AN INTERVIEW WITH ARTIST BRITTINI RENEE

Brittini Renee returns to Art Copy to share her ideas about the contemporary artist.  She has recently joined her creative efforts with community projects that raise awareness and resources.  I’ve enjoyed being an onlooker to the creative development of this young artist, poet,  and now  community animator.  Please join us for an interview with a gutsy young artist who continues to find her own voice, style, and purpose.

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Art Copy:  Welcome back to Art Copy Brittini Renee.  Would you like to introduce yourself?  Where do you find ideas for your work?

Brittini Renee:  Life! I can be walking the dog, playing with my kids, or washing laundry and BOOM! a idea hits me.

AC: Do you feel that your art reflects your personality?

BR:  I feel that my art reflects not only my personality but also my opinions. Some opinions are more pronounced in my art than other’s but regardless, its always there if you look hard enough. 

AC:  How has your practice changed?

BR:  My practice has not changed just matured. I have ventured into using mediums that I have never used before, which has caused my art to slowly become more mature/advanced.

AC:  You’ve been busy writing a novel, have a book of poems available on kindle, and have been organizing community projects.   I remember reading one of your poems last March and admiring your courage in defining your own individual style.  Looking at your new art, I’m impressed by how you’ve been able to marry your creativity to your private concerns with the world around you.  In Mother’s War, for example, you’ve neatly joined your art with your concern for climate change into a practical fundraising campaign.

What is the artist’s role within their community?

BR: The artists role in the community whether its music, art, writing etc. is to inspire and share. Artists bring relief to the world in the form of their art. Art can inspire others to do amazing things. Art is more powerful than most realize.

AC:  Your response is inspiring in itself.  Yes, it must be powerful to inspire other people to come together and create and recognize beauty in the world around them.  I admire how artists like you, or Gilda Oliver,  and other community animators bring diverse groups together with concrete projects that grow each individual’s creative skill set.  More of these kinds of projects would give our communities a welcome lift, I think.

AC: Do you employ specific themes and symbolism in your work?

BR:  The themes and symbolism I employ differ from collection to collection. But the majority of them all inspire positivity and self-empowerment.

AC: What is your favorite viewer response to your art?

BR:  Comments and Likes show me that people appreciate my passion, which is more than enough for me.  Every single viewer is important to me as each Like inspires me to continue sharing.

AC:  Do you have any grievances with the art world and how it operates?

BR: There are many artists such as myself that enjoy creating art, as it is their true gift. BUT, unfortunately too often than not we are forced to work jobs that strangle our passion. And in the end most artists disappear before the world really knew them simply because they had no one interested enough, or was not seen enough, to make their passion a career.

AC:  You make a sobering point, I think.  Many artists will never realize their gift because of the way that the art market operates.

Have you always wanted to be an artist?

BR:  I have ALWAYS wanted to be a artist. As soon as I discovered crayons I knew this is what I wanted my career to be. It allows me to express myself in a positive light and also share my views with the world. What better career could I ask for?

AC:  Thank you, Brittini Renee for sharing your ideas and art with us. <examples in progress in the top header>

For more information about the artist, please see:

www.brittinirenee.weebly.com

https://twitter.com/Brittini_Renee

https://www.instagram.com/artistbrittinirenee/

https://www.patreon.com/BrittiniRenee

AN INTERVIEW WITH ARTIST LORENA KLOOSTERBOER

In the following interview, Lorena Kloosterboer discusses her experience growing up in the Netherlands and in Argentina. Her unique experience leads her to  identify herself as a Dutch Latina. The artist also elaborates on her indefatigable creative ambition. She is a successful painter and writer of books as well as monthly articles with reputable publications like PoetsArtists.  Please join us for a discussion with an artist who has experienced broad support and shares a unique point of view.
Acrylic on Canvas - 12 x 12 inches (30 ½ x 30 ½ cm) – © Lorena Kloosterboer
“Self-portrait” © Lorena Kloosterboer

Welcome to artcopyblog.com.  Would you like to introduce yourself?  Who are you and what do you do?

