Friday, April 3, 2015

Artist on Artist Interview with Diane Brown

Today it gives me pleasure to feature expressionist artist, Diane Brown, for this month's Artist on Artist interview.

Sometime ago, Brown's work caught my eye on Facebook for its organic and abstract expressionist qualities. Her work and approach is in every way organic and natural, in that she creates works that are water based and that are reminiscent to the raw nature of the Earth and its elements. At times her work can look soft like fabric and then hard like stone. Her work has a great range of perspective in that it can seem like it's a view from the high up overviews of the Earth, to the intimate tranquil motion of a fresh water stream, to the excitement of lapping waves at the shore, and to the deep cool dark caverns of the Earth. Her colourful work has a fluid movement that is both pleasing and exciting to the eye and spirit. Brown's work has been garnering recognition in the Southeastern Connecticut region and soon to be much farther reaching. 

And now without any further adieu here is Diane Brown's full interview along with selected works.

Please enjoy and feel free to leave a comment below.


Artist on Artist Interview with Diane Brown.

The Artist.

Polly - Hello Diane! Thank you for being part of the AoA Interview project, it is a pleasure to have you here and talk about your art with us today! Ok, let's get started .... firstly, how are you doing today and could you give us a little introduction about yourself, where you're from, living now, etc?

Diane - Let's see now. Having just returned from vacation in Cancun, I think I'm doing pretty well today. I have some color and that always makes me feel more alive. Some information about me. I'm grew up in Hicksville, New York but have lived in NJ, CT, RI and Me. As a little girl, I always wanted to paint trees. I did then and do now find trees to be astoundingly beautiful. While in Jr. High my dad bought me some art supplies and away I went. He hung my work in our finished basement with pride. In New England for over 40 years now, I really began my painting experiences while living in Ellsworth, Maine at the age of forty something. I was given a William Alexander beginners paint kit for Christmas and that was how I began. I painted on a rickety old hand holding the tripod and a brush in the other hand. I started showing my things in outdoor shows in Bangor and Bar Harbor. I moved back to the Westerly area from Maine but was too busy making ends meet to paint. I didn't paint for over 10 years. I began again by taking lessons with Robert Kozora and he shared his knowledge with me. At this point in time I was an oil painter producing still life and ultimately my love of seascapes,sea grasses and dunes came to be. I stopped my lessons because I wanted to try to get my work into art shows and painting under someone's instruction wasn't permitted. I was impatient because I had do much more to learn. I've been a juried member of The Artists' Cooperative Gallery of Westerly for almost 12 years and am an Elected Artist at The Mystic Art Center. (Acceptance into MAC was as an oil painter/photographer.) I'm also a new member of The Wickford Art Association. I enjoy my life in Pawcatuck, CT with my husband Bill and our two dogs. We enjoy traveling and the company of our two granddaughters, Chloe and Sasha often. I also enjoy kayaking, dancing, gardening, playing cards and trying to keep fit. that last part isn't working as well as I had hoped.  

'In Motion Series' 
30" x 40". Inks and Acrylics on Artist Board. 2013-14. 

Polly - Could you describe for us, your earliest memories of when you realised you were an artist and how you discovered your affinity for painting?

Diane - One morning after spending a great deal of time on my last oil painting, I decided I needed to try something new. I wasn't certain just what that was going to be, but I knew I wanted a "new found freedom" to use bold colors. A friend suggested I purchase a book by Maxine Masterfield entitled: In Harmony with Nature...Painting Techniques for a New Age. Well, let me tell you I was so excited with her work, I ran out and purchased everything I could possibly find and then stood in my studio trying to figure out what to do with all this stuff. I just began pouring inks and acrylics on watercolor paper and yupo paper. Paint and inks moved in all directions and created their own wonderful designs. I didn't want to make anything identifiable I wanted to show movement. I believe that's what my work is all about at this point. People love to find things in more abstract work. I'm not certain why they must do that, but it's amazing how many different things they see. I'm having great fun right now...more fun then I've had in years. I have so much more to learn and will be trying to figure out where to take lessons to bring me to my next step. I feel like a child in a candy shop at this point in time. I couldn't have more fun than I'm having right now.  

 'In Motion Series'
18" x 24". Ink, Acrylic, and Gel Pen. 2013-14.

Polly - Your work certainly has movement in it; I'm curious how do you motivate yourself in creating your work?, Do you work with how you're feeling at the moment?

Diane - I don't go in search of ideas, I let them find me.

'In Motion Series'
Acrylics and Gel Pen. 2013-14.

'In Motion Series
Grays, Blacks and Bronzes. 24" x 36". Poured Inks.  

Polly Can you tell us about your influences and inspirations; perhaps some of your favorite artists and why? 

Diane - I'm inspired by today's fashion and designs that encompass crazy prints with great mixes of colors. 

Artist, Gray Jacobik's incredible en-caustic work starts my juices flowing. Her process allows more control over the flow of colors which really interests me. Actually makes me want to run out and get all the goodies needed for the en-caustic process. Pollack also fascinates me as he does the masses. It's all about movement for me.

'In Motion Series'
Acrylics and Gel Pen on Artist Board. 2013-14.

Polly - That's so interesting, your work does resemble the fluidity of fabric. Can you tell us a little bit about your process and what your studio space is like? 

Diane - I have a wonderful studio, very comfortable thanks to my gas heater and/or air conditioner. It also has a sitting area for guests to view my work. I have two great tables that I work on. I put my yupo paper flat on my tables and spray the paper with water. I wipe it down with paper towels once the paper is saturated. Having chosen the colors I'm going to us, I fill pipettes with my inks or acrylics and go to work making them run into one another with the aide of more water. It's fun watching colors collide and designs appear. It's a simple process with a large impact on the paper. I also use salt, sand, wax paper, among other reliefs within my work.

