There is no doubt about it, Gene Brown’s art will get your attention. If you met Brown, who is a pretty low key, non-demonstrative guy, you might wonder from what compartment of his being does this type work come from.
Brown had an advertising design studio in Dallas for several years. In the 1970’s, I had the privilege of doing occasional freelance illustration assignments for him. I always enjoyed working with him, but when I left illustration for fine art in 1982, we lost contact until a few years ago when Southwest Gallery began representing me. It’s there, after many years, that we became reacquainted.
He closed his design company in 1995, and with some gallery representation, began painting full-time. I wondered how he made that transition. “In college I took every watercolor class available, but I graduated with a BFA in advertising design. In 1975, while doing commercial art, I went to a watercolor demonstration with a friend. That sparked my interest again in fine art. I took workshops, did sidewalk art shows, and painted all the time. I slowly phased out of watercolor and started doing acrylics in order to get the bright colors.
Brown’s work is uniquely his. There will be no head scratching wondering who did these paintings. There is an obvious emphasis on strong design and color. “Happy” and “joyful” are words that define the emotion of his paintings. “I have had many people tell me that my paintings are happy paintings,” Brown said. “They make people feel good. I know all about aerial perspective and lost and found edges, etc., but rules are made to be broken. I have fun with bright colors and I enjoy my niche. I had a gentleman, who bought one of my paintings, put it on his mantle at home so that when he came home he could look at it and unwind from his hectic day at work. That’s all I need.”
But how did he discover his individual expression? “I did watercolors for many years. I am a signature member of the Southwestern Watercolor Society and a past member of Artists and Craftsmen Association. One day I did a small acrylic painting and took it along with some watercolors to a dealer. He said that if I would do acrylics, he thought there may be a market for them. That was 18 years ago, and I have been painting in acrylic ever since. But, one’s style doesn’t develop overnight; it’s a gradual process that can take years to emerge. I had to allow my style to naturally evolve. I tried painting realistic figures, still life, and landscape; I was most comfortable with the landscapes. After doing watercolors for years, I wanted to get more texture and brighter colors in my work, so I started using acrylics. This is a water based medium, so not much of a leap from the watercolors. I had more opportunity to use the colors if I stylized the subject matter. I also wanted something that distinguished me from other artists.”
Brown describes his paintings as representational expressionism. “You can tell what the subject is, but I exaggerate shapes and color. Because I love texture and bright colors, that to me is almost as important as the composition.”
Painting ideas come from sketches or photos. Combining bits and pieces from various sources, a small compositional sketch…proportional to the canvas…is created. Using the grid system, the design is transferred to canvas. Brown does not use a limited palette, but as he puts it, “I use a full palette…every color imaginable.” His favorite contemporary artists are Robert Daughters and William Hook, but he also has great admiration for the early Taos masters.
“Art is my life,” Brown says. “I have made my living for many years in the design (commercial art), and fine art painting fields. My one goal has been to do the best work that’s possible for me to do. Being able to create something three-dimensional on a two-dimensional surface, that someone will like enough to buy, is very satisfying. I like the fact that I have a job that I really like, so I don’t mind going to work.”
“For those who would like to be artists, it’s important that one not take the Sunday painter approach. Creating art is a full-time JOB that requires practice, practice, practice. Talent is about 40%, the rest is hard work.
Thanks, Gene, for your “brilliant” work. May you continue making people happy.
You may enjoy more of Gene Brown’s work HERE.
John Pototschnik is an Art Renewal Center Associate Living Master
To view his bio and work, please click HERE
You are invited to follow him on Facebook at John Pototschnik Fine Art