LK:  My name is Lorena Kloosterboer.  I grew up in the Netherlands but spent time in Argentina every year visiting my maternal grandparents and family.  Both parental cultures imprinted me with complementary behaviors, as well as contrasting social models.  

Neither typically Dutch nor Argentine, I consider myself to be a Dutch Latina.  I’m an amalgamation of both cultures; a combination of the down-to-earth, open-minded rationality of the Dutch and the emotional, expressive flamboyance of the Argentines. In social situations I’m an extrovert, but I cannot keep that up for long—I crave solitude, quiet, and time to myself to be truly happy.

I’m an artist and a writer.

As an artist I paint contemporary realism, in which I seek to capture the fascinating interactions between colors, light, shadows, textures, and reflections, and unite them in visual poetry.  I love painting—for me it’s meditative, even though I’m quite organized and methodical in my approach. I plan and think ahead of each brush stroke so that each gesture purposely builds substance.  My aim is to portray my subject matter in such a way that it looks photographic from afar, yet shows my hand from up close.  It’s important to me that my work involves beauty. To date my art has participated in well over one hundred exhibitions in art galleries and museums in eleven countries.

As a writer I’ve authored a big fat reference book about acrylics, which has been published worldwide in American English (for the US and Canada) and a British English version (for the UK and Australia). A Dutch translation has also been published in both a soft and a hardcover edition (for the Netherlands and Belgium). I’m very proud of this book and the response continues to be very positive and sometimes quite overwhelming—in a good way.

I currently write a monthly art review for the independent art magazine PoetsArtists. As might be expected there’s a novel inside of me waiting to blossom, although time constraints constantly push it to the back of my to-do list. I love writing, especially in English—for me  it’s the best way to express myself clearly. As with painting, my writing is best done behind closed doors, in solitude, where I have time to think about the meaning and the resonance of words and the way to articulate my thoughts as elegantly and beautifully as I can.

AC:  Your achievement; writing books, monthly reviews, and painting in a spectacular style that requires concentrated attention to detail is impressive, indeed.

Why do you do what you do?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

Silent Rhapsody I - Acrylic on Wood Panel - 11 ¾ x 7 ¾ inches (30 x 20 cm) – © Lorena Kloosterboer
“Silent Rhapsody I,” Acrylic on Wood Panel – 11 ¾ x 7 ¾ inches (30 x 20 cm) – © Lorena Kloosterboer

LK:  Although I was a creative child it never occurred to me I could become a professional artist, so in high school my ambition was to become a fashion designer.  Through twists and turns of life, this career choice and associated studies met with a brick wall—a story too long and complex to tell here—so in my early twenties I attended classical art school in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Due to the sociopolitical climate at the time, I encountered quite a few unexpected stumbling blocks during my art schooling. Instead of letting them derail me, these obstacles fueled my determination to become the best in my class. Happily, I not only achieved top grades but also won two important awards, and incredibly, I sold my first pieces to American tourists visiting the ‘Paris of South America.’ Experiencing appreciation and satisfaction through art made me realize it would always play a central role in my life. My art has come to define me as a person.

I’m an explorer at heart, a bohemian, I like to move around. I’m curious. I like to investigate, think, understand. It’s very important to me to live a non-destructive life. Painting and writing essentially fill my soul’s needs; the contemplative solitude, the introspection, the creativity, the freedom of expression, the luxury of self-determination to keep my own hours and schedule my tasks according to my needs. The resulting external rewards—such as appreciation or sales—fill me with deep gratitude and joy.

AC:  How do you work? What does “being creative” mean to you?

