I live in a lucky time, where expression is everywhere and easy in all kinds of media. We're experiencing the greatest surge of creativity and communication this world—possibly this universe—has ever seen. There is freedom of subject, medium, and technique.
Our technology is advanced, but somehow I feel very close to the earliest monkey people who realized and developed the human's mysterious ability to represent life and emotion. Although the motives are unknown and methods sublimely crude, their artistic exploration became the historical record of the experience and observations of earliest human awareness. Subject was life, media was anything that left a mark.
My methods blend the explorations of those monkey people with techniques developed by painters who followed eons later. I appreciate and take advantage of the contemporary artist's freedom to deviate and derive from these methods. I am grateful for and respect the lessons of all the artists before me, and the ones who work with me in my generation.
I work for quality, communication, and the belief that artists have a responsibility to create work that reports, records, and encourages others to believe that life has meaning—the human being is important.
In my current work I alternate between using reference and imagination—careful studies or loose interpretations. I start with hand-stretched canvas, wood, table-tops claimed from salvage… usually a rectangle that looks like it needs a painting. I prepare a black or white ground. The texture of the panel and the color of the ground influences all the colors and methods used in the painting from there on. On a darker panel I am painting my way up to thicker layers of light; on a lighter panel I am filling in deep shadows, letting the radiance of the white ground shine through the layers of thin color glazes on top. Some of my portraits are based on projections, which I trace following supposed methods of some old dutch masters, and some are drawn free from observation, and form is given liscense to evolve and exaggerate. A thorough exploration of color, value and composition are made independant of the painting. I may also explore and think/experiment on the canvas, and let evidence of the exploration give texture and history. I enjoy freehand drawing because it's amazing that people can have ability to translate what we see onto a panel in so many ways. I enjoy the precision of the projector because it allows me to focus on painting without the intense observation required in a freehand drawing.
I glaze, scratch, rub, use subtractive erasing, scumble… whatever it takes to make an atmosphere and likeness. It's surprising how little it can take to make the right mark. As I develop my technique, I am looking for my own combination of subjects and ideas to record, to bring into existence. I paint people who grab my attention, and try to see if I can make a painting that has the same effect. Each subject is a new puzzle, an exploration in what has a sense of rightness.
Bryan Sears painting Illustration