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Penny Benjamin Peterson

The value of poster prints.

A three artist profile.

By Elliot J. Nitkin

enny Benjamin Peterson

Penny was born in States Center, Iowa, but grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. The warm Arizona sun coaxed her family out West when she was five. She has wonderful memories of living on the farm. Her childhood life was simple, and life on the farm seemed magical to her.

It took her a few years for the memories of green and snow to fade but she grew to become a true desert rat. Says the artist, “When the desert is in full bloom it is awesome. A lush desert sounds like an oxymoron but it does make quite a transformation. These prickly, sometimes dry-looking strange plants suddenly come alive with color.” While it is still in the “slumber state,” as Peterson likes to call it, “the desert is still beautiful with its subtle changes in terrain and the way the sunlight and evening sunset changes the colors of the mountains and the cacti.” One needs to be quiet and pay attention to really appreciate the desert. “I am influenced by these observations and my paintings reflect this with their bold splashes of color mixed with the serene, calming, spiritual effects of introspection.”

Peterson resumed her art education in her twenties. Previously, she had always focused on drawings and this taught her to work with paint. She then learned as much as she could about art, becoming active in local art organizations and taking classes. In 1988 her older sister passed away, causing dramatic changes to occur in her art. She met a wonderful teacher, Eleanor Harris, who became her mentor and taught her about collage and non-objective shapes. Harris was the first to guide her transition to non-objective painting. “It is very cathartic for me to paint non-objectively,” says Peterson.

Peterson feels that sharing her art is an important part of being an artist. She does this with special interest projects such as organizing an art auction to benefit the Arizona Easter Seals and taking a group of artists to the Easter Seal Camp to teach painting to handicapped children and adults. She is also a fervent supporter of Free Arts for Abused Children and the American Diabetes Association. Penny also has been a tutor artist for the Diabetes Auction for the last two years.

Corporate and private collectors throughout the United States and Canada own Peterson’s paintings, including the Circus Circus Enterprises, First Interstate Bank, National Car Rental and Magellan Resources.

Click here to see her work. >

Philip Craig

Philip Lorne Craig was born in Ottawa on July 29, 1951 and began his art studies in high school. After graduation, Philip continued on to Sheridan College in Oakville Ontario as a graphic design student.

In 1971, he returned to Ottawa to work for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a television graphic/set designer. In 1975, he became Art Director for C.B.C. in St. John's Newfoundland. By 1985, demand for Philip's work had become so great, he returned to Ottawa to pursue his Fine Arts talents full-time.

Philip now paints exclusively in oils and his work is represented by galleries in Canada and the United Kingdom, as well as in a large selection of corporate and private collections throughout Canada, the United States, England and Europe. Philip currently resides with his wife Diane, son Johnathan and dog Toby.

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Robert Striffolino

Robert Striffolino was born in New York city in 1950 and was raised on Long Island. Although from his childhood he could draw spontaneously with extraordinary skill, he never took a formal art class, feeling that his drawings were so personal he could allow no one—not even teachers—to interfere with his art. Instead, he majored in architecture at Ohio University. After his graduation he was hired by the City of Cincinnati as an architect. However, in spite of earning good commissions and professional recognition, he began to feel increasing frustration over a life and career too distant from the art he loves.

In 1978 Striffolino left his architect’s job to embark upon what he has since called “an odyssey: I decided to travel for as long as I needed to re-establish something in my soul, something I had gotten away from.” He backpacked and camped along for seven months starting in the Great Smoky Mountains, then along the Gulf Coast and across Texas to New Mexico, through the Rocky Mountains north into Canada, and finally across to the Pacific and down the California coast. It was while camping in California within sight of the Pacific Ocean that he made the decision to settle down and paint in earnest. This decision he later said “resounded in my soul.”

“Elmer Bischoff said, ‘You have to bring off a fusion of your interest both in the subject and in the painting. It’s like walking on a tightrope...the paint on canvas plays a double role -- one of an alive, sensual thing in itself, and the other conveying a response to the subject. Between the two is the tightrope.’ I like the fact that I need to feel that tension. I feed information onto the canvas until a dialogue begins. Listening becomes paramount because then I can discover what the painting needs in order for it to blossom. Another balance and tension I seek is between the landscape imagery and my emotions. That kind of tension and edge keeps me coming back to paint again and again.”

Working in series or motifs, Striffolino does not usually paint specific places, but paints ideas or conglomerations of places, concentrating mostly on the interactions of color and shadow to express the idea of a place. He strives to simplify—to break the elements of a landscape down to their essence of light and shadow. He wants to articulate on the canvas the intense feeling he has about the physical dynamics of the landscape or the juxtaposition of colors and light.

Click here to see his work. >