"Silent Rhapsody II," Acrylic on Wood Panel - 7 ¾ x 11 ¾ inches (20 x 30 cm) – © Lorena Kloosterboer
“Silent Rhapsody II,” Acrylic on Wood Panel – 7 ¾ x 11 ¾ inches (20 x 30 cm) – © Lorena Kloosterboer

LK:  My work starts with thinking about which textures, color combinations, and thoughts (symbolic content) I want to work on next. Sometimes it revolves around one object that catches my eye, or it starts with a thought or emotion I want to express. I gather objects—either from my own collection, or borrowed from others—and set up compositions, which I then photograph in different lighting and arrangements. When a composition stands out—when it sings to me—I feel a tug at my heart. It feels like falling in love, it’s exciting!

This happens when I see pleasing characteristics such as subtle shadows, interesting color schemes, beautifully shaped lines, a clear expression of form and textures. This infatuation gives me momentum and drives me. Ideally I can hold on to that fascination during the entire process. Once in a while, when I’m lucky, the enchantment continues beyond the finished stage of a piece. Being creative, to me, feels like being in love. Creativity is seeking out that joyful feeling, that high, and holding on to it.

When there are technically difficult features in a composition that make me feel uneasy, then I know it’s the right painting-to-be. Let me explain. I get bored quite easily so I need to challenge myself, especially on a technical level. I eschew repetition, I need novelty to keep me interested. Each painting needs to give me a certain angst.

I don’t want to paint something I know I can do easily, I crave a touch of adventure, that thing that scares me because I may well fail. This is a double-edged sword. Some paintings fail because I mess up or can’t reach the required artistry. When I’m not satisfied and can’t fix it, it has to go (i.e., resolutely roll over it with gesso, start anew). On the upside, I learn a lot from my mistakes and when I do get it right I feel I’ve conquered a challenge. Stepping out of my comfort zone keeps me coming back for more.

The painting process feels very meditative and intimate, especially when I work on smaller pieces. I use brushes on about 90% of a painting but have taken up using the airbrush for subtle transitions and smooth gradations that are hard to accomplish using fast-drying acrylics and brush. My paintings are built up in many thin layers of mostly transparent glazes, with which I manipulate values and color through optical mixing—a process I call the ‘push and pull.’

AC: I’m was wondering if you have a favorite city for seeing art?

LK: First place comes New York, then London.

AC:  Do you feel that your art reflects your personality?

Tempus ad Requiem III - Acrylic on Canvas - 12 x 15 ¾ inches (30 x 40 cm) – © Lorena Kloosterboer
“Tempus ad Requiem III,” – Acrylic on Canvas – 12 x 15 ¾ inches (30 x 40 cm) – © Lorena Kloosterboer

LK:  Yes, absolutely—I think it always does, somehow.

My artwork reflects my need to make the world a better place—even though I realize that I may do this in a very small insignificant way, it is nonetheless my intention. I want to make others feel good by painting graceful subject matter with care that can grace someone’s habitat. I think my artwork also shows my need for being in control of at least one tiny part of life, as seen in the meticulous planning and lack of spontaneous brush strokes, as well as my need for rationality and harmony, as seen in the absence of unintelligible content.

Both my painting and writing are based on the traditions of realism, which to me is an essential component in order to express myself well and make my intentions clear to viewers and readers who need no explanation or translation to be able to understand my work.

AC: Do you feel that  your practice has changed over time?

LK: In my early days I started out painting figurative pieces, a combination of the human body, flora, and fauna.  Using mostly myself as a model, I created nudes surrounded by animals, flowers, and other natural phenomena. I wrote poetry to accompany my pieces.  And I also painted and sculpted portraits on commission.

As a sculptor I made a name for myself when my first public statue was unveiled in my hometown—subsequently several additional public sculpture commissions followed. I’ve always felt enormous satisfaction and pride knowing these bronzes are there to stay well beyond my time here and it’s comforting to know I can visit those fruits of a much-younger self anytime I like.

Profound changes occurred after moving to the US in 2000 when suddenly my art came to a screeching halt. I suffered painters block—a condition I didn’t believe existed until it struck me. It was devastating, I suffered terribly at losing the essence of my being. After trying numerous different self-help methods, I managed to break the block by changing medium (from oils to acrylics) and, after the dismaying realization that nudity was a big no-no in Southwest American culture, I also changed my subject matter (from figurative to still life).

