Meet LeeAnn Brook a Nevada City, California-based artist whose works explore landscape through color and movement. Using an expressive layering of colors, textures, and awareness of light, Brook’s paintings are inspired by environments of water, grasslands, gardens and forests that surround us.
Brook is one of over 35 artists showing at the annual Artisans Festival, Friday & Saturday, November 28 & 29 at the Miners Foundry Cultural Center. This holiday tradition is one of the longest running festivals in Nevada County and is known for showcasing the exceptional work of regional artisans. This year’s festival takes the term “Art Party” to another level with dozens of new artists, installation art displays, performance art, live music, children’s holiday art activities, and a rustic, bohemian Acoustic Café and Wine Bar. Tickets $3, $5 Weekend Pass, Children 15 and under free. Daily hours are 10am-5pm.
Filled with intensity of color, light and unique textures, Brook’s large format contemporary landscape paintings are built with layers of color and patterns that reflect the layers of nature. Depth is created with the use of subtle patterns and textures that are then integrated into the painting as a whole, where the technique becomes secondary only to the full effect of a vibrant landscape, encouraging us to notice what is beneath the surface of what we see every day.
What was the art background of your childhood?
My dad was an artist, but he died when I was six. My mom was not artistic so she put art mentors in my life, starting with a neighbor boy who taught me about classic art and artists.
When did you recognize a special talent or interest in art? Was it a moment or a process? Can you remember a specific setting?
In kindergarten I knew I would be an artist. Literally, it was the very first time the teacher said “tomorrow we’ll be working with paint.” I brought my brush, my smock, and cousin’s majorette baton to paint. I loved that thing and when I painted it the other kids kept coming around saying it was good and asking if I was going to be an artist someday. I said, “yes” and that day encouragement set the course of my life.
What did your parents say when you told them you were going to be an artist? Was it a moment or a process? Can you remember the specific setting?
My mom knew I loved art and continued to support my talent. She also made sure I developed my secretarial skills. I suppose she thought art would be my hobby.
Then, when I was a senior in high school, I took a graphic arts class and loved it. My family wasn’t able to pay for me to go to college, but my teachers and guidance counselor encouraged me to apply to a graphic arts school. The day I told my mom, she said something like, “Oh no, honey, you need to be a secretary.” And, then I went to graphic design school.
Who or what were your early creative inspirations?
I’ve had a lot of mentors who helped me recognize my inspirations.
There was an older kid in my neighborhood who was very artistic. My mom got him to come and teach me to paint. I lived in a very rural area where there wasn’t much exposure to art. He gave me the classics.
Then a neighbor moved in who also recognized my talent and mentored me. I attended a great high school that had an incredible art program. And, then, at 18, met a man who was an abstract painter and he introduced me to the art scene; and the ins and outs of being an artist like museums, supplies, other artists.
What, besides the obvious, do you like about selling your art?
I love talking about art. The first time I did open studios, finally after 40 years, I was able to overcome my shyness and just couldn’t shut up. I feel that’s what doing art shows is about; the conversation between artist and collector is one about what turns you on. I thrive on the direct interaction and connection.
What do you think is the role of art in a society?
My role as an artist is to do art that gives enjoyment to someone else. My art is made to bring beauty to a patron’s home. I get to share and pass on beauty. Art brings beauty and appreciation.
What have been the biggest sacrifices you’ve made for your art?
I don’t feel I have sacrificed. My life has been nothing but full and rich. Being an artist has brought so much to me. I am humbled by the life I get to live.
What is the funkiest job you’ve taken to support your art?
Luckily, every job I’ve worked in has been related to being an artist and a businessperson. The funkiness is just that it’s my business and I do everything from toilets to windows.
Anything particularly interesting or striking about your story that you’d like to share?
Most of my career has been as a graphic designer. I started painting again about 12 years ago and now I have 2 studios.
I just published a book that will be out by the time of Artisans. It is about my work and how in art one medium affects another. It’ll make a great gift item.