Celebrity artist finds inspiration in Fallon | NevadaAppeal.com

Celebrity artist finds inspiration in Fallon

JOSH JOHNSON
Nevada Appeal News Service
Josh Johnson/Appeal News Service Fallon resident and artist Stan Stevenson makes a daily habit of drawing or painting. The portrait behind him of Chief Red Cloud was derived from a photograph of the Sioux leader.
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FALLON – At some point every day, you can find Stan Stevenson drawing or painting in his small office filled with shelves of art books, portfolios and his portrait of Chief Red Cloud hanging on the wall.

It’s a cathartic requirement that keeps his artistic skills sharp, a habit cultivated over the last 50 years.

“Some people are alcoholics. I guess I’m a paintaholic,” he said with a chuckle.

Stevenson’s odyssey as an accomplished illustrator and portraitist has brought him to, of all places, Fallon.

He and his wife of 43 years, Esther, settled in Churchill County about nine months ago after hearing about Fallon from a friend. In their married life, they’ve had 40 residential addresses, both in the United States and abroad.

“It’s a great, quiet place to retire,” he said of Fallon.

A native of Durham, England, Stevenson said he was bit by the artistic bug at a young age.

“I’ve always drawn,” he said in a muted but discernible British accent. “I was the typical guy who drew teachers on the blackboard. I was whipped for it, of course.”

An artist’s skill resides not only in his hand, but also his blood. His grandfather was a notable sculptor who once formed the image of President Grover Cleveland.

Stevenson is perhaps best known for his portraits of celebrities, government officials and sports figures.

According to his artist’s profile, Stevenson’s been commissioned by Elvis Presley, Eva Gabor, Admiral James Stockdale, U.S. presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan and the Rose Bowl Queens from 1982 to 1990, among others.

His résumé includes work for TV Guide, Sports Illustrated, Reader’s Digest and several businesses.

A U.S. Army veteran, Stevenson received a medal from President Eisenhower for his service in Korea.

The following year, he was stationed in Berlin, Germany, where his major reported directly to the president.

The president visited Berlin and recognized the man he awarded a year earlier.

“You call me Ike, and I’ll call you Stan,” Stevenson recalled hearing that day.

Eisenhower also remembered that Stevenson was an artist and offered the young soldier a chance to paint his portrait. The painting hung in the White House for a time, he said.

Mamie Eisenhower even invited him over to the White House for some of her famous “million dollar” fudge, Stevenson said.

He also has a da Vinci-esque curiosity in anatomy, a passion he claims better allows him to understand the intricacies of human facial structure. His painting of Jesus Christ, referenced on multiple Internet sites, was modeled after the facial structure found in the Shroud of Turin.

His fascination took on a practical application when he worked at a morgue at Ohio State University for a time, he said. He also taught anatomy in San Marcos, Calif.

“You can’t be a decent artist unless you know anatomy,” Stevenson said. “You have to know what you’re painting.

At age 73, Stevenson doesn’t handle the volume of work he once did, but still receives inquiries, often from the families and children of those who commissioned him in the past.

He sees a beauty in the desert surrounding Fallon and is anxious to put his own perceptions of the area on canvas.

“Any artist, no matter how old they are, is still learning,” he said.

— Contact reporter Josh Johnson at jjohnson@lahontanvalleynews.com.