Stephen Eugene Mirich
If ever there was a boy with a one track mind for the sea, Stephen Mirich would be him. He would rather look at the world through a porthole than a square window. This obsession has followed into his adulthood and has always found its way into the subject matter of his art. Mirich has spent his whole life around the water, surfing, diving, sailing and yacht racing. He worked for short times in fishing, as a cook on tugboats and on the docks as a longshoreman.
In 1954, the year that Stephen Mirich was born, the port town of San Pedro was still full of the smells from thriving fish canneries. The sounds of fog horns, tugboat whistles, railroad cars banging and the clatter of ships unloading cargo could be heard day and night. You knew someone if not everyone who made a living from the harbor or the sea. This would have a lasting influence on the four year old whose interest in art was already revealing itself. His mother found an art teacher who could give her son a few lessons in watercolors when he was seven. He sold one of these watercolors to a family friend for ten dollars and used the money from his first sale to buy a more professional set of watercolors. By the age of ten he had picked up techniques in pen and ink, watercolors, charcoal and was experimenting in oils. He also started building model ships which helped him gain accurate knowledge for the ships that had already become a regular subject of his paintings and drawings.
Mirich recalls his school years where he would often be found in class drawing compositions for future paintings. His teachers would usually take exception to this but several of Stephen's teachers would delight in asking the young artist to go to the chalkboard and sketch a clipper ship, name the sails and other parts and describe how the ship would operate. He would oblige his teachers and in minutes would fill the chalkboard with drawings of various rigged sailing ships and explain all aspects of nautical lore.
As a teenager, Mirich soon developed a love for going outdoors to sketch and paint, giving him the opportunity to observe and record directly form nature. He entered one of these paintings (a watercolor of Point Fermin Lighthouse done en plein air) in his first major art competition at age fifteen. Due to the proficiency of his work he was placed in the adult division where he won Second Place. He followed this with numerous awards in local and regional shows and began to regularly exhibit his work. During these early years Mirich was essentially self-taught. In college he briefly studied architecture but primarily focused on a career in fine art. His first formal training in art was under the noted artist, Theadore N. Lukits (1897 - 1992) at the Lukits Accademy of Fine Art in Los Angeles and also private studies with Julian Ritter (1919 - 2000).
At age twenty he began painting full time and exhibiting with the Morseburg Galleries in Los Angeles and was soon exhibiting throughout the United States. He was quickly gaining national recognition with his carefully rendered depictions of historic maritime scenes such as The Battle Of Trafalgar (1805) or famous clipper ships like Donald McKays's Flying Cloud (1851). Long hours were spent by the artist doing research and sometimes numerous sketches were required before doing the actual painting. After twenty years of specializing in Maritime genre he longed to paint outdoors, to paint what was in front of him. Around 1995 he began painting en plein air in earnest.
Stepping outdoors from the studio with his paintbox, Mirich embraces the painting methods of the impressionists needed to quickly capture fleeting moments of light. With quick brushwork and an intuitive sense for color he transforms his canvases into nuances of color. He travels across the United states and through Europe for his inspirations as well as teaching his techniques to others. At times you may find him in a field at night with small battery operated lights attached to an easel enabling him to capture the nights sky or huddled under an umbrella while painting the effects of snow or rain.
Mirich currently resides in Portuguese Bend on the Coast of Southern California where he paints the landscape that surrounds him, the graceful hills and welcoming coves of California, paintings inspired from his travels, and the sea.
Mirich is a Signature Member and past Vice President of the California Art Club, Founding Member of the Portuguese Bend Artists Colony, past Artist Member of the American Society of Marine Artists, Life Member and Past President of the San Pedro Art Association.