In 2007, Brad Stevens met Hillary Clinton. Someday, he said, he’d paint her presidential portrait.
She roared with laughter. He was serious.
That’s just one anecdote in a long George Washington Magazine profile of the 1972 Staples High School graduate. He earned a BA from George Washington University in 1976, and an MFA from there 3 years later.
Stevens is now one of America’s leading realist painters. His work — depicting Vernon Jordan, Allen Iverson, Felix Rohatyn, Senator Mark Warner, and dozens of other politicians, financiers, educators and judges — hangs in the Smithsonian, US Capitol, State Department, Mount Vernon and Monticello.
The GW story notes that Stevens has won praise “not just for his original portraiture and sanctioned copies of great works, but also for his landscapes and cityscapes. From the warmth of the sun to a face in the crowd and the visage of a president, he seems to find inspiration equally.”
Stevens says that his fascination with people-watching helps him “seize upon what makes someone special and different.”
The story describes the artist’s youth in Westport, where he inhabited 2 separate worlds: Staples basketball starter (he’s 6-5), and rock guitarist.
“I’m sure my hometown had an influence on my path toward the arts,” Stevens says. “It’s a culturally progressive place with many New York-based artists, illustrators, writers, actors, musicians and the like.”
At GW he played lead guitar in a comedy band, and received his 1st professional art commission: a caricature of George Washington himself dribbling a basketball on the court of the new Smith Center.
His early career included noted re-creations of the works of Degas, Monet, Manet and others. He’s been commissioned to reproduce famous works, including Gilbert Stuart’s famous full-length portrait of the 1st president (and university namesake).
Based now in Virginia, Stevens says that portrait painters “should have a certain lack of ego.” That’s because their work is entirely about the subject.
Portraits should link the present with the future, he says. Who knows? Maybe the future does include a presidential portrait, done by the talented Bradley Stevens.
(To read the entire story, click here. Hat tip to Jon Fraade.)