Motion on Canvas

A Coconut Creek artist’s work depicts his heritage and
passion for life

Artists always seem eager to delve into the reasons behind every creative decision they make and discover the stories intertwined within their imagination, which then transforms into each stroke of a paint brush.

While the aesthetics draw a viewer in, the story behind it is often why people fall in love with a piece. For artist Marvin Steel, his story of art is very much about the evolution of his life.

Born in Detroit and raised in Miami, Steel’s love for art began at an early age. With a mother who believed in his talent and artistic ability, Steel took art lessons at age 6. He started out sketching depictions of his childhood hobbies, boating and fishing.

As an adult, Steel trained under some of the best artists in the world, in places such as Russia, the Netherlands, France and the famous Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Spain, whose alumni include Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí.

Steel’s artwork has grown in detail and popularity—not only in Spain, but also in America. He has spent most of his life as an artist mastering the skill of art restoration, and many years painting and studying the human body.

A resident of Coconut Creek since 1980, all of Steel’s artistic influences have helped bring out his inherent talent and develop his unique technique and style that people have come to know and love. His flamenco art is particularly notable and was recently featured at the 13th annual Festival de Canto Flamenco at the Adrienne Arsht Center.

Instead of examining a photograph, he begins his artistic process by watching videos of his chosen flamenco subjects from his travels, and studies their sense of movement to capture the spirit of the culture. Using his memory and imagination, Steel then brings these paintings to life.

“My love for listening, watching, and painting Flamenco musicians and dancers, comes from my family, as well as the inspiration I felt after immersing myself in the spirit and culture where the art of Flamenco was most present, in cities like Seville, Spain,” Steel says.

Steel describes himself as emotional and eccentric, which is evident after getting a peek into his imagination. He turned a portion of his Coconut Creek home into an studio with Spanish paintings that line the walls and tables, in bright and sharply defined colors. Like the music he loves to play on his guitar—taking after family members who played for flamenco dancers—his paintings are composed of bold, strong lines and strokes of vibrant and brilliant colors.

To cover his canvases, Steel creates his own paints out of various materials. His subjects are reminiscent of his multiethnic upbringing—including Jewish, Arabic and Indian influences—as well as his travels and adventures abroad.  The sense of life and movement, which is repeated throughout his work, is free from cynicism or pessimism.

For Steel, his art is much more than just a hobby, it’s a lifestyle.

“Art to me is life, and anything that I am attracted to or inspired by,” he says. “If I am inspired by something, that is what I like, and when someone is not, it is meaningless.”

Speaking with Steel, it is evident he doesn’t care about what people think about him or his art, and doesn’t paint to just sell. What he truly cares about is his pure passion and love for life itself—which shines through on every canvas.

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