Stecei’s grasp of the essence of the region is uncanny. Through It, a depiction of a garage in Barnstable, is imbued with a light and form that are simplicity itself, yet holding a deeper, more complex story. When Stecei saw the garage, he was taken by the light appearing through it. “It was very simple,” he says. He took photos and worked on the oil painting in his studio. He also paints en plein air, smaller canvases that must be completed faster, and therefore have their own excitement.
In his utterly unpretentious style, Stecei talks about the fun of working with paint. “I love the texture, colors, weight,” he says. “If it drips or is in a big chunk, I really enjoy it.” The somber atmosphere of Neighbors, a marsh scene marked with a pair of lonely birdhouses, was achieved with layers of oil. Stecei first applied an under layer of oil paint in thick, broad strokes of red, yellow, and green. After the canvas dried, he painted the landscape, allowing some of the under layer to show through, evident in the faint red streak over the marsh and the heavier colors in the dramatic sky. That, Stecei says, “is the abstract part of me.”
Abstract art was Stecei’s first passion. He laughs as he recalls being the youngster in his painting and drawing classes. “I was 14 or so; I was surrounded by a lot of senior people,” he says with a smile in his voice. “My friends were skateboarding downtown. I really wanted to learn how to draw and paint. After class, I would go skateboarding.”