One painting a day. That’s the humble task Craig Stephens took as his personal approach to art. He ended up raising the practise of painting to the height of “métier”. The task of one-painting-a-day may not be impossible to accomplish, especially if you splatter some color on a canvas and then give it a strange title, as many self-styled artists do, convinced that painting is a matter of inspiration and personal expression (we’d like to remind them that art is, first of all, universal). But, going back to Stephens, his work as a painter is rigorously linked to a form of self-respect that demands respect. We don’t call it artwork intentionally, because art – in his case – is so evident to be palpable, and work seems a nobler and more respectful word. Painting, to him, is a full time job, not a part time activity. Craig paints so much that his brushes merge with his hand into a single tool. Craig paint so well that his neverending learning, in the end, led him to teach art. We look at the two “Martini” paintings and get a glimpse of his evolution, not only in mastering the technique, but also in extracting the essence of things from reality. Every single painting has mouthwatering brushstrokes of lush oil colors, and a complex simplicity which is distilled by an everyday, almost zen practice. We find Stephens’ production, for his continuing quality, freshness, intensity and moral stature, simply extraordinary.