When I was in my 20s, far from home and trying to make my way as a painter, both Samuel Bjorklund and François de Asis encouraged me to work all the time. In my frequent visits to their respective studios, I marveled at the volume of work they were able to create, and was inspired by their commitment to paint in plein air – never from photographs. They lived their art. They were honest, diligent, unafraid of failure, and therefore willing to let go and seek the unknown.
Sam encouraged me to draw, always draw. He told me not to worry about the outcome; just keep drawing and painting. His regular critiques kept me going in the right direction.
François challenged me to paint rapidly so that the result would be fresh, spontaneous and authentic – not a copy of someone else’s work. I have great phrases that I think about while painting that come directly from François. He would always tell me, “Don’t be a slave to nature. Paint your experience in nature with your own poetic reaction.”
They shared what was important to them, conveying the best of their knowledge, sensibilities and experience – pushing me to grow. I have had countless discussions with them not only about art, but also about music, literature and philosophy. They watched me as I sought to find my “voice” as an artist – my brushstroke – and both seemed truly happy when they saw me make progress.
My relationship with them continues today. I am and will be eternally grateful for these two men – my mentors.
Steenhuis collection of works by Samuel Bjorklund & François De Asis
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