Making up for lost time

Steve deLuque worked out the perspective in 'Falling for Love No. 2' entirely in his head before he began painting, with no preliminary sketch.
Steve deLuque worked out the perspective in 'Falling for Love No. 2' entirely in his head before he began painting, with no preliminary sketch.

Imagine Steve deLuque standing in his Los Osos studio, a hairdryer in one hand, paintbrush in the other.

He's not coiffing his locks or brushing butter on a pastry, but hurrying the process of drying acrylic on the canvas. “I'm totally far too impatient a painter to use oil,” deLuque said, adding, “I'm the most impatient person you've ever met.”

This from a former baker, who must have had to resist urges to take a peek in the oven.

DeLuque, who chaired the Open Studio Tour 2010, is currently featured in a one-man show at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance.

“I really tried to focus on portraits and figure drawings that I've been doing for the last 10 years.”

Eleven years ago, deLuque gave up his last business, Utopia Bakery, and began pursuing his first love: art.

“In 2000, I decided to start putting brush to canvas again and see what the hell happened.”

Although he had taken every art class offered at Cal Poly while majoring in natural resources management in the 1970s, the bakery business kept him too busy. “For 13 years I did absolutely no art whatsoever.”

Once he began painting again, he was on a roll. He's been vice president and president of the Oil, Pastel and Acrylic Group, and co-hosts and co-produces “Ears on Art” on public radio KCBX.

His first exhibit, at Linnaea's in 2003, caused a “huge controversy” for its political content, he said.

The Los Osos artist doesn't give a hoot about sparing feelings.

He lets it all hang out, as is apparent in “Mid-Life Crisis.” The large painting reveals him standing, his arms above his head.

The idea for this self-portrait was triggered by a misdiagnosed mis-diagnosis of a heart attack. While undergoing tests in the hospital, deLuque felt helpless. “I felt bound,” he said. “My life was completely out of my control. Hospitals completely take over. You just feel powerless.”

For two years, he visualized the painting until he was ready to put brush to canvas. It's his usual way of working. “I can actually do the composition in my head, move things around, change the perspective.”

De Luque doesn't bother doing a sketch first; he just goes for it.

His painting titled “Pointless, Pointless, Pointless,” three portraits of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, is from a previous politically themed exhibit. The small portrait in the canvas's lower corner is “very Dr. Seusish”; the middle painting has more of a photographic quality, such as might appear in a newspaper; and the largest is skull-like, nearly pointillistic, in shades of gray, representing Rumsfeld's responsibility for so many deaths, deLuque explained.

Most of his work in the show is colorful and in acrylic, save for “Goddess.” A female form appears in black from a white background, but is rendered in white conte crayon on black paper.

“I really enjoyed that reverse thought process,” said deLuque, who is pleased with the results. “I think it's a very soft and sensuous effect.”