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 Stephen Warde Anderson  (1953 - )

About: Stephen Warde Anderson


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Lived/Active: Illinois      Known for: naive classical figure and portrait painting

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BIOGRAPHY for Stephen Anderson
1953 (Rockford, Illinois)

Often Known For
naive classical figure and portrait painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following biographical information was supplied by the artist December 2011:

Stephen Warde Anderson (1953- ) is a self-taught outsider from the Midwest whose acrylic paintings are executed in a style best described as naive classicism.  Interests in history, literature, mythology, classic films and TV, and UFO's have inspired work that comprises stylized portraits (often of historical figures and vintage movies stars, mostly feminine), whimsical fantasy scenes, chimerical creatures, a variety of figurative tableaux, and other genres.  

Anderson was born in Rockford, Illinois in 1953 and has spent all but a few years of his life there.  His father was a bricklayer of Scottish descent; his mother has a distinguished early New England genealogy that includes descent from five colonial governors and sixteen ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War.  The artist's grandfather was illustrator and cartoonist E. Warde Blaisdell who worked around 1900 and was notable for being one of the first artists to portray animals with human clothes.  Blaisdell's father, the Hon. Elijah Whittier Blaisdell, Jr., a founder of the Republican Party and early supporter of Abraham Lincoln, was an abolitionist, newspaper publisher, politician, attorney, and author.

Anderson attended the University of Chicago for a year and then spent four years in the U.S. Navy, much of it on a frigate home-ported in Athens, Greece.  With no training, he was past thirty when he began to take up art.  Experimenting, he developed his own methods and techniques, initially employing tempera paint which was mixed and dried in bottle caps, reliquified with saliva, and applied with flexible plastic styluses cut from whipped cream containers.  By the late 1990's he was using acrylic paint with more traditional techniques, although he employs prismacolor pencils to add finishing touches.  Rather than canvas, he paints on 4-ply museum board glued to panel.  Early paintings featured frame-like that were build on top of the painting board.  Later, he constructed his own frames, but seldom does so now. 

In 1988, after showing his work in local venues, he found broader gallery representation.

While Anderson has continued to work full time as an artist, he has also done a great deal of creative writing, with some of his work published by

Museum Collections include:

The Smithsonian Art Gallery

Art Institute of Chicago, the Roger Brown Study Collection

Museum of American Folk Art, New York

Intuit, the Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, Chicago

Publications include:

100 Artists of the Midwest, E. Ashley Rooney, Schiffer Books, Atglen, PA, 2012.

Encyclopedia of American Folk Art, Gerard C. Wertkin, Editor, New York, 2004.

Self-taught, Outsider, and Folk Art: A Guide to American Artists, Locations, and Resources, Betty-Carol Sellen and Cynthia J. Johanson, McFarland and Co., Jefferson, N.C., 2000.

Museum of American Folk Art Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century American Folk Art and Artists, Chuck and Jan Rosenak, Abbeville Press, New York, 1991.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

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