From August 17, 2015
When I was 17 years old my dad took us down to Cannon Beach, OR with his brother and his family. It was the second trip we took together, but this trip was incredibly impactful for me. I visited Bill Steidel’s art gallery (www.steidelsart.com), and I watched Mr. Steidel work on an art piece for about an hour. I spent some of that time looking at all of his creations, and I asked him some questions as he worked which he was willing to answer. I learned that he was a former Disney animator, and I watched how he seamlessly incorporated mixed media to create beautiful fantasy artwork incorporating the Cannon Beach environment from which he drew his own inspiration. I went back to high school in the fall of my senior year with a strong desire to emulate this master artist.
My skills at that time were not up to par (and in many ways I still have a lot to learn), but that example set a bar for me in my own mind about the type of work I hoped to be able to create some day. After 19 years I was fortunate to be able to take my family down to Seaside, and we drove a few more miles down to visit Cannon Beach. I was very excited to be able to step into his gallery once again after so many years and so many drawings. Unfortunately, he wasn’t there at the time, and I was only able to spend a few minutes in his shop before it was time to move on with the family. However, there were some new pieces there that I enjoyed seeing along with his masterful pieces from decades ago.
As we walked around the town and went down to the beach I think I began to understand a little more about what he was trying to accomplish with his work. I’d have to ask him to verify this, but I think Mr. Steidel chose to live in a place that he loved and wanted to share this with the world through his own personal style. Haystack Rock is breathtaking as are many areas in the Pacific Northwest. When he creates a piece he incorporates magical creatures in with these natural elements utilizing a variety of techniques and media to create something that is visually stunning.
I found myself inspired differently than I had been when I was 17. I decided that I wanted to share my area in my own style with the public. I can never be Bill Steidel, but I realized he can never be me. I could learn things from examining his work, but there needed to be a time where I created my own. I needed to express my own vision of what it means to visit Port Orchard so that my community and our tourists have a memento they can take with them to hang in their homes or offices. Over the next year my goal is to create some of these pieces and make them available to the public. Who knows, maybe I’ll inspire the next 17 year old.