Cartoonist/writer/painter opens show Feb. 4
SHARON — Peter Steiner is a man of many talents. He paints, he draws cartoons for The New Yorker and he is a successful author of mystery/thriller books. A show of his paintings will open this weekend, Feb. 4, at the Norfolk Library and remain up until March 1. The opening reception will be Feb. 5 from 4 to 6 p.m. The show features Steiner’s paintings of views from the High Line Park in New York City as well as some Litchfield Hills scenes. Steiner, who has been painting since 1977, moved to Sharon eight years ago. Previously he was a teacher at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa. After that he lived briefly in Georgia and the Washington, D.C., area before moving to Sharon.“I left teaching to become an artist, and began painting and cartooning at the same time.” He succeeded first as a cartoonist, with many of his works featured in The New Yorker. He continued painting and had occasional shows at galleries and elsewhere. Steiner has also written a trilogy of thrillers published by St. Martin’s Press.“I call them novels, but the publisher calls them thrillers or mysteries because there is a kind of mystery in them,”Steiner said. “But I don’t think of them as mysteries in the conventional sense. I think of them as being more about the main characters.”The novels all feature Louis Morgon, a retired American CIA government agent who has retired to the Loire Valley of France. He tries to turn his back on his former life, but somehow it keeps intruding.Steiner’s fourth book is due out late this summer. Titled “The Resistance,” it features Louis Morgon and is mainly about the French resistance in World War II. And now that the writing is done, he can turn back to painting. Steiner said he paints mostly from photographs he has taken. “I try not to be too slavish to what’s in the photo,” he said. “I use the photos as a way to begin and for initial guidance. Then after a while I just go my own way.”The series that he will show in Norfolk features views from the High Line Park in the West 20s in Manhattan. The park is constructed on what used to be an elevated railway.“There is something magical about looking out over the city from that level. You’re not that high, you’re outside, it’s like a birds-eye view. The plantings on the High Line are wonderful. They’ve done a terrific job with it. And it’s fun to paint the city.”Steiner said it takes him six to eight hours to paint one of his larger canvases. “There are a lot of layers of paint on my paintings. They are very loose but have a lot of very quick brush work. Each painting is unique. I like painting. I like writing novels because they’re a big, sustained thing that goes on and on, that get larger and larger as you work on them. “The thing I like about painting is exactly the opposite. They are a small, contained enterprise. Almost from the beginning you can see it is going somewhere. It has more immediate gratification than writing, although they are both basically the same process of discovering.”Steiner estimated that he completes about 30 paintings each year. “I go back and forth between painting and writing. Not every day. I might write a whole novel before going back to painting. This past year has been more of a painting year.”Each art informs the other. When Steiner writes, colors comes to him vividly as he describes scenes. When he paints, he often finds story ideas for his novels coming to his consciousness.And of course, there is the cartooning, which is the synthesis of writing and drawing. His latest cartoons can be found online at www.plsteiner/blog.