31 Oct Professional artist Stephen Osborn to be featured at Nov. 15 Soiree
Steve Osborn was an only child in Glendale until the age of 15. “I was a normal kid who played outside, where I was supposed to be. I had no curiosity about art.” Moving to Palo Alto at the age of 12, he eventually enjoyed drawing hot rod cars, their large tires requiring use of perspective.
Osborn tolerated high school and didn’t perceive himself as talented. With a stepfather in the union, Osborn had no higher education aspirations. After graduating he welded at Hunters Point Shipyard. A welder’s life in SF on submarines and aircraft carriers had its perks: “being with the guys and swearing a lot”.
Osborn first married young, and the newlyweds wanted more from life. He attended San Mateo Jr. College, where he explored engineering to no avail. Next came thoughts of becoming a psychologist, also to no avail. Third, he took a course in art and anatomy. Using charts and graphs and books to copy from, he drew detailed human forms and was fascinated.
Osborn next operated a blueprint machine for engineers at Eimco. Since there was no way to reproduce worn drawings in the ‘60’s, Osborn traced them, then drew his tracings freehand. He became a technical illustrator creating exploded views of intricate machines and structures.
When Osborn shared his desire to go to college, the firm invited him to stay on as technical illustrator. Osborn enjoyed illustrating at home, going to school, and being in the office one day a week. “It was wonderful: I was well paid, at home, and used my work drawings for my student thesis.” He thus paid his way through college in seven years’ time, as his wife and he alternated years attending college.
As a graduate he landed a job in Palo Alto with Sam Smidt Graphic Design. Four of the most creative years of his life had commenced, and the accolades arrived–awards in graphic design and illustration for annual reports, ad work, posters, and brochures; clients included Ampex, HP, Applied Materials, Syntex Pharma, and American Housing Guild. Meanwhile at home Steve Osborn produced his own fine art woodcut prints. The work is clear and evocative. Figures intertwine. Stark black and white take hold of the message with simplicity and power. The ideas behind them seem inexorable. An alphabetical assortment commands attention. A figure stretches to both sides, or are these multiple figures in league together?
While drumming up business, Osborn visited Dugald Stermer at Ramparts Magazine and sold his fine art woodcut print work on the spot. It was time to set out on his own. In 1967, after securing a two-room studio in Palo Alto, he rustled up clients. Steve did three layouts each for dozens of book covers in a single year for Stanford Press, and had fun! Seven years of solo work brought Osborn Studios its own awards and that recognition catapulted business. Osborn also showed his woodcuts at a gallery in SF and taught graphic arts and illustration at San Jose State.
In 1980, an artist walked in with a portfolio. The two dated, and married six months later. Jacci had come from Sunset Magazine. She joined Osborn Studios, and a team of two autonomous artists formed. However, the advent of Apple’s Mac later turned the design business upside down. Consequently. thoughts of adventure took hold, and the couple went off to Santa Fe in 1993 to paint.
Returning to the Bay Area a few years later, Steve and Jacci’s fine art joined the art fair circuit. Steve had the energy for 12 shows a year! In 2008 the market fizzled. At this point fine art was compelling to Steve, so he began learning water color as the couple bought and sold houses for financial gain. Today Steve Osborn paints watercolors rich in tone and design which draw one in to discover fine detail, warmth and charm. He has also been creating cartoons about Rossmoor life and beyond. Three of his sculptures will also be on display at the soiree. One, a human head, is segmented, and gives rise to rumination about the mystery of thought itself.
At 7PM hear Rosemarie Krovoza on viola and Meriel Ennick on flute; peruse the art until Anna George sits in conversation with Steve Osborn at 7:30PM. Enjoy an uniquely edifying evening together!