Stephen Scott Young began his creative journey as soon as he was old enough to hold a pencil and a brush. In 1976, he attended college at the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida and was immediately inspired by the works and styles of the “Old Masters”, Vermeer and Caravaggio. Young traveled frequently to the Bahamas in the early 1980s and was impressed by the crisp, bright light of the islands that had inspired Winslow Homer and others. It took him five years to be satisfied with his renderings of such light onto paper. His style matured soon after, and in 1985, he won first prize honors in American Artists’ national competition.
A virtuoso in the classical tradition, major collectors seek Mr. Young’s paintings and etchings to be displayed beside the great realists of the 19th century, such as Homer and Thomas Eakins. Both Young’s and Homer’s subject matter can be similar, encompassing the Bahamas and its native people. His execution, however, is essentially different and is influenced more by Eakins, who built up his watercolors in a more constructed fashion with delicate layers. He has often been touted as “the Wyeth of the South” and his control over all mediums is unprecedented. It is impressive, of course, that the artist’s works are now admired by collectors and museums worldwide, and are displayed beside his childhood heroes.
Young’s paintings are not simply nostalgic, but address the concerns of contemporary life. Visually, they possess an indisputably modern abstract power of design. Thematically, they deal with issues of race and human dignity that can be troubling and pertinent to the current American social condition. In the painting titled Homework, Young was intrigued by the juxtaposition of his subject’s school uniform against the tattered boards of her childhood home.
His watercolor painting, The Tournament, sold at a 1998 Christie’s Auction for $79,500, making him perhaps the youngest living artist to have paintings included at such a major event. Nine years later, on May 23, 2007, one of Stephen Scott Young’s paintings sold at Sotheby’s for a record $348,000. Titled, Red Bows, this magnificent watercolor began a new level of acceptance for the artist’s works.
While now an accomplished and recognized artist of several mediums, especially watercolor, Young openly admits that his favorite pastime is the tedious and challenging craft of etching.
Etching is much more tedious, and thus a more rewarding experience than painting. Both a science and an art, in its simplest form, it is to make a line; nevertheless, that is only the beginning of a long and wondrous journey into the mind of an artist and a scientist. With a paintbrush, the painter can cover large areas in rapid time, and covers his errors with a minimum of effort. However, the etcher must move along at a snail’s pace in comparison, making one line at a time, allowing them to cross and weave together to form an image in his mind, that he is only able to see until hours, sometimes weeks later. It is a long and arduous process, to etch, and only those with particular temperaments will be allowed to enter its wondrous domain.
In May of 2007, after twenty-five years of working within this medium, Young had over fifty copperplate etchings showcased in a one-man exhibition at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Art in Montgomery, Alabama.