Stephen Scott Young 1957-
The Window Sill
- 16 3/4 x 20 3/4 inches (42.5 x 52.7 cm)
- Signed lower right: SS Young
Why We Love It
It is unusual for us to include the work of a living artist, but this watercolor compelled us to bend the rules. The picture combines strong, contemporary compositional structure, with a Vermeer–like use of contrasting light and dark tones. The simplicity of the scene, executed with elegance and precision, reminds us of the purity of a Chopin prelude.
Stephen Scott Young has garnered much praise for his mastery of watercolor, a most difficult medium. His paintings of young African American children, of nudes and still lifes all share the quality of being un-staged and honest. His fan base is large and growing. We believe that his works will belong in great collections from this time forward.
1957: Born in Honolulu, Hawaii; 1976: Attended Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. Began working in watercolor medium. His style matured in the 1980s. 1985: Awarded first prize at American Artist’s national art competition; Best known for his depicting the people, landscape, and architecture of Florida, coastal South Carolina, Georgia, and the Bahamas.
This still life by Stephen Scott Young stands out in the artist’s oeuvre in that Young is most known for his luminous portraits of African Americans or native Bahamians. Nonetheless, Young’s masterful handling of the watercolor medium and keen sensitivity to natural light is amply evident here in The Window Sill as is his deep reverence for such Old Masters as Johannes Vermeer and the great American artists Thomas Eakins and Winslow Homer. It is thus no wonder that collectors of historic American art admire and acquire paintings by Young, as they fit perfectly in the continuum of American realist painting.
The simplicity of the composition of The Window Sill is very much in keeping with Young’s artistic style. For him there is poetic beauty in saying something with less. The simple forms of the bottles, their plain arrangement, and the velvety darkness of what cannot be seen all work together to create a painting that is as tranquil as it is intriguing. The strong light of the foreground illuminates the objects of the known world and yet obscures what is beyond it in the interior of the room. Young gives his forms physical weight by building up layer after layer of the watercolor to create density, but because of the medium’s inherent translucency, the forms almost glow with light from within themselves.
Young acknowledges the influence of Homer and Eakins, even though they worked 100 years earlier. The subject matter of his figurative work is like Homer’s. The accuracy and close observation that each painting requires speaks to the legacy of Eakins. That Young looked to these artists’ work and found his own original artistic practice in their legacy is unique. There is little room in contemporary art for poetic realism, and yet Young’s success demonstrates that there is a strong market for such work.