Steven Morris


Steven Morris is an American figurative abstract painter with a surrealistic vision. His paintings fall within the lineage of the New York School of Abstract Expressionist and European Surrealist painters, as defined by artists such as Willem De Kooning, Mark Rothko, Nicolas Carone and Robert Motherwell. Like these artists, Steven explores both the real and unseen worlds that inhabit the human experience. His works celebrate the underlying human mysteries of belonging, separation, and the relationship to the natural world. There is an otherworldly quality to his paintings that evoke scenes of dreamlike narratives. He paints out of his San Diego-based studio overlooking Lopez Canyon Preserve.

Artist statement

Opposing forces influence me as an artist—be they when natural occurrences of when light meets dark, fluidity meets solid ground, an immovable object confronts an unstoppable force; Or, more directly, the opposing forces in the human relationship dynamics that meet their opposite: man and woman converging, humans expanding in our natural world, (wo)man’s never-ending exploration to conquer ever-greater quests meeting with our own inevitable mortality, or (wo)man’s search for deeper experience, presence and meaning in today’s fast-paced, tech-centric world.

I explore these juxtapositions as metaphor and dialog within my work. These juxtapositions become especially related to when we find ourselves, literally and figuratively, in the midst of these opposing forces. Our human condition is a natural and ever-evolving set of opposing forces: we are physical beings having a spiritual experience, called life.

I believe that the best art is a breaking of bonds—an invitation for the freedom to see anew. It is an exchange between the work and the viewer, with the intention that the work moves the viewer to a new sense of seeing the world and being in the world—an invitation to be transported. In a sense, all of my work is an attempt to express what words, often, cannot say. These unstatable notions often create what the Japanese call “wabi-sabi,” meaning to discover the perfect (or grace or divine) within the imperfect.

The invitation within this deeper unfolding, and within my artwork, has more to do with how we see and define the deeper meanings of events and circumstances of our human experience, versus how they might be perceived from the visual-only, surface-level view. The gifts of imperfection encourage us to show up in the world with a fierce vulnerability and delve into our experiences with a wide horizon of perspective.

My artwork lives between the natural, the unseen, intuitive and spiritual worlds. As well, being trained as both an artist and designer I’m constantly drawing upon the meaningful narratives of human story and emotion. I make art that takes the viewer on a cathartic journey within their own intuitive self and throughout a moving world of “painting something as it’s felt, not as it is,” as Georgia O’Keeffe stated.

About me:

I am a San Diego-based painter with more than three decades of creating art and design. I have an MFA from Temple University, Tyler School of Art.

I was born and raised in the second smallest state in the country, Delaware, and spent much of my childhood roaming the farms and forests of the suburban edges New Castle County, and my summer’s camping up and down the east coast with my family.

As a child, I was artistically influenced by the Realist narrative works of the Brandywine-area artists Andrew Wyeth, and the artwork and books of Maurice Sendak.

In my late teens, I moved to the North Shore of Boston to study painting with Marc Rouzens, a student protégé of Mark Rothko, and later to Philadelphia for further artistic and design training gaining an MFA from Temple University, Tyler School of Art being taught by Margo Margolis.

Because I was trained in the lineage of the Abstract Expressionists, I have been strongly influenced by modern masters, including many of the New York School and the European Surrealist painters, namely Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell and Mark Rothko.

In the mid-‘90’s my wife Christine Morris (author, bodyworker and yoga instructor) and I moved to San Diego to spend more time in harmony with our work and the natural, oceanic world of the west coast. Over the years, in addition to pursuing my artwork, I have founded multiple businesses, including a nationally recognized creative agency (Mth Degree, Inc.) and my brand and culture consultancy Matter Consulting (MatterCo.co). During this time I have also taught art and design at multiple colleges on the east and west coasts, including Salisbury State University, San Diego State University, and San Diego City College.

In addition to the galleries I show and sell work, my artwork exists in several private collections.

Contact for acquisition and gallery inquires: morris111@mac.com