Now, as Mid City Spring Open Studios nears on May 18 and 19, ArtSee brings you yet another exclusive. Scott G. Brooks, one of DC’s most recognizable figurative painters discusses the inspiration for his artwork, self-described as “twisted and offbeat, sentimental and disturbing.”
ArtSee: What is the last show you saw that inspired you?
Brooks: It’s always inspiring to me to see what other people are doing. A lot of the work I see is online now a days, just sifting through those pages. The blogs mostly, like there’s just a lot of contemporary art blogs that I subscribe to, like Hi-Fructose, Juxtapoz, Arrested Motion.
ArtSee: What is the greatest inspiration for your art?
Brooks: My work is always figurative so I’m always on a search for inspiration, sometimes it’s unexpected and something happens in the news or you read about something and that will inspire me. And humor. I try to get in some humor because the themes are dark so I try to add some humor. So depending on the situation, there always is something that makes me smile and other people smile.
ArtSee: Who is your favorite artist?
Brooks: There’s a lot. Dave Cooper is fantastic. He’s very figurative but he comes from a comic book background so his work has that comic book sensibility but they’re dirty and fun and his technique and style are a lot of fun, very rich. Here in DC, Eric Sanberg is fantastic. He’s an amazing figurative painter. His themes are fun and kind of twisted. We’re friends and I really respect his skill.
ArtSee: Do you have a favorite place to see art in DC?
Brooks: National Gallery. Whenever I have a break, that’s where I’ll go to re-charge a bit. I’m looking forward to seeing the Pre-Raphaelites show but I haven’t been over there yet. I think it’s very similar [to my work], that’s an area and style and a look and a feel that I strive for. The Pre-Raphaelites and the Victorians are really inspirational to me.
Brook’s studio will be open to the public as part of the Mid City Artists Spring Studio Tours May 18 and 19.
Bringing the Art in DC to You – Roxanne Goldberg
From Eliza French. Follow her on Twitter @elizaenbref; email her at eliza[AT]borderstan.com.
Scott G. Brooks has been living and working in the DC area since moving here from Flint, Michigan in 1990. He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts at University of Michigan in 1983, and considers himself “lucky” to know he wanted to be an artist from an early age. Although he has primarily worked in the world of painting and fine art over the past ten years, he also works as a children’s book illustrator and works in animation, graphic design and drawing.
Although some themes do translate from his work as a children’s book illustrator into his fine art, he says the process for his commercial and artistic work is much different. He uses different materials when creating the two, which puts him in a “different mindset” for each. His illustrations used to be all watercolor or gouache, but now he creates them using digital programs.
For his paintings, he prefers the more “flexible” medium of oil paint, which gives the artist a long time to manipulate the paint and also harkens back to the Pre-Raphaelites and Flemish masters he admires. Brooks has recently begun experimenting with Spike Lavender, a non-toxic alternative to turpentine used by the Flemish in the 17th Century.
Brooks’ two divergent interests in high-brow, classical art and low-brow, light-hearted cartoons and animation both contributed to his unique artistic style. As a younger artist, Brooks mostly painted in a more photo-realistic, traditional style. “It always bugged me when people would say, ‘It looks just like a photograph,’ ” said Brooks. So, he started to incorporate some distortion and other techniques from animation. The large heads on his figures, for example, are “very common in comics,” he said, pointing to the well-known Charlie Brown strip as an example.
Brooks’ distinctive style has helped him cultivate an audience around the country – and the world. In 2012 alone, he has exhibited works in New York City, Los Angeles, London and Melbourne. He still frequently exhibits work in DC and is a member of the Mid-City artists. Although he said it would be difficult to make a living if he only sold pieces within the DC Metro area, he says the network of artists here is “very supportive” of one another. “DC isn’t necessarily know as an art town,” Brooks remarked, “but there’s some great people.”
Most of Brooks’ friends, however, aren’t visual artists. He doesn’t go to “all of the big art parties,” but he does love to entertain and stay connected to the larger arts community. Many of his friends are performers and musicians, and he recently collaborated with one friend on a music video. Tom Goss’s “Make Believe,” released Monday, October 29, features one-shot animation by Brooks.
Brooks said he has a “hard time settling in” to just one thing and bounces around from one type of art to the next. This tendency to have a hand in multiple projects and incorporate a broad range of cultural references into his art has developed his distinctive style, but it also keeps propelling him forward in his artistic development.
Now, he says, “things are quiet.” He just opened a group show at Last Rites gallery in New York, finished his first music video collaboration, has plans to expand his illustration work and is just beginning work on a comic with a writer in Australia. His paintings, with their twisting distortion, dark satire and vivid backgrounds, capture the same tireless energy and broad range of interests that continue to inspire Brooks’ career.