed up, and came out to San Diego for a job in an art store. She began her art career by painting murals for restaurants and clubhouses. Her work with faux- and Tuscany-styles evolved into her work with landscapes on wood panel.
Paige is basically self-taught, although she had a bit of art education at Farmington Hills Junior College in Michigan, and Palomar College out here. She said she begins each new painting without plans or a scheme, allowing the creative muse to direct her.
“I’m overjoyed to be invited to show at Contemporary Arts Gallery,” she said. “It has been a dream for many years to be in that gallery. I submitted work for consideration to Contemporary in the past, but this is the first time I was accepted. This is a dream come true.”
But then Paige believes in dreams. She says, “I love dreams! I believe that anything is possible for me ... and for others.”
• (858) 361-1828
Merchants Association selling tickets to walk in the Village
8th annual “La Jolla Gallery Wine, Walk & Taste”
5-9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20
Launches from Visitors Information Booth on Prospect Street, then on to galleries, restaurants in the village
$40 in advance at
or (858) 322-5008.
$45 at the door
Free shuttle service
The eighth annual “La Jolla Gallery Wine, Walk & Taste” will be held from 5-9 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 20 around the village. This ticketed walk-around will allow participants to stroll the streets, visit art galleries, sample fine wines, and savor sumptuous cuisine from local restaurants. Proceeds will benefit the La Jolla Merchants Association, so the profits will go back into the community.
There are 13 art galleries involved, including Madison, Carleton, Africa and Beyond, Derissi, Galeria Jan, Prospect Place Fine Art, Simiak, Peter Lik, Martin Lawrence, Colosseum, Contemporary, Mangrisen, and Los Manos de Artesano. Most are located on Prospect Street, the rest just a half-block or so up an adjoining side street. All of the galleries will have their own unique selection of red and white wines. Some will have food.
There are 25-plus restaurants participating, including Alfonso’s, Aquamoree, Brockton Villa, Bull & Bear, Crab Catcher, Eddie V’s, and the Mediterranean Room at the La Valencia Hotel. All will have food to sample. Many are along Prospect Street interspersed with the galleries, although some, such as PrepKitchen and Extreme Pizza, are several blocks away on or near Fay Street. These restaurants can be reached by a free shuttle.
Check-in, which includes a free map, will be near the intersection of Herschel Avenue and Prospect Street at the Visitor Information Booth near the cigar store where the shuttle will stop. From check-in, guests go right or left up Prospect, then circle back around, to take the shuttle to the Fay Street area restaurants.