I draw in black and white with ballpoint pen and graphite pencil. I like contrast, line and form and put a spot of color to spice things up and tease the viewer’s eye.
For subject matter, I draw people using old photographs as reference. I search for photographs of children, their pets and men and women at work and at play - conventional subjects drawn in an unconventional way
My family albums are my primary source as well as magazines and books. I find a picture that evokes some kind of emotion in me when I see it, and when I get that "I want to draw this" feeling, I go to work. The photographs I use reflect everyday life in America, something most viewers can identify with and have feelings for.
In fact, the inspiration for my art is usually an old family photograph stored in a shoebox. For me, those images represent typical family life in America. When I connect with one of those images, I internalize the subtle feelings it evokes then give it new life on a larger scale using a unique style.
I work in mixed media-pen and ink, pencil, charcoal, watercolors, and occasionally airbrush. Although my drawings are predominantly black and white, one or two colors usually appear somewhere in each work. I enjoy the fine line work that I use in shading. Even though I consider myself a ‘realist’, I sometimes get abstract when rendering folds and various textures. I’m sometimes surprised at the shapes and images I see within my main image when I sit back after completing a piece. I also slightly "distort" the faces of my subjects…that’s been my style since I can remember. My people are all slightly quirky - exaggerated facial features, gangly legs and knobby knees, and grown-up heads on children’s’ bodies. Sometimes they look out at the viewer with a curious, intense gaze, making one wonder what they were thinking when the original photograph was taken.
Steve Opet graduated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in 1975, making Dean’s List his last two quarters and earning an Associate’s Degree. In 1990 he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree, Point Park College (now University), Pittsburgh.
Opet was a Weirton Steel employee for 24 years. First as a union worker, then communications specialist creating monthly safety posters, then foreman, Sinter Plant, and finally Planner in Utilities/BOP.
Opet enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve in 1982. He served with the 99th Army Reserve Command during a 3-year active tour (AGR) as an illustrator.
Opet has served in Kosovo as part of Operation Joint Guardian, and twice in Iraq for Operation Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, 10th Mountain Division, Multi-National Division – Center. In his free time, Opet created over 70 color and black & white cartoons for the 10th’s publication, “The Mountain View”, which are now part of the permanent collection of the 10th Mountain Division Museum, Fort Drum, NY.
Opet has won more than 70 awards, including 22 Merit Awards, five Best of Show, 14 1st Place, and 6 Special Awards.
In the military, he has won 12 First Place awards for Illustrative Art in the Keith L. Ware Annual Competition for excellence in journalism, and in 2009 received a Thomas Jefferson Award at the Department of Defense.
His piece, "Barefoot Swingers", won an Award of Excellence (Purchase Award) in the West Virginia Governor's Annual Exhibition, 2003. In 2012, “Sunday Ride” received an Award of Merit at Tamarack, Beckley, WV, and was featured in their Best of West Virginia calendar. In 2018 his piece, "BOP Shop Welders", was chosen for Best of Show in the Heritage of Steel Art Exhibiton, Top of the State Studio, Weirton, WV.
His cartoon art can also be seen in: Drawing Fire - The Editorial Cartoons of Bill Mauldin; The Comic Art of War by Christina M. Knoph; and Armed With Abundance by Meredith H. Lair.
Opet is a past president, and current member of the Steubenville Art Association, Steubenville, OH, and also a Board member, and artist with the Cape Fear Studios, Fayetteville, NC. He is also associated with the Cumberland County Arts Council, and Moore County Art Association.
Master Sergeant (R) Opet, a life-long resident of Weirton, WV, currently resides in Fayetteville, NC,, with his exceptional spouse, Ilene (nee Mushrush) O'Riley-Opet, and retired from the United States Army Reserve Command, Fort Bragg, NC in 2014 with 32 years of service.
Cross Currents, Stifel Fine Art Center, Wheeling, WV
Wellsburg Art Association Annual Show, Wellsburg, WV
Steubenville Art Association Annual Show, Steubenville, OH
Realism 88, William and Mary College, VA
Bethany College Annual Exhibition, Bethany, WV
West Virginia Artisans’ Guild Competition
West Virginia Governor’s Juried Exhibition, Charleston, WV
Realism 99, Parkersburg Fine Art Center, Parkersburg, WV
West Virginia Cultural Center One-man show, Charleston, WV
Wintersville Art Center Annual Show, Wintersville, OH
Three Rivers Arts Festival, Pittsburgh, PA
Tri-State Festival, East Liverpool, OH
Three Artist Show, Zanesville Art Center, Zanesville, OH
Ohio Valley Art Exhibition, Moundsville, WV
Southside Art Show, Pittsburgh, PA
Cynthia Bickley Annual Art Exhibition, Beckley, WV
Tamarack, Best of West Virginia, Beckley, WV
Annual Fine Arts Festival, Campbell House, Southern Pines, NC.
Allied Artists of West Virginia Juried Exhibition(s)
Public Works Exhibition, Arts Council, Fayetteville, NC
Cape Fear Studios 8th Annual 2D National Exhibition, Fayetteville, NC
Army MWR Annual Arts and Crafts Competition, National
Raleigh Fine Arts Society Annual Exhibition, Raleigh, NC
• U.S. Army Reserve
• Fayetteville Observer
• Private Citizens
• Military Personnel
• The Double Eagle
• Elite Magazine
• The Checkerboard
• The Mountain View
* Armed with Abundance by Meredith H. Lair (page237)
* The Comic Art of War by Christina M. Knopf
art reproduced on pages 47, (Fig. 2.1-2), 64 (Fig. 3.1-2), 119 (Fig. 6.2-2)
* Draw Fire-The Editorial Cartoons of Bill Mauldin, published by The Pritzker Military Museum and Library, (pages 88-89)
* In The Wiggle Room by Leslie Miklosy