This month we had the pleasure to interview Chris Brandell about her painting inspirations. Thank you, Chris, for sharing your ideas with us!
Daylighted: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up and where do you live now? Did you always know that you wanted to be an artist?
Chris Brandell: I was born and raised in New Rochelle, New York. In the 70s my family moved to northern Virginia (McLean), And now I reside in Vienna, Virginia which is just a couple of miles away.
I always had an obsession with color and paint. Color vibrates in my head — I can hear it and feel it — and sometimes I see a color and it stays with me consuming my mental energy until I lay it down onto a substrate. I realized when I was younger that this was not something that everybody experienced, but I didn't really believe that being an artist was viable option for me and I didn't realize I could manafest art as an output of my mental experience with color . So I focused on my business career which I definitely don't regret, but I know now that I was always supposed to be an artist. Being an artist is who I am. Pure color is a tangible experience for me just like my other senses.
Daylighted: How would you describe your painting techniques?
Chris Brandell: My basic, most natural technique is more spontaneous than planned and typically involves a lot of movement. I use large knives and trowels and only occasionally use brushes. I allow the paint and the color it's self to lead me without a plan as to how or when the painting should be completed. I am constantly trying to learn new techniques so that I can advance my artistic style and not become static. I love large-format work and wish that my studio was large enough that I could constantly paint 60 x 60" canvasses (or larger).
Daylighted: Your work is distinctive in its use of color. Can you talk about your palette and how you select your colors?
Chris Brandell: Color itself is my passion and so my palette is usually unlimited. This can be a bit overwhelming and the frenetic sometimes and I've been criticized for not limiting my palette more. My problem is that I’m interested in and distracted by the hues and values themselves and how they contrast and or blend with each other when I'm working with them. And, since, the color is the ultimate driver behind my painting, I could just as easily paint 10 paintings with the same three colors as I could paint 10 paintings that don't share a single color. I derive tangible pleasure from just laying down the color and seeing where it will lead me. I'm currently in the process of trying to focus in on a specific pallet that includes traditional landscape colors with a couple of my other modern color favorites. I'm interested in trying to see what the results will be of purposefully limiting my pallet over a period of time (it's a discipline I have not previously mastered, and we'll see how it turns out). By the way, in addition to black and white, my favorite colors include Phthalo Turquoise, Cobalt Green and Prussian Blue.
Daylighted: What inspires your work?
Chris Brandell: My work is inspired by all types of things that I see. It can be something complex like a beautiful sunset or something simple like the colors of a bouquet of flowers. Often I am inspired by the artwork of other artists. I will see a color that another artist is using in a particular way that I am attracted to and that color will inspire me to to paint and interpret it in my own way.
Daylighted: Tell us about the story behind your favorite piece.
Chris Brandell: This is a bit difficult to answer because my favorite piece is constantly changing. As my composition and painting matures I tend to latch on to a new favorite. Right now I'm very captivated by a piece that I painted on French cold pressed paper. It was inspired by another artist's mixed media collage that I saw which was very modern but framed in a traditional way and used in a very traditional room. I loved the texture of the mixed media collage. No 505 was the result of that inspiration and I really love this piece. I achieved the same feeling that I took away from the other artists work without having it be similar really in any other way.
Daylighted: How do you hope your art engages your audience? Are there any reflections or opinions you’ve heard about your artwork that surprises you?
Chris Brandell: I find that abstract work affects people into two primary different ways: 1) it's like a Rorschach test and people see something in the abstract itself; or, 2) people don't know why it moves them and they don't see something in it but there is something about it that stops them and causes them to experience it. This is the way I experience abstract art myself. What I hope is that people are engaged when they look at my art… What ever way it engages them is satisfying to me because it has served a purpose for that individual. Whether it's seeing something and taking away a memory or whether it is just a few moments of peace you stop to gaze upon something that catches your eyes. What ever the experience, If my art engages the audience then I had done my job as an artist.
I think the thing that always surprises me is what people like and react to. I sometimes have to laugh because some of the pieces that I think are the worst and up being peoples favorites.
Daylighted: What, in your opinion, is the most difficult part of the creative process?
Chris Brandell: I love the creative process overall and literally could paint 24 x 7 if I didn't have to sleep .Perhaps the most difficult part of the process for me is focusing in and not getting distracted by all the paintings that are in my brain that I want to complete. I could paint for years and never complete all of the color inspirations I have in my head. Getting control of these distractions is difficult. I know I really should paint each and every day to exercise that part of my brain gets filled up with the inspiration. I'm hoping to find a curator to work with who can drive me in a direction, keep me focused and help me achieve results from that focus. That is one of my goals for the coming 12 months.