Fast forward to today—I love painting still lifes in acrylics, but lately  have been yearning to dip into the figurative genre again. As a personal challenge I recently painted a self-portrait which gave me a lot of pleasure. If time allows, I may paint another self-portrait again next year.

AC:  That must have been very frustrating.  I know that I feel as if I’m going to blow a fuse when I have writer’s block.

What do you feel are some of the most inspiring things happening at present?

Tempus ad Requiem IX - Acrylic on Canvas - 23 ½ x 15 ¾ inches (60 x 40 cm) – © Lorena Kloosterboer
“Tempus ad Requiem IX,” – Acrylic on Canvas – 23 ½ x 15 ¾ inches (60 x 40 cm) – © Lorena Kloosterboer

LK: Having crossed the threshold of living half a century, I realize I’m probably at my personal best on an intellectual and emotional level—I’m more thoughtful, more stable, and more aware than ever before. While I regret the loss of physical splendor, I’ve never felt better about my life. I am loved and supported.  I take pride in my artistic, social, and intellectual skills. I say this in the sense of comparing my current self to yesteryear’s self—I see no point in comparing myself to others, we all walk different paths.

However, I’m a realist.  So I see time is starting to run out and, while I’m not afraid of death, I realize time is a-flying. I feel a certain urgency to work hard at what I do best, share my experience and knowledge, and enjoy all the wonderful things in my life to the max.  As a consequence, I’m much more focused—inspired if you will. I’m increasingly allowing less room for negative or disruptive influences in my life. I have no patience for obstinate ignorance, unjustified egotism, or competitive pettiness; by moving away from the negative I create more time and energy for the people and things that are edifying and genuine.

As for my art, I’m not looking for fame or prominence, but I do enjoy the respect and recognition I’m receiving, which in turn lead to interesting projects, commissions, exhibitions—and some amazing friendships!  I love that my artwork goes to homes where it is appreciated and I love that my writing is well received. I’m very grateful for these riches—they inspire me and propel me forward.

AC:  What is the artist’s role within their community?

LK:  Artists must determine what they themselves and their artwork can offer as a contribution to society. Somehow, I believe the intention of the artist can oftentimes be perceived in the work. Great art inspires us; it makes us think, it elicits an emotional response, it transports us to another place and time, it makes us feel we are part of something so much bigger than just ourselves. It’s inclusive; great art has no need for language, it transcends borders, nationality, and social boundaries. So our first and foremost goal should be to create great art.

Moreover, I do think artists as individuals and as a group need to embody and live by the standards of what we are collectively known for: artists are supposed to be the freethinkers, the nonconformists, the visual philosophers, the pacifists living next door. We should uphold and defend the norms and values of openness, conviviality, and understanding within our social circles, starting amongst ourselves within our artist community.

Artists know firsthand how rejection feels, so we should be the first to reach out or offer support to others, especially other artists. Artists need the art community to feel understood and to gain insight and valuable feedback, so it should be clear that arrogant rivalry, petty jealousy, and exclusion are harmful to the ideal of supporting the arts.

AC:  What art do you most identify with?

LK: Without doubt, Realism—in all its forms and expressions. Besides an emotional reaction to the subject portrayed, I need to see a level of exquisite craftsmanship and artistic thoughtfulness for it to move me.

AC: Which artist do you think is most undervalued?

LK:  Allan Gorman. I think his current work is spectacular.

AC:  What’s the last art object that you purchased?

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LK:  I bought a portrait of myself by the Dutch artist Caroline Westerhout. She painted me with loose strokes and unusual colors, and truly captured my essence. I also acquired a small whimsical self-portrait by British artist Tom Mulliner, in which he portrayed himself as Napoleon.

AC:  What work do you most enjoy?

LK:  I enjoy all stages of my work, but the most enjoyable moments are those in which I find myself being taken over by ‘flow’—that miraculous illuminating force that guides my hands, provides unlimited energy, and erases time and space… the results of which always far exceed expectation. Unfortunately, I have never quite been able to find the formula to summon ‘flow’ on command, but oh boy, when it happens I am at my happiest. It is beyond orgasmic.

