Ian Stephenson was a British painter. Born in 1934 in County Durham, Stephenson began his artistic education at what is now the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, where he studied between the years 1951 – 1956. Following the completion of his degree, Stephenson remained at his alma mater as a teaching assistant where he aided in developing a popular pedagogic foundation course. The highly abstract paintings Stephenson produced, colourful compositions created using bold, unique methods, began to gain great acclaim in the early stages of his career. After some time spent travelling throughout Italy on the prestigious Boise Scholarship, Stephenson began teaching at the Chelsea School of Art in 1959, a position he would continue to hold until his appointment as Director of Foundation Studies at Newcastle University in 1966. During this time, Stephenson continued to develop his distinctive style of abstraction. His compositions were typically made by layering splattered droplets of paint on to canvas, producing a myriad of colours, effects and textures. His first solo exhibition was held at the New Art Centre, Wiltshire in 1962.
In the following years Stephenson would participate in several exhibitions, including touring exhibitions in South America and the Far East. Despite the growing public and critical appreciation of his work, Stephenson remained dedicated to expanding the practice of arts education. He accepted a position as Principal Lecturer at the Chelsea School of Art in 1970, where he would remain until retirement in 1989. The artist served for over 25 years as senior assessor to several eminent art schools throughout Britain. A major retrospective of Stephenson’s work was held at the Hayward Gallery in 1977. Such was Stephenson’s popularity that several other solo exhibitions and retrospectives would follow in the years to come. In 1986, Stephenson was elected an academician of the Royal Academy of Arts. The artist continued to paint in his highly distinctive way until his death in 2000. His work can be seen today in the collections of the Tate and the Royal Academy in London,
and several other institutions both in Britain and abroad.