PA Wilds Artisan Spotlight: Steve Getz
Clinton County native Steven L. Getz has been immersed in the arts for most of his life and has found himself working in just about every medium one can think of. However, the adventure of finding new methods of expression never tires him.
His fine art journey that began at Lycoming College in the mid-seventies led to over 30 years of commercial art employment. From consumer products and packaging to advertising and marketing, the Hudson River School Artists that he dearly loved in college seemed worlds away. Today, Getz sees his experiences as a true bonus to his craft, as he was able to develop the discipline of a commercial artist and later apply it to his fine art.
That experience has led to Getz’s digital paintings, a byproduct of spending countless hours on Mac computers for commercial art projects.
“Sometimes the journey takes a detour but returns you to a better place than where you left it. I have been very fortunate to have worked in various creative positions my entire career,” Getz said.
Lately, Getz has been focusing on two methods of digital art. In the first, he uses a combination of photography with digital painting and the second is totally comprised of digital painting. The difference can be easily seen in examples of his work.
(Photos above from the The Wilds Cooperative of Pennsylvania Creative Makers Exhibit – by Katie Weidenboerner)
In “The Princess and the Dragon,” Getz uses a photo of a female model and then the sky, armor, dragon and crows are painted in Photoshop with a stylus and Wacom pad. “The trick was to blend the painted portion with the model photograph. This was achieved by manipulating the model photo to have a slight artistic feel while painting the dragon and background in a more illustrative style,” Getz explained.
In a second example, “Still Waters at Daybreak,” Getz totally sketched and painted the piece in Photoshop using the same basic methods he uses to paint a traditional oil painting. Picking colors from a digital palette and choosing various brushes, you can adjust brush width and paint density by applying more or less pressure. The challenge for Steve was to make it look like fine art and not a computer graphic or an illustration as in “The Princess and the Dragon.” Getz believes this form of digital art closely mimics his oil painting style, although it is totally done on the Mac with a stylus and pen.
“When discussing digital painting, many people think you push a button and artwork magically is created in the deepest crevices of the binary code in a computer,” Getz quipped, adding, “I’m still searching for the magic button.”
In fact, these innovative projects often take Getz the same amount of time to complete as an oil painting, he notes.
“I go through most of the same procedures – a reference photo, drawing and finally painting. The biggest advantage is that I don’t have to wait for the paint to dry,” he said. “It is just a different way of artistic expression and both should be equally appreciated for their own merit.”
Getz still sees value in traditional painting techniques, while understanding the limits of that media.
“I truly love painting in oil or acrylic and can’t envision a time that I wouldn’t do so,” he said. “However, digital painting gives me that same feeling but in a slightly different way. The excitement of taking a Wacom tablet, stylus and computer to create fine art is very freeing.”
The artisan also said his style is more apt to change from piece to piece when digitally painting, explaining, “I believe it has to do with an experimental attitude within the medium.”
Lately, Steve has been experimenting with oil painting over metal foil. He starts with adhering small squares of metal foil to a birch panel using the same process that has been practiced for centuries. The illumination of thin paint glazes over the reflective foil, giving the painting a very unique look. Currently he is working on a series of landscapes and wildlife paintings using this process for upcoming exhibits in 2018.
In addition to creating fine visual art using both graphic design software and traditional media, Getz also works on various projects for commercial clients, including marketing and advertising campaigns, exhibit displays, catalog features and more. In fact, that is much of what Getz and his business partner, Carol Ann Simon Cillo, spend their time working on at IF- the Idea Factory, a marketing company Getz founded in 1990.
Looking back at his many experiences in the field, Getz credits his inherent interest in the arts to a special time in his youth. Growing up mostly on a Pennsylvania farm, Getz spent time living in Detroit for a short period, where he was able to visit city art museums and learn more about art history and culture. Not long after, during his senior year of high school, he had a vision, “I was going to be some sort of artist.” He spent a year at Williamsport Area Community College, now Penn College, in the graphic arts curriculum before going on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree from Lycoming College.
After college, Getz was employed at C. A. Reed, Inc. in Williamsport (Lycoming County). In those early years, Getz helped with design, licensing, and marketing of party goods – all the while learning a lot about business.
As Licensing Director, “I was exposed to things that were coming out two years in the future, but we were already looking to make products for it,” he said.
Getz found himself working on commercial art for organizations like the National Football League, Lucas Films, Sesame Street, Marvel Comics, Major League Baseball, and Disney, where he was exposed to many great creative departments and continued to learn about business in the art world. In that environment, he learned to build successful concepts and product lines in addition to successful businesses.
Aside from working on his personal and professional art, Getz is actively involved in his local art community, helping to enhance access to and uplift appreciation for the arts. He served as vice president and president of the Clinton County Arts Council and continues to serve on the board and as director of Lock Haven Jazz & Art on Main Street Festival (LH JAMS), a cultural music event initiated by the CCAC in collaboration with partner organizations from across the Central PA region.
Getz’ was selected for the prestigious “PA Wilds Artisan of the Year” award in 2016. Getz’s artwork can be found in both private and public collections, and galleries throughout the region. A few of the places you can view his work is The Station Gallery in Lock Haven, Susquehanna Gallery & Frame Shop in Jersey Shore, Gold Leaf Frame Shop in Williamsport, Cameron County Artisan Center in Emporium, The Gmeiner Art & Cultural Center in Wellsboro, Art Space in Bloomsburg, The Thomas Taber Museum in Williamsport and The Bellefonte Museum of Art in Bellefonte.
In addition to being a juried Professional Artisan in the Wilds Cooperative of Pennsylvania, Getz is also a member of the Clinton County Arts Council, the Bellefonte Art Museum for Centre County, The Art Alliance of Central PA and the Bald Eagle Art League.
Learn more about Steve Getz on his Wilds Cooperative of PA member profile: www.wildscopa.org/Sys/PublicProfile/27615914/3733480.
One of rural Pennsylvania’s largest networks of creative entrepreneurs, the Wilds Cooperative of Pennsylvania (WCO) is the main program through which small businesses and nonprofits – from artisans to breweries to B&Bs to outfitters to retailers to restaurants to galleries to designers to videographers – engage with the Pennsylvania Wilds brand, networks and platforms. Functionally, the WCO is the listings backbone for the regional visitor site pawilds.com; the product supply line for the PA Wilds Conservation Shops physical and online stores; and the entry point for those looking to team up on PA Wilds licensed products in the market place. The PA Wilds Center promotes the WCO as part of the overall Pennsylvania Wilds experience. Visit WildsCoPa.org to learn more.