AC:  What themes and symbolism do you employ?  What do you wish to communicate with your art?

Tempus ad Requiem X - Acrylic on Canvas - 11 ¾ x 9 ½ inches (30 x 24 cm) – © Lorena Kloosterboer
“Tempus ad Requiem X” – Acrylic on Canvas – 11 ¾ x 9 ½ inches (30 x 24 cm) – © Lorena Kloosterboer

LK: Although the viewer may not be aware of it, I express myself constructively by conveying positive philosophies through symbolic content. Serenity, purity, wisdom, awareness, and clarity are recurring themes. I’m convinced that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder—in other words, the viewer sees what he/she needs to see and since this is subjective and personal, often the viewer’s opinion reflects more about themselves than about the art. However vague and nonobtrusive my intentions, I believe they will somehow reach the consciousness of those open to receiving them.

AC:  What was the last show that you saw and how did you like it?

LK: The exhibition’50 Years of Photorealism’ in Musée d’Ixelles in Brussels. It was the second time I saw it; the first time I went to interview some of the artists in it, the second time I went to look at the work in detail accompanied by a friend. I love photorealism and this exhibition shows the evolution of the genre. It’s a treat to see these works up close, to study the techniques, and compare the older with the younger generation of photorealists. Most big name photorealism sells to collectors before it shows in public, so seeing this many pieces—many from private collections—together in one place is wonderful!

AC: Do you have any grievances with the art world and how it operates?

LK:  My biggest pet peeve in the art world relates to the so-called purists, who, regardless of their genre, try to dictate their individual preferences on technique or style, as if it’s the only legitimate way of expression. It’s one thing to state your personal proclivities, quite another to express them as universal rules. This arrogance should have no place in the art world. It bothers me that this influences starting artists whose creative paths and development may be severely constrained and limited by listening to these patronizing figureheads.

Art is about doing your own thing, dancing to your own tune, being restricted only by the limits of your own capacity and the mediums you work with. Since I started painting at age 16 I’ve heard a gazillion perplexing rules, such as, ‘never use pure black or pure white,’ ‘don’t paint from a photograph,’ ‘don’t use a projector, ‘ ‘only paint from life,’ ‘only use broad brushes,’ ‘always stand at arm’s length of a canvas’ … etcetera, ad nauseum.

Being a stubborn contrarian, each time I spot a new art rule the first thing I do is break it! Although some artists will disagree with me, I believe that in the end the result is more important than the process. While the process is essential and highly enlightening on a personal level, the result one begets is public—how one gets there should be dictated by personal limitations only.

AC: What is your favorite viewer response to your art?

LK: All positive responses are highly appreciated! Regularly I receive emails from complete strangers describing how seeing my artwork has impacted them, which is truly heartwarming. It reinforces my belief that my art truly does have a positive effect. Of course it makes me really-really happy when someone buys my work. The exchange of money for my art, besides being useful to me, is also a way of the collector saying, ‘Your art is precious to me, I can’t live without it.’

AC:  Could you tell me about your most memorable response to a work of art?

Untainted Solitude - Acrylic on Aluminum Composite Panel - 11 ¾ x 8 ¼ inches (30 x 21 cm) – © Lorena Kloosterboer
“Untainted Solitude,” – Acrylic on Aluminum Composite Panel – 11 ¾ x 8 ¼ inches (30 x 21 cm) – © Lorena Kloosterboer

LK: Many come to mind, but I received the most unusual compliment around a decade ago. During my first solo exhibition in the early 1990s, a young man fell in love with a painting—a large symbolic self-portrait of me chained to a huge praying mantis—but couldn’t afford it at the time. It was one of the few pieces in that exhibition that didn’t sell. I moved several times, but kept the painting in storage, rather forgotten. He got in touch with me two decades later to inquire about it and bought it for its original price. Realizing that someone fell in love with my work and continued thinking about it for so many years, is to me, an amazing compliment!

