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oil and watercolor


Judy Steffens’ decades-spanning practice has focused primarily in figurative painting, though her subjects have been wide-ranging. Each of Judy’s paintings depicts a visual encounter that she has experienced and which sparked her imagination. “I focus on the moment, elevate it, and express what it is that inspired me in that fleeting moment,” says the artist. Her work demonstrates an intimacy with the subject and thoughtful story-telling. “I see something I want to paint every day,” she says.

Horses were her first love. Judy recalls drawing horses at her school desk as a young second grader. She was drawn to the illustrations found in the books of C.W. Anderson, Wesley Dennis, and others, which lined her bookshelves. She would then spend hours studying and copying those drawings.

Inspired by the revolutionary fashion trends of the 1960’s, Judy found new inspiration for her drawings in high school. What started as sketching girls in cute outfits in the margins of her notebooks in class turned into a focus and interest in drawing people, which is a consistent theme throughout Judy’s decades of practice.

Judy focused her collegiate studies in fine art at Millikin University, where a young Preston Jackson was one of her professors. It was there that she realized her love of art would be an enduring part of her life. Judy earned her Bachelors from Bradley University.        

After college, Judy expanded her practice to include photography and learned her way around the dark room, printing in both color and black and white. She pursued photography passionately as art for more than a decade, finding inspiration from the likes of Cindy Sherman, Diane Arbus, and others. The camera continues to be an integral part of her art process as Judy frequently uses her photographs as reference for her paintings.

Today, Judy is a Central Illinois artist and works from her studio at home. Judy and her husband have lived in Florida and Colorado and have traveled extensively, cataloging inspiration for many paintings along the way. Judy actively supports and promotes local artists and is sure to visit local art galleries every place she travels. Judy is grateful for the love and support of her family, especially her husband, her son and daughter, and for her young grandsons.

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