Monday, April 1, 2013


Leif Eriksson
36 x 36 in. acrylic, pastel, and oil stick on panel
What are you working on in your studio right now?

I am currently working on a series of panels ranging in size from 12 x 12 in. to 48 x 48 in.  The hard surface lends itself to mark making and aggressive methods.  The paintings are loosely based on maps, historical references, and the landscape.  Of late historical maps have played a greater role in the process.  

Can you describe your working routine?

I constantly work and rework paintings. I surround myself with influential matter but not too much.  I will insulate myself from artists and things that might have too much influence.  I study color, line, shape, and form but not to the point of losing my identity.   
Sometimes a random color from a magazine or a phrase from a book will stir something from within.   Painting on a consistent basis allows me to create a cohesive body of work.  Although taking a few weeks off when I feel out of sorts allows me to refocus and regain momentum in the studio. 


Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?

My studio is a room on the lower level of my home.  It is by far the best space I have ever had.  I previously painted in a small (11 x 7 ft.) room in an apartment and a unairconditioned/unheated garage with a single light bulb.  My newest space is around 20 x 20 ft.  Five windows measuring 7 ft. in height provide a lot of natural light.  The natural light has allowed me to see and use color in a new way.  The palette is much brighter and bolder than in previous years.  


Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.

Like many artist I am influenced by my surroundings.  Seeing the lay of the land on a constant basis has intentionally/unintentionally shaped my work.  I once worked from photos and drawings.  Things were much more structured.  I now work directly on the surface.  Often drawing with pastel, paint sticks, or other materials.  Things evolve from the marks, forms, and color I use.  The erasures and remnants left by overpainting and scraping coalesce in to the “end result.”  Many times the “end result” doesn’t last very long.  I obsess over the smallest detail.  I scrutinize the paintings before I go to bed and when I awake in the morning.  Brushing my teeth or ironing my clothes I critique my work.  If the painting does not find a home soon enough it will be reworked many times over during its life.

Russian Ballet
48 x 36 in. acrylic, pastel, and oil stick on panel
What are you having the most trouble resolving?

The goal is to create more expressive and free flowing work.  In the beginning my paintings were expressive to the point of being almost naïve.  As I refined my methods, things became more about the forms and less about the painting as a whole.  At times the painting would suffer from this attention to detail.  I want to allow the work to breathe and be more open.  The best work, be it my painting or someone else’s, flows effortlessly.

Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?

Currently I use a variety of materials and methods.  Acrylic, pastel, paint sticks, cattle markers, house paint, etc. find their way into my paintings.  Sennelier is my favorite brand of paint.  I do like the matte quality of cheaper paints found at local craft stores.  Often times laying down a layer of paint like Sennelier or Golden with a matte layer on top.  I find it much easier to draw on top of the matte layer.  It has an almost chalkboard surface.  House paint is sometimes mixed with the matte paint to varying degrees.  The glossy nature and full body of black house paint is something I have yet to find in artist quality paint. 

I prefer wood or hardboard panels to canvas.  I am very hard on the painting surface.  I use kitchen knives and other crude objects to gouge, carve, or scrape the surface.  Years ago I would nail random pieces of wood and other objects to the paintings.  Eventually my work shifted away from these constructs but many of the methods remain.    

"The paintings intentionally and unintentionally inform one another. 
I like to put them up together to see how they play off one another."
What does the future hold for this work?

To create a cohesive body of work built on drawing and mark making. I feel my educational background as a history teacher indirectly affects my work.  Historical people, places, events, and maps have been a focus of mine for close to 20 years.  My current work includes primitive markings found on maps.  I remember completing history assignments as a young boy, using crude symbols for mountains or singular marks held together by a horizontal line to form fencing.  I began using these symbolic features about 15 years ago.    I recently began reusing these forms.   
I will also continue to explore pattern and line within set parameters.  I do not want the paintings to become ornamental or design based.  Abstract or not a sense of place is always the driving force behind the painting. 

Wrapped in Rainbows,
  36 x 36 in. acrylic, pastel, and oil stick on panel
Is there anything else you would like to add?

I appreciate the opportunity to share my views on painting and my work.  I would like to invite people to visit, Painters Table (Brett Baker), and the Structure and Imagery (Paul Behnke) blog.  PT, Structure and Imagery, and blogs such as Studio Critical have impacted me to varying degrees.  The ability to read, hear, and see what other artists are doing has been an indelible source for me.  Curating Contemporary is an online exhibition space dedicated to showing work of contemporary artists here and abroad. The goal of is to garner more attention for artists and curators alike. To make new connections and inroads with artists, curators, and galleries.

I would also like to thank Julie Torres for including me in the ALLTOGETHER show in Brooklyn this past summer.  Showing with such a talented group of artists working in different manners caused me to rethink art in both personal and general terms.  The ability to bounce ideas off a group of painters is something I sorely miss at a local level.    



  1. Revealing and insightful answers! Thanks, Brian (and Valerie) for letting us into your process.
    Also, thanks for the mention.Very kind of you.



  2. You're blowin' up Brian! The new work looks great!
    Thanks for this interview.

  3. Such a beautiful post and it make my mind a bit with new imagination.I love outdoor canvas art and trying to be a perfect in that but your post make alive and suggest a new way of exploring the talent of mine.Thanks!!!