Work table station in Brown's studio space. 

Sectional view of Brown's studio space. 

Polly - While you're working your magic on the paper, I'm curious do you listen to music while you create, and if so what tunes might we expect to hear? 

Diane - While working I listen to Kenny G, Kim Wilson, Etta James...I'm a blues girl. I might even break from my work to dance with a chair. 

'In Motion Series'
Poured Inks on Yupo Paper. 2013-14.

Polly - I can just see you breaking out into some dance moves in your studio! If you could apprentice with any artist dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Diane - Prior to working with inks and acrylics, I read two books by Maxine Masterfield. She's a remarkable artist who creates pieces of art that just blow my mind. She's the person I was trying to emulate, but my work never looked anything like hers. So, if I ever had an opportunity to apprentice with someone in my lifetime, it would be Maxine Masterfield.

'Full Gallop'

18" x 24". Poured Inks and Acrylics. 

Polly -Tell us what your thoughts are on being an artist and what has been the most challenging thing?

Diane - I have so many thoughts on being an "artist". I've had time to look around me at all the accomplished artists I have come to know and to wonder where I fit in. As someone once said to me ... art is something different to every person. "If they like what you do ... be thankful and continue on." I've had fun pursuing my dreams of being an artist and I look forward to the next stage of my work. 

'Coming Undone'

Polly - Who has been your greatest support?

Diane - Thanks to my Dad's encouragement when I was a very young woman and to my husband I have so enjoyed pursuing my dreams of being an artist.  

'In Motion Series' 
24" x 36".  Poured Inks. 2013-14.  

Polly - Do you have any interesting projects, or shows you're currently working on in your studio? 

Diane - Well Polly, I've actually had an exciting two weeks. A design studio saw some of my work in West Hartford and contacted me about turning my work into printed fabrics. Fabrics for use in ski pants, skateboard clothing, exercise clothing etc. I visited with them last Friday and they purchased three of my works of art. I have a contract to review and sign and away we'll go with this new project. Very exciting. I'm also working on one piece for the Mystic Art Center's Elected Artist show in April. I'm also chairing a Regional Art Show at The Artists' Cooperative Gallery of Westerly slated to open on May 1st. I've been working on this since last August and look forward to a happy ending.

'Green Goddess'
12" x 14". Poured Inks. 

Polly - That's very exciting news indeed, congratulations! And speaking of accomplishments - what has been a defining moment for you as an artist and what would you like to accomplish with your art on a personal level?  

Diane - Although I still have questions about where I stand with my art, my most defining moment was when I won an award in a National Show at the Slater Museum in Norwich. This happened just last year and it was the biggest surprise I can ever remember. I got a call asking me to be present for the awards, but they didn't say what I'd won. I honestly thought an Honorable Mention...which would have been great by me. When I opened the program and saw that I'd taken 2nd place, I let out a loud "YIPEEE" and my husband came running. We were both so excited. The juror said, "she liked my bold approach to art". I don't think I could wish for much more at this point in time. I'm content to have won two "People's Choice Awards" over the years, to have become an Elected Artist after years of trying and to receive a 2nd place in a National Show. These moments might not be on a large scale to some, but they have made me very happy to be who I am, right here, right now. 

Sectional view of Brown's studio space.

Sectional view of Brown's studio space.

Polly - If you could try your hand at another medium, or genre (say perhaps classic sculpture or music, etc), what would it be and why? 

Diane - It would have been dance. In my bones, I believe that I was born to dance but never had the financial backing as a child to be trained. My Dad, a/k/a "Twinkle Toes" was a wonderful dancer who waltzed me around the dance floor at any wedding or party we attended. I could never get enough of joy dancing brought to me. As I grew up we danced our hearts out to Billy Joel who practiced in my church basement before he "made it big". We danced anywhere we could find the music. After moving to CT, I learned Zydeco and Cajun dances and had the time of my life making many friends along the way. Though today, I would love to play piano or violin or ... I guess I could go on and on.

'Frayed Edges'
18" x 24". Poured Inks.

'Carolyn's Garden'
18" x 24". Poured Acrylics.

Polly - Would you mind sharing something about yourself that most people don't know about you?

Diane - Most people are unaware that I raced canoes. I wanted to honor my 50th birthday (many years ago) in a special way and this idea came to mind. My partner and I began by paddling 4 mile races, then proceeded to 10 miles then onto the Charles River for a 19 mile race where we took 3rd place. I just kept building up to my last race which was a 70 mile endurance race down the Susquehanna River starting in Cooperstown, NY. There were 5 portages and I can tell you by the last one I was wondering if we'd ever make it back into the water. My goal was to do the race, not to place. It took 11:30 hours of padding to reach the end, but we did it.  

'Beneath the Surface'
18" x 24". Poured Inks.

Polly - Well, thank you so much Diane for this wonderful interview ... as we close out do you have any final thoughts you'd like to say about you and or your art, anymore wisdom you may have to offer to young, and aspiring artists?

Diane - I have a new found freedom with my newest work. My excitement carries me from the beginning to the end of my painting. I think the younger artists today have great confidence in what they create and the process they use. Perpetuate the joy and never lose sight of your value as an artist. 

I believe that's it. Thank you for all the time your have put into this conversation along with your commitment to me as an artist. I look forward to seeing the finished product. Again, thank you Polly for all your kindness. I look forward to our first meeting. Diane.


Polly - And thank you Diane for this wonderful interview, it was such a pleasure working with you and getting to know more about you and your beautiful work! I wish you nothing but, the very best with your work and artistic career, may you have many hours of happy painting and more joyful moments celebrating your art!

Cheers, ~ Polly ~

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