AC: What do you dislike about your art?

LK: Hmmm… well, my work takes a lot of time. I wish I could execute it faster, be more productive—be a faster painter. I’ve tried cutting corners, loosening up, simplifying it, but somehow my work always ends up being intricate and tight. Not being able to let go of a painting until I’m completely satisfied with it means that it eats up time. I suppose it is what it is—my art governs me, not the other way around.

And another thing I dislike—maybe it’s not linked to the art itself, it’s more about me—is that I’m not very fluent in speaking about my own art to others. I can talk about almost any topic to virtually anybody. But when it comes to art speak I often just withdraw. I’m envious of artists who just babble on and on about their work, making sure the focus of the conversation is kept right where they want it. I’m better at writing about my work, but I can’t very well hand out little explicatory text cards to people at a cocktail party, can I?

AC:  What do you think that future generations will recall about the art world today?

LK:  I have no idea, but I fervently hope they will see this decade as a historic period in which renewed appreciation for contemporary realism and true craftsmanship regained its footing and reclaimed global respect in an art world gone completely bonkers over modernism and the crazy art market bubble.

AC:  Do you collect anything?

LK: Oh yes! Lots of things… I collect ceramics, especially Delft Blue, Asian, and 1930s pieces. I collect glass, both decorative as well as utilitarian (e.g., champagne flutes). I collect pill boxes from around the world, little decorative animal figurines, miniature perfume bottles, silver objects, books, loads of books… I’m a human oil spill—every horizontal surface at home is soon covered with something.

AC: Where do you find ideas for your work?

Vitrum Umbrae - Acrylic on Canvas - 23 ½ x 15 ¾ inches (60 x 40 cm) - © Lorena Kloosterboer
“Vitrum Umbrae,” – Acrylic on Canvas – 23 ½ x 15 ¾ inches (60 x 40 cm) – © Lorena Kloosterboer

LK: Everywhere! At home, in restaurants, during travels, antique stores, museums (especially of Decorative Arts), in books and films, online in image galleries… I keep several folders of images on my computer; for example, one contains inspirational ideas with annotations, another has a vast library of compositions I photographed but haven’t painted yet, and another contains interesting color schemes and textures. When I look through them, they often lead to new visual ideas that I can then develop and elaborate on.

AC:  Do you have any creative habits or rituals?

LK: Yes. I take time to think about the physical step-by-step actions before I start painting each day. I picture them in my mind, like a movie, before I begin and often talk myself through them. Compulsive list-making is a good way to organize myself when juggling multiple projects at once, I love ticking off items on those lists. I also have a wall full of colorful notes in my studio with good advice to myself. One I look at every single day says, “Keep it simple.”

This is a concept that shakes me, in that it stops me from going overboard with overwhelming out-of-control details. When I break this rule it’s done consciously and with purpose. I tell myself this keeps my work balanced between two extremes (i.e., too simplistic versus too elaborate).

AC:  Thank you, Lorena!

AN INTERVIEW WITH ARTIST BROOKE McGOWEN

In the following interview, Brooke McGowen shares her carefully considered ideas about herself as an artist and the purpose that her art serves in society today.  She also brings a unique spirit of affirmation to this conversation about the contemporary artist. Please join us in our discussion with an individual who leads with her heart.

Art Copy:  Welcome Brooke McGowen.  It’s great to talk to you again.  Would you like to introduce yourself further?  Why do you do what you do?

Brooke McGowen:  I paint to survive. It is necessary. Working with the material paint is existential. The irresistible possibility of beauty, the pure sensual joy of color.  I am a painting addict.  Art comes from a place of passion. The artist shares their deepest feelings.  Maybe that is the meaning of art, a message from the heart. 

It is not about money.  Maybe that’s why we look to art to be a revolutionary voice in these times when people are being silenced.  I feel so bad about what capitalism is doing to the planet.  Art is especially relevant now where our values have been sold out to commercial interests.  It can point the way towards human values.

