When Torpedo Factory associate artist Stephanie Lane agreed to paint a mural in a D.C.-area home in 1990, she didn’t know she was cultivating a relationship that would bear fruit for more than 20 years, even as she blurred the lines—as our artists often do—between a traditional workplace and a paint-flecked studio.
“I was commissioned by an interior designer and ended up painting at the house for about five years,” Lane says. “The owner was the president of the National Italian American Foundation, and in 1993 he hired me to paint the organization’s Wall of Honor. It was quite a feat—mainly because I don’t use a computer to project images on walls, the mural is on a wall above a staircase, and I work alone. Eventually, the wall was filled with plaques naming their donors.”
Recently, the NIAF tracked down its former president, long since retired, to ask: Who was the artist who painted that wall? As it turns out, they had a new task for Stephanie Lane: They now wanted a more contemporary-looking—yet still classical—Roll of Honor to acknowledge founders, chairmen, and other vital donors.
|“At Water’s Edge,”
oil on paper “wet drawing,” 46″ x 26″
“It was a wonderful feeling to be asked to come back after all that time,” says Lane, who has fond memories of doing her work while others were trying to do theirs. “I had gold-leafed the ‘eggs’ in the egg-and-dart motif crown molding in the president’s office, where the ceiling is about 15 feet high—did it all on a ladder,” she says. “The president was working in his office while I was doing it, and I could hear him giggle now and then. I asked him what was so funny. He said, ‘It’s raining gold!’, as little pieces of gold would fly around and land on his desk.”
It’s a busy time for Lane, whose work ranges from representational commercial commissions to abstract fine art: She’s in the current issue of Studio Visit, a series of juried art books, and this summer, she’s teaching “Art Making: 2D Processes” at the Arlington Arts Center, where she’ll help familiarize students with a wide range of surfaces and techniques.
“By the end of the class, they’ll be better able to interpret and express emotion and personal vision,” Lane says, aware that a life in art leads to lasting relationships. “Painting is only the beginning.”