“Loitering in Mystery,” Rick Stephens. Landscapes aren’t easy, they’re difficult, if you really LOOK. I’ve followed this Stephens guy, and he has his own way of doing things, of seeing things. He speaks his own language, but he never stops translating. My dear departed friend and accomplice, Patrick F., and I had a long drunken conversation about this over the phone one late night (early morning) long ago. May God bless his soul. Every artist wants to be “successful.” To be “full-time.” To be “gallery represented.” To earn their living by the fruits of their creative efforts alone. So do I. Here comes the “but”… But, there’s a quagmire one must avoid. If a painter looks at the market and conforms to what’s popular, it’s easy to get mired in repetition, painting the same theme, the same subject, in the same way over and over… because the same sells. A formula, not an observation, not a discovery. I never want my work, however sparcely produced, to devolve from creation into manufacturing of wall decor. Rick walks the line admirably. He interprets the splatter of detail into organic abstract shapes, and deploys hue, value, and scale to create depth. This is not a realist painting. I guess we might call it impressionist, but that not be right either. Can I stroll around the grounds inside it? Yes.