Born into a military family in Austin, Texas, Ralph Steams began life moving. He first moved to Wichita Falls in 4th grade and attended City View Elementary School. He graduated from Petrolia High School in 1972, and decided to follow his father's lead. Enlisting for two years in the United States Marine Corps, Stearns was stationed throughout southern California and worked as a legal clerk and court reporter. Upon discharge, through the G.I. Bill, he had money to pursue education in his heart's true calling... fine art.
Stearns was awarded a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Midwestern State University in painting and sculpture in 1981. Lamar Advertising of Wichita Falls quickly snatched up the talented artist to work in the billboard industry. He served the company for 15 years as commercial artist and art director.
"I painted everyday, that was my job," Stearns explains. "If they said we needed a hamburger, I painted a hamburger." A hamburger painted on a 14 X 48 foot pictorial billboard can be quite abstract so Ralph learned stylization, speed, and design. However, in 1996, with computers revolutionizing personal publishing and the printing industry, Lamar followed suit and Ralph, abruptly without notice, was without a steady job.
So he became a self-employed artist, participating in local/ regional/ international art shows, and instructing and painting Wichita Falls. Hired as district mural specialist, his paintings brighten the daily grind at Wichita Falls Independent School District schools. He refers to the large scale religious oil paintings in two Wichita Falls churches as his "legacy". His caricatures, created during various area venues, bring a smile to all portrayed. But his most visible paintings adorn buildings. His realistic cyclists race to the finish on the "Hotter than Hell Race" headquarters. His giant parrot behind a faux brick wall brings double-takes to travelers on Kell Boulevard.
Ralph has won several awards, including recent blue ribbons for oil paintings in the Kemp Center for the Arts "8 x l0 x ?" show and the 2005 Lake Country Art Show in Graham. He has received the Juror's Merit Award for 2003 and 2005 at Vernon's Red River Valley Museum show.
Ralph explains, "I am a figure painter. Once you learn the basic elements of painting, you can manipulate work any way you want. I am a passionate artist that loves forms and color. I love it; I breathe it. My favorite medium is oil, but my favorite style, well, I change with the weather.'"
Steams is a member of the Wichita Falls Art Association. He instructs portrait and figure painting and all kinds of drawings. He is available for private, arranged group lessons. He does commissioned works and designs.
All Art and Representations of Art are Copyright the Individual Artists.