A Sublime Colorist – B.H. Brody art information – Brief Article
Through her bold yet spiritual landscapes, B.H. Brody strives to show viewers a different way of seeing the world
Artist B. H. Brody likes to call herself a colorist, and one look at her landscape paintings will explain why. Electric blue trees, deep red fields, fantastically bold colors that vibrate with intensity–surely this is the mark of a color enthusiast. And yet, there is something spiritual and sublime about Brody’s work, something that invites contemplation. Perhaps that is why someone once told her, “You take ridiculous colors and make them work.”
For Brody, this inclination to look at the world through a different lens has set her apart from others. “I have always believed I see things differently from other people,” she said. “I believe people are on earth for a reason, and from a young age, I felt it was my job to show people to see what I see.”
And she’s doing just that. Whether through her originals or limited-edition serigraphs, Brody offers her unique perspective to the world. And collectors can’t get enough, so much that Brody exclaimed, “I can’t feed the horse fast enough.” Her serigraphs, published by Washington Green in the U.K. and distributed by Gregory Editions in the United States, consistently sell out. They are especially popular in the U.K., where she recently won the prestigious “Up and Coming Published Artist of 2000” award at the annual Fine Art Trade Guild business awards ceremony held in Stratford, England. The Fine Art Trade Guild, founded in 1847, is the oldest print guild in the U.K., and Brody was the first artist from outside the U.K. to win the award.
Not bad for an artist who paints “ridiculous” colors for a living.
A Unique Vision
“I am blessed in that I do what I love,” said Brody from her studio in Chambersburg, Pa., a small town where corn fields, rolling hills and Amish people populate the landscape. Brody’s artistic eye began to develop at a young age, when she became fascinated with light and shadow. “My earliest recollection was at the age of three,” she said. “I lived in Highland Park, a suburb of Chicago, and then, there were a lot of empty lots. I wandered off, and I remember going to the corner lot, sitting on a log, watching bugs and looking at how the sun comes through the leaves on the trees and what it does to the ground with light and shadow. It made quite an impression on me … The next thing I remember was that the police found me, because my mother was terrified that I had wandered off.”
As she grew, art remained a constant source of pleasure for her. “I was always drawing things and building things,” she said. “At one point my mother had a gallery in our house, and it was just wonderful seeing all the new work.”
Her father also inspired her to explore her creative side. “My father was incredibly creative, and he was a great mentor and champion of my work,” said Brody. (Indeed, creativity seems to run in the family. One of Brody’s sisters is a sculptor, while the other is an art director. Both of Brody’s sons are writers.)
In high school, Brody became interested in industrial design while continuing to paint and make collages. During the summers, she went to camp in Montana near Glacier National Park, where the wide open vistas and mountains greatly affected her. “I was awed by what I saw, and the majesty around me became very spiritual,” she said.
Following high school, Brody studied briefly at the University of Iowa before transferring to the Los Angeles Art Center School (now called the Pasadena Art Center School) where she studied package design and took art classes. “In those days, girls were not encouraged to become industrial designers,” she said.
However, after a couple of years she found herself back in the Midwest, married and ready to raise a family in Iowa. Over the years she would work at various jobs–as a color consultant to a major advertising firm in Chicago and as the owner/photographer of a photography studio in Iowa. By chance, she ended up specializing in agricultural photography after receiving a special assignment. Little did she know this experience would inspire her later landscapes. “I fell in love with the land. It impacted me tremendously,” she said.
Meanwhile, Brody was beginning to build her career as a fine artist. Having landed her first gallery show in a Minneapolis/St. Paul gallery at the age of 21, her paintings continued to sell at galleries over the next 20 years. But while her life as a fine artist was, from some people’s perspective, flourishing, it wasn’t enough to satisfy Brody. Therefore, in 1983, Brody decided to quit her job and devote herself full time to fine art. “I realized I always wanted to know what I was going to be when I grew up. That’s when I knew I had to become a full time artist.”
In the Studio
Brody’s decision to devote herself entirely to art has paid off. Her bold, rich colors and unique interpretations of landscapes have garnered considerable acclaim both in America and abroad. Inspired by painters like Gauguin, Kandinsky and Milton Avery, Brody describes her work as a “reflection of the spirit that surrounds me.” At home, Brody’s stylistic mark can be seen everywhere. “I draw on furniture, on little blocks. There is always something in my house that I’m drawing on. Even my dog has a little painting above his dish,” she said.
Typically, Brody spends six to eight hours a day in front of the easel. She likes to paint to the music of Ella Fitzgerald and the Brian Setzer Orchestra, whose swinging rhythms inspire the pace of her compositions.
Brody likes to improvise not only with color but also with subject matter. As she explained, “I live in a beautiful, lush valley in Pennsylvania, and I go out and look at what’s around me and put it in my head,” she said. “I draw, but the drawing comes from inside me, it doesn’t have to do with anything I’ve seen.”
These highly imaginative landscapes are often created in suites. “My ideas for paintings come to me in complete suites or groups,” she said. “While preparing the canvas, I intuitively know the number of pieces there will be.”
While many people Brody’s age might be gearing up for retirement, Brody has no plans of slowing down. Instead, she looks forward to many more years of work, in which she will create more collages in addition to her paintings and serigraphs. “It’s like breakfast to me,” she explained. “This is what I do.”
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