Brooke Walker-Knoblich was asked to be The Art List's Artist of the Month in 2007.
Artist of The Month – Interview Questions
Name: Brooke Walker-Knoblich
The Art List: How and when did you start creating art?
Brooke Walker-Knoblich: My life has always been immersed in art. I attended Live Oak Waldorf throughout my childhood, had a fantastic art teacher in High School, Terence Baxter, and received a BA in Studio Art from UC San Diego in 2005. However, even though I colored 'til I had blisters on my fingers as a child and art was something I did for “fun” I didn’t become a serious artist until I spent my junior year abroad in Paris, France. In Paris I studied with Kathy Burke, a renowned portrait artist, and had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in the Master’s Copy Program in the Louvre Museum, wheeling my easel out of the storage closet to paint from Santerre’s “Suzanne au Bain” for several hours a day. I came back home with a new sense of purpose
and the beginnings of a technique to pursue a career.
TAL: What media and genres do you work in?
BWK: I am a portrait artist, though I have a hard time tying myself to the connotations of this traditional genre. I am fascinated by people in spontaneous moments. Nothing irks me more than a forced “smile for the camera” or a static pose to be placed over a mantel. I am inspired by a moment that involves an interaction between a person and his or her environment. This interaction typically includes the artist (and hence the viewer) by default of just being there to experience the moment with the subject. I work primarily in oils on canvas, though I have done many pieces in charcoal. Both mediums I find to be texturally “delicious.”
TAL: Who or what are your influences?
BWK: Thematically, I’m influenced and inspired by everyday people. I am constantly looking and questioning the uniqueness of every person within my view, wondering how their experience of this shared environment is different and how that is then reflected in themselves. Technically I study and adore Manet, Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth, and my favorite, Carravaggio.
TAL: What was your inspiration for "Creation" ?
BWK: Creation is a painting of the birth of my cousin Cordelia. I wasn’t able to attend the birth, so my uncle had sent me photos. When I saw one of them, I instantly knew it would make a fantastic painting. The photo itself just didn’t capture the miracle of a birth; the cold fluorescent hospital lights, cartoon dinosaurs on the baby blanket and a plastic cap binding the mother’s hair distracted from the spirit of the experience. I painted the warmth, love, and tenderness back into the image. Both my aunt and uncle wept when I gave them the painting.
TAL: Describe your creative process.
BWK: I carry a camera with me at all times and if I see an interesting scene or a face that strikes me, I’ll take a quick snapshot. Sometimes if a person really strikes me I will ask them to pose for a painting, either to be painted "live" if they have the time to devote to a sitting, or I do a photo shoot. I then use the photo as a reference, sometimes stitching together several to get the composition I want. I then digitally project the image, sketch out the basic forms, do a quick color coat to map out lights and darks of the entire canvas and then it’s detail work from there. I never have the dreaded blank white canvas block because I know exactly what I’m going to paint before I approach my canvas. I am on a constant search for new material and usually have a collection of images that would take years to turn into paintings. I work realistically, but am not a slave to my photograph. It is just a reference for the more complex and subtle emotions that the subject and viewer experiences.
TAL: What are you working on currently?
BWK: I am currently inspired by musicians. Many of my friends play, and music is such an integral part of our experience of a moment. What most excites me about painting musicians is the feeling of creativity in my subject. They are making something larger than themselves that affects all who hear. But music is one of those spontaneous things, and especially when people are playing together, there is a symbiotic relationship that comes into full focus. This relationship is at the heart of my work: a relationship between people, between subject and environment, between ourselves and everything else.
TAL: What are your near/long term goals as an artist?
BWK: I have been working professionally as an artist for almost 2 years now. So, I am a new and emerging artist, so to speak. I have been exhibiting my work nationally and won several awards this year, which is very encouraging. My short term goals include creating a local “hub” for my work (galleries, offices, coffee shops, etc.), just getting my work out there for people to experience. My big dream as an artist is to travel the world and paint indigenous peoples who’s cultures/ experience of the world are disappearing. For now, what better place to start than within my own culture and the people I meet everyday?
TAL: Where can people view/purchase your work (gallery, website, etc.)?
BWK: All of my work can be viewed on my website: www.PortraitsbyBrooke.com. Though I have yet to be affiliated with a gallery, I do post current events on my website. If you’d like to attend an open studio event or know about a local show, please email me at Brooke@PortraitsbyBrooke.com