Art Copy:  It must be gratifying to have discovered an avenue for interacting in a meaningful way with the world around you while simultaneously nourishing your heart’s desire.

I was wondering if you identify with any particular art styles?

Brooke McGowen:  Street art because it is an attempt to break down the barriers of the art world (art market) and carry the artist’s message directly to the people.  If you see street art, you know that artist risked his freedom to bring you his message.  Far from expecting remuneration, he can reckon with a jail sentence if caught.  This message is so pressing that the artist is willing to forgo sleep and foil police to deliver it.

Art Copy:  That level of commitment is commendable.  Some art lovers appreciate the art-object solely for its enjoyment value, I sense.  While there isn’t anything wrong with art appreciation, I’m discouraged when art is assessed solely for its entertainment value.  But, I digress.

Do you employ specific themes and symbolism in your art?

"Portrait," by Brooke McGowen. This photograph is courtesy of Brooke McGowen
“Portrait,” by Brooke McGowen. This photograph is courtesy of Brooke McGowen

Brooke McGowen:  Sexuality is an important theme for me, as an artist and also in my life.  Sexuality is also a political theme since the repression of sexuality is an instrument of power.  This is seen in the Republican attempt to control women’s bodies, a type of modern witch hunt. Sexuality has always been a theme of art, often cloaked in religious or mythological images.  Think of Danae and the golden rain, or Venus in myriad representations or Suzanne Bathing,

Much art in the past has been devoted to the beauty of the female figure.  Figurative themes have the power to suggest a situation that the viewer can identify with. The figure is the symbol for the individual, in the picture which is the world.

Art Copy:  Your response reminds me of Eunice Lipton’s research on Manet’s Olympia, and his portrayal of a real woman owning and returning her gaze to the artist and the viewer almost in challenge.   I find it disheartening that 150 years after contemporary culture demeaned the painting and the seeming impropriety of an independent woman, that there still is so much gender disparity in our world today.  It’s more than a disgrace that women continue to be objectified and dehumanized in ways that are hard to see and measure.

Where do you find ideas for your work?

Brooke McGowen: Living in the present is a source of inspiration that feeds you with ideas both literally and subconsciously. If you were a mathematician, this feed would come in the form of numbers. If you are a visual artist, it comes in images.  These images are composites of everything we experience.

My themes are universal, personal and political.  I make no difference between personal and political since society is a reflection of the people who live in it. The artist is the third reflection, reflecting inherent values of an ideal society. The artist holds the mirror to society, comparing the real to the ideal.  Society could be ideal if it was based on sustainable community and protecting the planet, instead of corporate greed.  One horrible example is the mountain of garbage created in New York City every day.  This is totally unnecessary.  France just banned plastic tableware.

Art Copy:  What does being creative mean to you?

"Don't Stop Me Now," by Brooke McGowen. This photograph is courtesy of Brooke McGowen.
“Don’t Stop Me Now,” by Brooke McGowen. This photograph is courtesy of Brooke McGowen.

Brooke McGowen:  Opening the floodgate to the subconscious where like in a dream state random images appear and you paint them without knowing what it means.  The next day you see it in the cold morning light and realize what it is.  But that is also only a subjective interpretation.  Everyone will see the painting in their own light.

Art Copy:  Would you please tell our audience a little bit about your process?

"Rembrandt," by Brooke McGowen. This photograph is courtesy of Brooke McGowen.
“Rembrandt,” by Brooke McGowen. This photograph is courtesy of Brooke McGowen.

Brooke McGowen:  I squirt the liquid paint directly out of the bottle onto the canvas.  This causes the paint to swirl in uncontrollable motion.  I try to coax the flowing paint by gently tilting the canvas.  The figure so suggested will define itself through the random interaction of the various colors.

Often I will see strange images appear and disappear as the paint meanders towards its resting point.  It is impossible to stop the flowing motion of the paint and capture the desired state.  I am always surprised at the outcome.  If the semblance was destroyed, I will continue it the next day with fresh courage.

