Monday, March 14, 2011

Featured Artist: Barbara Brady


Would you please tell us a little bit about yourself?

Featured artist Barbara Brady.

Hello, my name is Barbara Brady. I was born and raised in Abington, a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I have lived in Los Angeles, California and for the last ten years have called Downeast Maine my home.

I received a B.F.A. in Painting from Rosemont College in Rosemont, PA in 1980, and studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from 1980 to 1982. I also studied with Patricia Traub and Daniel Miller, faculties of PAFA in Ireland in 1999.

When and how did you get interested in art making?

Barbara Brady, Rock Island, 30x30 inches, oil on canvas, 2010

Barbara Brady, October Sky, 30x30 inches, oil on canvas, 2009

As a child, I spent hours drawing and painting. My parents recognized that making art was something I truly enjoyed and they have always been very supportive. I remember my junior year in high school -- unlike any teenage I wanted a stereo for Christmas, but instead, my Father bought me some canvas and a Windsor Newton paint box, filled with oils and brushes. I remember being disappointed at first for not "landing" the stereo, but later, I realized that my Father's wisdom set me on my life path.

Currently, what type of job(s) you do besides making art? Do you teach, write and/or curate art exhibits?

Barbara Brady, Currents, 36x48 inches, oil on canvas, 2010

Currently, I have a freelance graphic design business. I work in the studio from early morning until mid day, and in the afternoon I take care of the graphic design business. This system has worked well over the last five years. Prior to this, I worked in the corporate world as an Art Director and Project Coordinator for Publishing firms, Healthcare Systems, and a Pharmaceutical Company for twenty years. I still painted, but did not actively exhibit my work.

Barbara Brady, Argentina, 52x72 inches, oil on canvas, 2011

But, in 2005, I had an epiphany, while on my way to a business meeting at a local Retirement Village, I passed the residents art room -- where the smell of linseed oil and turpentine caught my attention and my thoughts. This was a pivotal moment, I knew I had to put my art first and leave the lure of a steady paycheck behind. Although not easy, I took that leap of faith and have had no regrets. From that very moment, my work and life changed. I now had time to investigate, explore and experiment. I could paint everyday. I read every book on every artist I could find. Little gems of wisdom stood out from the pages as if speaking directly to me. I began to think and see differently, I was no longer interested in painting from direct observation. I now was painting from memory, working on six foot canvases and using sweeping gestures of paint. It was a major breakthrough.

Please tell us a bit about your work in general. What media do you work in? What are the inspirations behind the creation of your work, and what is the specific message you would like to convey to your viewers?

Barbara Brady, Alyce in No-Wonderland, 48x52 inches,
oil, paper and fiber on canvas, 2008.

I’m a oil painter. I work on canvas, paper and wood panels. My work has become more complex materially incorporating cardboard, plastic and other materials. I’m much more interested in the paintings surface through the manipulation of paint -- layering, building up and taking away. I find this way of working to be exciting, sometimes revealing, and always different. Living along the coast of Maine, the landscape is an integral part of my work.

Barbara Brady, Trio, 30x30 inches, oil on canvas, 2009

I wouldn't say that I have a specific message to convey in my work (typically) other than wanting people to view the work up close, it’s when your nose is just a few inches away from the canvas you can see the true character of the piece - every scratch, scrape and brush stroke. It's like getting to know someone, you need to spend some time with them to really appreciate who they are.

Barbara Brady, When Your House is Made of Chocolate, Everyone Is Sweet On You,
50x60 inches, oil, painted paper on canvas, 2009

Occasionally there has been a message or theme in my work. In 2008, a series of paintings came into being after listening to NPR (National Public Radio) while working in the studio. I hadn't realized how much the world’s events were impacting me and my work. People began showing up in the paintings. At first I tried to eliminate them, but they kept reoccurring, so I relented and waited to see where this would lead. It lead to a series of eight paintings entitled "It Takes All Kinds: The Question of Identity." These paintings were in response to reports about the crisis in Darfur to the Bear Sterns meltdown, the plight of women in third world countries, the war in Iraq, intolerance and injustice (all can be found on my website). This was so radical for me as a painter, I never had any interest in having my work be political and I'm still not.

Barbara Brady, Ties That Bind, 30x30 inches, oil on canvas, 2010

Last year, I had a similar experience having to do with climate change. I found myself in conversations with people who believe that climate change is nothing more than a hoax. This had me wondering why is it clear to some and not to others? Working through these issues via paint is my way of processing what is going on and possibly creating an opportunity for dialogue.

Barbara Brady, Harding Point III, 11x14 inches, oil on Rives BFK, 2010

Barbara Brady, Harding Point, 11x14 inches, oil on Rives BFK, 2010

Barbara Brady, Pond Point, 11x14 inches, oil on Rives BFK, 2010

Last Fall, I was awarded a Fellowship at the Heliker-LaHotan Foundation on Great Cranberry Island, Maine. Living and working on an island is an unique experience. This is such a special place in which to produce a body of work. I completed over 65 paintings on paper in those two weeks. Being away from the cares of everyday life and given the time to paint all day, everyday, was magical. Artist residencies are very important to your creative process.

Would you like to you discuss a bit your creative process with our readers?

Barbara Brady, Quay, 36x60 inches, oil on canvas, 2009

I find my process of art-making is much like the process of life. The intention is direct but the experience is very emotional and intuitive. I work by intuition and expression, taking glimpses of moments and distilling them into brushstrokes and color.

Are you currently showing your work? Are you planning any exhibitions of your work in the near future? Representing gallery if any?

Barbara Brady, Transitory Blue, 48x60 inches, oil on canvas, 2009

Currently, I am represented by Yvette Torres Fine Art in Rockland, Maine; Isalos Fine Art, Stonington, Maine; Patricia Ladd Carega Gallery in Center Sandwich, New Hampshire.

I'm very excited to be exhibiting at the Park Schreck Gallery in Chicago, IL this April. Exhibition dates are from April 29 through May 30, 2011. The official grand opening of Park Schreck Gallery has been scheduled for Friday, April 29, 2011. Please join us.

I will be showing my paintings at Isalos Fine Art in Stonington, Maine from June through October, 2011.

Would you like to share your contact info with our readers? Do you have website(s) for interested readers to learn more about your work?

Barbara Brady, Good 2 Shoes, 30x30 inches, oil, cardboard on canvas, 2010

Sure, please visit my website at, or email me at Also, be sure to visit the gallery websites I mentioned above as well. Thank you for this opportunity to share my work with you.

Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your work?

One of my favorite quotes “Give external shape to inner visions” by Henri Matisse is painted on a piece of wood and hangs in my studio. It is my mantra, a reminder of all things possible.

Barbara Brady, Sand Beach, 48x60 inches, oil on canvas, 2011

All images courtesy of Barbara Brady