My 'Why' Story

This photo captures what I call a Norman Rockwell moment. It’s me practicing my passion for en Plein air painting. Or open air painting. This particular day, my wife Bobbie, a close friend of ours Valerie, and I were on location near a Schaumburg Church and schoolyard one warm spring afternoon. In mid painting, the recess bell rang and dozens of curious children quickly swarmed our easels. As children often do, they started asking questions, great questions in fact. “What are you doing?” “Can I do that?” “How long did that take you?” But the best question by far, and to this day I struggle with answering is, “Why do you paint?” WOW! You could have knocked me over with a feather. My answer, at the moment, was something like… “To understand the light” or “to see better”. Bobbie, whose easel was set up just a few yards away, captured the moment. Oh for that curiosity and wonderment of a child, may we always have it with us, never take it for granted.

I’m also reminded of what The Coach, John Wooden said, “The person who know ‘how’ will always have a job. The person who knows ‘why’ will be his boss.” In art as in life, it’s best to know both.

The ‘how’ is easy. Isn't ‘why’ so much harder? So, what’s my ‘why’? Why art? Why now?

Art for me is a way of connecting things. As Steve Jobs so eloquently said, “Creativity is just connecting things”. My ‘why’, is to capture and connect to the moment; connecting people in shared experiences to this place and this time. Creating, connecting and experiencing life in all its fullest, and giving back in worship, to our Heavenly Creator, gratitude for all. All the while, leaving something of beauty behind that could last for centuries. These are just a few of my ‘Whys’.

After spending 35 years as an artist, designer, architectural illustrator and vice president of marketing for a world-wide engineering firm, I'm now creating a life being a husband to my artist/wife Bobbie Puttrich and full-time fine artist and instructor. My passion for teaching is second only to my love of painting. 


Christine H.
"Steve is a very good artist and understands the challenges of producing beautiful and inspiring art. He stresses to his students the importance of choosing early on a focus that inspires the viewer, working on strong composition and color. He is a very kind and giving teacher. I believe he is primarily a watercolor artist and approaches oil painting much like a watercolorist. That said, his oil paintings are just as beautiful as his watercolors."

Karen G.
"His art work in oils and watercolors are exceptional. His teaching style is calm, encouraging and clear. He covers basic principles of painting while motivating each student's personal style. Looking forward to more classes and workshops with this great teacher!!!"

Karen B.
"Positive, attentive, personable, knowledgeable, technically skilled in both watercolor and oil paints, as well as always prepared for his weekly lessons. Overall, I highly recommend Steve to every artist I meet."

Carol F.
"Steve is patient, inspiring and very generous with his incredible knowledge. I highly recommend him as an artist and an Instructor."

Jack M.
"Steve is very patient and enthusiastic with helping students and willing to pass on all knowledge to us. I learned Plein Air painting from Steve and will attend more workshops when they are offered"

Tara R.
"I took two painting classes with Steve, enjoyed both. Steve is able to explain the process. He shares his knowledge and experience with various techniques. A talented artist and a great teacher, Steve is fully present while teaching- makes time for each student and has a joyful spirit. Highly recommend!"

Christel L.
"Always encouraging with contagious love for drawing and painting, watercolor acrylics or oil. He will never make you feel intimated if you are a beginner or redirect you if you are set in your ways and only need support."

Tom F.
"Steve taught at a very good pace. He challenged all of the students to complete one or more paintings during each class; even the first class. Steve is a very talented artist and he provides wonderful demonstrations during each class that emphases a different painting technique. I learned a lot and look forward to participating in another of Steve's classes."

Becky K.
"He gives excellent instruction and encouragement for all levels."

Bo H.
"Steve is so deeply passionate about his craft, which in and of itself is invigorating and motivational. I've know him for more than fifteen years and learned much from him about a broad range of topics in that time. But I've been blessed with the opportunity to sit with brush in hand for formal lessons on several occasions in the past couple years. I'm a career-long digital creative and comfortable with hand illustration and other analog media, but paint was something I'd not done in decades before joining Steve for a class at the Palette & Chisel – Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago. Perhaps most importantly, Steve made me feel completely at ease and genuinely helped me find a passion for painting I didn't realize I had. In all sincerity, this would have remained dormant for another several decades if not for that first lesson (i.e., tipping point) with Steve. I highly recommend his lessons for my fellow beginners and Steve's fellow masters alike."

Comments from 2018 workshops
“Steve is an excellent teacher/coach, as well as an outstanding artist. I learned a great deal from this workshop with him. I sincerely hope that he is invited back again as I would enjoy and further my skills with another class with him.”

“Steve is an excellent artist and instructor. He is well prepared and encouraging.”

“Steve Puttrich was the best instructor I could have imagined! He was fantastic!”

“Steve was a very generous instructor, answered group and individual needs. Great demos and explanations about his techniques.”

“This workshop opened up a whole new world of watercolor to me.”


At the 2017 Brush with Nature event held at Emily Oaks Nature Center, WGN TV's Sean Lewis interviewed me during the painting of my Milkweed Painting. Here's the two minute edited story.