Marlene VonHandorf Steele grew up in Peaselburg, a German community in Covington, Kentucky. Her youth was largely centered around the modestly beautiful German Catholic parish of St. Augustine. It was there that Marlene attended daily Mass and parochial grade school with her immediate family including many cousins. She still remembers looking out and singing from the choir loft of St. Augustine Church at ornately stenciled vaulted ceiling, stained glass windows, statues, colorful murals and paintings.
Her earliest exposure to secular art was trips to the local Kenton County Public Library for Summer reading. It was there she viewed the local painting collection that the includes works by Frank Duveneck, Dixie Selden, Godfrey Frankenstein and other local artists of note.
Marlene would go on to attend Mother of God Church, her mother’s home parish. It was there as with most churches in Covington she would be surrounded by art. This church was dominated by colorful murals and work by Johann Schmitt, one of the most sought after ecclesiastical artists of the era in the United States.
Marlene showed a sincere interest in art as a child. At age 10 that her father took her for her first formal art lesson to nearby art instructor Ms.McCarthy. Aileen McCarthy was a student of Frank Duveneck at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. Her instructional emphasis was on tonal visualization and composition in drawing followed by optical mixing of pastel and oil painting. Marlene could go on to study at the Art Academy of Cincinnati on continually renewed scholarships for four years, majoring in painting under Herbert Barnett..While Marlene Steele has her own unique style, elements of the Munich School of painting and influence of Frank Duvenck’s work can be seen in her work. Easily taken for granted they both grew up in the same city with the similar German Roman Catholic backgrounds surrounded by a rich art culture in Covington, Kentucky.
Marlene’s oil portraiture is of the highest artistic quality with much. Her exceptional detail to facial features and musculature make her male and female portraiture unsurpassed. She is available for commissions, classes, demonstrations and lectures.Marlene currently Vice President of the Cincinnati Art Club. She owns Steel Studios, a continuously producing fine art Studio. Marlene has received numerous awards in all mediums, including oil, pastel watercolor. She has a passion for portrait and figure drawing. She was a recipient of the “Individual Excellence Award” Fiscal Year 2019, from the Ohio Arts Council in a statewide competition. Her series of plein air pastels and oil paintings documents the renovation of the historic Cincinnati Union Terminal and celebrates the contribution of craft and dedication of traditional trades in the revitalization of the Art Deco train station now formatted as Cincinnati Museum Center.
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