In the summer of 2010 Brooke returned to Europe to further her classical training in oil. She enrolled in a four week course at the Florence Academy of Art, an atelier run by Daniel Graves with an international reputation for its focus on the traditional painting techniques of the Italian Renaissance. The above photos show the month-long process of creating an oil painting from a live figure model in Italy.
After painting in the Louvre, Brooke would walk the Pont des Arts, across the Seine, to the Musee D'Orsay. Here lies many of the vibrant artworks of the Impressionist artists and it offers a distinctly different experience from the classical polished realism found in the Louvre Museum.
While in Paris, Brooke studied figure drawing with Kathy Burke. Using deft, dancing strokes to explore the human form, Brooke learned to see with new "artist eyes" and filled several sketchbooks outside of class. She drew people on the metro and scenes all over the city.
While earning her BA from UCSD, Brooke traveled to France to study the techniques of the Old Masters. At an intimate, atelier-like studio in the 20th arrondissement, Brooke's first oil painting class examined the methods of the Renaissance artists: grinding pigments, curing linseed oil, and making gesso from a 15th century recipe. The purpose f this labor intensive process was to prepare students for copying a masterpiece in the Louvre Museum. “Madonna and Child” (above, right) is Brooke's copy of Orazio Gentileschi’s painting and is Brooke's very first oil painting. She chose Jean Baptiste Santerre’s “Suzanne Au Bain” for her copy of an Old Master in the Louvre Museum (above, left & right).
Inspired by the fresh color and bold brushwork of the Impressionists, Brooke experimented painting alla prima portraits from life. She used a mirror to paint self portraits and asked friends to pose in her dorm studio.
Upon earning her BA in studio art, Brooke delved into creating her first major body of work. She learned how to use a digital projector from a drawing professor at UCSD and was curious about the roles modern technologies play in photorealism art. She developed a series of large oil paintings using a digital progector to sketch the compositions and applied the glazing techniques learned in Europe for her luminous color effect. Each painting in the photorealism series tells a personal story and is inspired by Brooke's friends, family, and fellow travelers.
Sacramento lies at the convergence of the two major rivers that help feed the delta system of Northern California. As the state capital, Sacramento has one of the most diverse populations in America and boasts a vibrant culinary, cultural, arts, and music scene. When Brooke moved to Midtown Sacramento, exploring the surrounding waterways, neighborhoods, and nightlife became a natural extension of her art. The experience inspired 3 series: Responding to Rivers, Streets of Midtown, and the Musicians of Midtown.
Most of these paintings are in private art collections. A few remain with the artist.
Brooke's friendship with California impressionist artist Earl Boley was both instantaneous and effortless, one of those chance meetings that steers the course of an artist's life. For five years, they met every Wedneday morning at Earl's home studio to paint flowers and fruits harvested from his garden. When Earl passed from a sudden stroke in 2013, Brooke lost both a mentor and a collaborator. His no-nonense, speak your truth, life is art philosophy still resonates with Brooke to this day.
There's a quote on Pat Mahony's studio wall that reads "Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." This bit of advice from Samuel Beckett perfectly encapsulates the Mahony Group experience. What started as an informal group of artists painting from a live model turned into six years of a weekly artists' "salon" and a major group show at the Sacramento Temporary Contemporary Gallery. In 2011 Pat Mahony opened her art studio to gather some of Sacramento's most accomplished artists: Boyd Gavin, Marcy Friedman, Fred Dalkey, Meech Miyagi, Jian Wang and other guests. Each artist's unique aesthetic, arts education, and experience fueled a supportive group dynamic that made for lively conversation on contemporary and historical art.
"While the sketches succeeded as present tense studies of movement, I ultimately wanted the Musicians of Midtown series to invoke the distinctive feel of the musical genres being performed. The challenge became: how do I visually describe an aural experience? I began to ask myself what the vibration of a plucked string might look like, how could the sound from a symphonic rock band look different from funk or pop music, and how does color affect our feelings like musical notes do? Taking my sketches from live performances to my studio, I began to work out these questions in oil paint. Starting with a black canvas (to represent the dark stage before a live performance) I played musical recordings of the band I was painting to set the energy for the piece. I choose colors and brushwork to mimic the feeling of the music. By roughly jabbing at the canvas in moments of loud intensity or lilting and twirling the paint with the crooning of a note, I often found myself dancing at the easel. I chose my subjects based on the friendships that developed over the year and a half it took to create the series. I chose them to represent the diversity of race, gender, and musical genres that make the local Sacramento music scene so vibrant."
The inspiration for the series began with an ink sketch at Old Ironsides. As the musicians performed, arching and contorting their bodies to the rhythm of the music, I allowed my pen to dance "blindly" to their energy. For several months, I explored many of Sacramento's live music venues and quickly filled six sketchbooks with over 450 lyrical drawings.