Art Copy:  How has your practice changed?

Brooke McGowen:  I used to paint with a paintbrush, but there is only so much you can do with a paintbrush.  All these brushstrokes have been seen before.  If you want to use a brush, you must top Van Gogh. That will be difficult.  Or DeKooning, what a genius.  To take painting to the next level we will need to discard old methods and concepts. There are many things that must go out the window, the outline, object color, perspective, to name a few.

The paintbrush is only one of the things that must go.  Everything that impedes the rhythm and flows of color elements in an abstract composition is going to get in our way.  Since we are applying the criteria of abstraction to figurative scenes, the figure is subjected to the rhythmic flow of color elements.

Each element defines the figure while simultaneously creating an abstract flow of color.  Each color element is a rhythmical element in a color movement but also a space element and defines a level of space that corresponds to the relative space requirements of the figurative situation.  This is Cezanne’s color relief space unleashed.

Art Copy:  What was your most memorable response to a work of art?

Brooke McGowen:  I cried in front of a Cezanne because his color patches were so lovingly placed with such delicate intensity.  Did you ever read Proust’s description of a famous composer dying in front of a painting by a great painter because of the way the little yellow corner of a wall was painted?  Well, he may have intended this passage to be ironic but I could certainly identify.

Art Copy:  I don’t remember reading it.  I’m sure that I’m sure that I would have remembered that.

I was also wondering what you wish to communicate with your art?

"Evil Kneevil," by Brook McGowen. This photograph is courtesy of Brooke McGowen.
“Evil Kneevil,” by Brook McGowen. This photograph is courtesy of Brooke McGowen.

Brooke McGowen:  I want to communicate a feeling of freedom, freedom that creates form.  The form is determined by the inherent qualities of the material that are revealed when you respect the laws of nature.  This is not the destructive ‘freedom’ of capitalism, where corporations are free to pollute and destroy nature.  This has nothing to do with freedom but only short-sighted greed and stupidity.  I mean the freedom and beauty of nature when it has the right conditions to create and sustain life.  That is our next step as humans, to respect and revere nature for its creativity to which we owe our existence on this planet.

Art Copy:  Since I’ve been examining the contemporary artist, I find that some artists are overtly political while others follow in a tradition that actively avoids references to politics.    It’s almost as if these artists don’t want to drag their art through the stench of politics.

Others like yourself seem to embrace the idea of the artist as an active agent within the world community. Mati Russo, another artist who I’ve been lucky enough to work with, discovered after 9/11 that she was compelled to make art that spoke to the reality of the world around her rather than appealing to the senses alone.  In each instance, there is a real commitment to making the world whole in your art.

Do you feel that your art reflects your personality?

Brooke McGowen:  No, not really.  I try to forget myself when I paint and let the paint unfold its natural properties.  My personality is more OCD, a control freak.  Maybe this is the best form of therapy.  I need to let go.  If lucky, the paint can escape me.

Art Copy:  What do you feel are some of the most momentous things happening within the art world at present?

Brooke McGowen:  Seeing this clown circus of an election reminds me not to take anything too seriously.  I hope everyone in this country and around the world is seeing what a farce this bought-out democracy has become.  It is government by the rich and for the rich at this point and the people have been deprived of their voice by corporate lobbying and unlimited campaign donations.  This election is a mockery of sanity.

Art Copy:  Do you have any grievances with the art world and how it operates?

"MrMosanto," by Brooke McGowen. This photograph is courtesy of Brooke McGowen.
“Mr. Mosanto,” by Brooke McGowen. This photograph is courtesy of Brooke McGowen.

Brooke McGowen:  The art market is a caricature of capitalism.  Value is created out of nothing like on Wall Street.  It is all about speculation, creating bubbles of hyped up value.  It has nothing to do with the real value of art. The real value of art is to touch people’s hearts, not how shiny or expensive it is.

Art Copy:  The burst in the present art market points to the real uncertainty and disruption that these practices lead to for many.

Thank you, Brooke!