Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Hand IV, oil on canvas, 4 x 5 ", 2008-2011

What are you working on in your studio right now?

I’m working primarily on my smaller paintings. My newest work includes some extremely small pictures – miniatures – that are as small as 4 x 6 inches. I’ve been working on some of these miniature paintings for 3 years now. These are not studies for larger works, but substantial works in their own right. Their portability also interests me. They are as significant as any paintings I’ve made but will fit in your pocket. I’m also working large again after about a two-year gap, both on traditional large works and installation paintings.

Can you describe your working routine?

My working routine is not set. I have a day job, I blog, I’m a dad. I’ve learned over time to integrate my studio routine into my life. When I’m at home, my studio is a step away so if I have five minutes I paint. My most extended painting time is at night. It’s not uncommon for me to paint from 10pm to 3 or 4 am. I also extend my studio space by bringing unfinished paintings into the house to keep new work in front of me.

Studio, painting wall

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

Studio spaces have definitely impacted my work. In 2003 I moved from a huge, dream studio in upstate New York to a tiny New York apartment. I was in New York, which was fantastic, but had very little space, which was a shock.

I still wanted to make large paintings and thought I could, perhaps, make “big” small paintings. At the time small paintings for me meant sketches or studies. I stretched ten small canvases and resolved to work on them until they lived up to the larger works. What I lost in space turned into time - these first paintings took two to four years to complete. I literally lived with the paintings, and they were a record of my time which became an important part of their content.

The small working space in New York was floor to ceiling paintings that one couldn’t escape. This influenced my first installation painting in 2007 – a 30 foot long free-standing painting that faced the wall (it was actually painted in the upstate New York studio). Though the painting was large, the space it created was intimate - paint and color became a kind of shelter.

Now I paint in a garage studio. It is much larger than the apartment but still a hybrid space that also houses garden tools, bikes, etc. With the additional space, I’m beginning to work on larger surfaces again.

studio, drawing table

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

In addition to painting I draw from life - self-portraits, skulls, and lately, hands. Drawing provides energy and structures I use in the paintings. I paint with a small flat brush (which I cut short) and use a paland razor blade to cut back into the surface. I tend to focus on a single painting and then let it sit while I work on others. I have about fifty paintings in process at any given time. On average, each painting takes about two years to complete – some as long as four or five.

studio, painting table

What are you having the most trouble resolving?

Space is my biggest issue at the moment. I have some large (15 x 60 foot) installation paintings planned.

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

I work with little or no medium – just a bit of linseed oil and mineral spirits to thin the paint when needed. I experiment much more with supports than with paint. The possibilities of support/surface fascinate me.


What does the future hold for this work?

I am finishing up a group of miniatures that I would like to show – ideally in conjunction with a large installation piece. I’m also looking forward to summer weather that will allow me to use outdoor space to work on my installation paintings.

painting in progress,
oil on canvas, 11 x 8", 2009-2011

Is there anything else you would like to add?

This year, I’ve been inspired by the many painters who not only post their finished work online but also share their studio practice through blogs. In addition to Painters’ Table, I am thinking of starting a studio blog to document my work and to write about issues specific to my own artistic concerns.

Thanks, Studio Critical, for including me in this great series of interviews.


  1. Great interview Brett. I look forward to seeing your studio blog.
    And like many others Painter's Table has become a daily staple for me.

  2. This is a great interview; I love the small paintings shown, and the larger ones. The fact that you work in such different sizes is fascinating.

  3. So happy to see this Brett: inspirational. Besides, your "small" works are indeed "huge."

  4. Thanks for this interview -so great to see Brett's works en masse and in studio.
    I've been highjacked by his exceptional Painters' Table blog and can't get out. ;)

  5. Brett,
    SO great to read about your work. Can't wait to see the "small" works.WOW
    Great interview!