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 Stefan Halvorsen  (1946 - 2003)

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Lived/Active: Wyoming/Illinois      Known for: mountain landscape, printmaker

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Ad Code: 4
Stefan Halvorsen
from Auction House Records.
Scrub Oaks
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Having explored extensively the regions of Wyoming and Montana, (beginning as an angler since the age of eight) Stefan Halvorsen painted mountain landscapes, especially scenes that reflect that changing light of early morning and approaching night.

He had a Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts degree and exhibited widely in the Rocky Mountain area. Halvorsen lived in the mountains near Cody. He was the first solo artist since 1911 to be commissioned to furnish art for a lodge or resort within the National Park System (Snow Lodge at Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park) and he was an artist-in-residence at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in 2000 and 2001.

Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale, 2003
The following Artist Statement and Obituary were submitted December 2003 by Erika Halvorsen, daughter of the artist:

Artist's Statement: Stefan Halvorsen

Painting landscapes is a reverent celebration of the natural world. It is a labor of love that continues to remind me I'm just a visitor, an observer, a questioner. Personally, there's a thing about life that's felt much deeper when painting. One becomes, somehow, a part of the landscape itself, unaware of the consciousness of observing. At times, the total absorption of concentration is such that one is the landscape being painted, unmindful of conscious observation.

For those of us who crave some closer glimpse of the truth underlying what we observe, it becomes a driving passion that rules our lives; we cannot put it away as an amusement. We sleep with it, eat with it, love with it and ultimately die with it on our lips. It is, I think, a form of possession. This ultimate passion for a thing heightens our intuitional being, allowing the birth of transcendent imagery. It allows for that element which becomes a whole greater than the sum of its parts. "It is that undeniably indefinable something that is absolutely essential." It is a very right brain activity. It is very Zen. At its highest level it is almost one hundred percent intuitive.

In describing how I work I am often amused by how truthful the Carl Andre statement is: "I work at the speed of things around me, which slows me down because my mind is always trying to fill the empty spaces which ought to be void." For me, creativity is not something one does; it's something one is. It cannot be measured by quantitative means. It is the essence of a focused spiritual aliveness that forms us all.

When I work on location outdoors, I must look to others like a person possessed. The light changes are so rapid it often takes a furious battle to make the materials respond to whatever first caught my eye; it's a frenetic one-on-one dance with the sun. If you're serious about this, there's no such thing as "casual outdoor painting." All you can do is react.

Studio work, on the other hand, by its very nature, is more methodical. There's time to think about it all; there's time to change things. For me, the danger is the potential lack of spontaneity. With large pieces, I try to work quickly in short passages with longer breaks in between. Virtually, the most exciting periods of any painting are the beginning and the end. If the work gets started strongly, it will, most always, carry my responsiveness to it through to the final stroke.

My more studied pieces (works created in the studio) are usually very soft and quiet with sometimes only hints of their opposite potential. "Perfect" light and weather leave very little expectation. I prefer the light of day and atmospheric conditions that are momentary in nature. To elicit these qualities from the materials, I use standard oil painting media. My fascination for rendering my subject matter the way I do is realized first, by manipulating pigment with small-to-medium hog's hair, filbert oil brushes to lay in a fairly accurate drawing. When that has dried, I either paint thin layers of color directly on that "drawing" or varnish it with Damar before proceeding. As the work progresses, I usually try to build the painting from "cool" colors to "warm" colors-dark to light. Because I wish the viewer to perceive the work as an ethereal moment in time, my preferred "softening" brush has evolved into a "Starbucks Coffee" brush, which I "ponce" or "stipple" onto the canvas to create the softness of the atmosphere of the event. Often I will use various sizes of sable brushes to further enhance that "softness" or to pull off highlights (a practice I use extensively on small, tinted panels when working directly outdoors on oil sketches during warmer months.)

All in all, my work is immersed in a view of this life, this natural world, this spiritual event, as an experience I perceive essential to us all...a juncture in time where we try to capture moments where we realize ourselves; where we unrelentingly chase the truth.
Stefan Halvorsen

Stefan Halvorsen died last week at his North Fork residence.

He was born Harold Stephen Halvorsen on Oct. 11, 1946, in Fulton, Ill., to Harold V. and Eloise Halvorsen. He spent his childhood in Iowa and South Dakota and moved with his family to Powell, where his father was director of bands, in 1960.

Mr. Halvorsen graduated from Powell High School in 1965. He served in the Army in Vietnam, playing brass instruments in a military band. His military service was pivotal in his life.

He graduated from the University of Wyoming with a bachelor of fine arts and later with a master of fine arts.

He enjoyed downhill skiing and taught many county residents to ski at Sleeping Giant. He taught painting and drawing to aspiring artists of all ages and was artist-in-residence at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in 2000 and 2001. His graphic design company, Graphicsource, served the needs of a wide variety of clients.
He was an immensely talented artist, fine musician and gifted writer. He was an intellectual with endless curiosity. He loved to dance. He also loved music, especially compositions by J.S. Bach and Jimi Hendrix.

He was happiest in the Wyoming mountains, painting or trout fishing. He was proud of the 18 large paintings that adorn the Snow Lodge at Old Faithful, commissioned by the Park Service for the first new lodge constructed in the park in decades.

He is survived by his daughter Erika Halvorsen of Rochester, N.Y., sisters Connie (Bob) Snyder of Houston, Louise White of Des Moines, Iowa, and Barbara Pavilko of Florida, numerous nieces and nephews and dozens of friends.


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