June 2015 Artist of the Month | Ajay Brainard

Congratulations to our June Artist of the Month, Ajay Brainard! He was a finalist in The Artist’s Magazine‘s Annual Art Competition! His painting Every Thing Reminds Me Of You is below. Keep scrolling to read more about the thought process behind each work of art and what his very first art project was!

Visit the artist’s website at www.ajaybrainard.com

Everything Reminds Me Of You by Ajay Brainard

Every Thing Reminds Me Of You (oil on vintage sheet music cover, 10×13)

My mother claimed to be the first person to recognize my creative tendencies at the age of 5 when I made use of a carelessly unattended paint roller. I’d transformed our family dog from an uninspiring white to a far more painterly shade of blue. As a child, I preferred to spend my time collecting insects, sitting under a tree, dreaming off into the clouds or quietly drawing images culled from the pages of National Geographic. After years of self-guided experimentation and practice, I returned to school in 2008 to pursue my dream of dedicating my life to art.

The objects that I collect and incorporate into my artwork speak to me in some way and serve as a reminder of my own mortality. What fascinates me about nature is the duality of complexity and simplicity that exists within it. I attempt to portray a balance between hope and despair, life and death and evoke an emotional response. Most recently, I have been exploring the concept of transitions and thoughts on being discarded.

Every Thing Reminds Me Of You is part of a new and ongoing series of paintings created on vintage ephemera. The substrate is a work of art in its own right; it has a history and a story to tell. I feel that even an overlooked tattered piece of paper deserves to be preserved, honored and admired for its wear and given a new purpose. I’m attempting to manifest new life into these objects by combining them with subjects that are undergoing a passage from one beautiful phase of their existence to another. My intent is to illustrate the constant state of metamorphosis in both nature and materials that are man-made by focusing on the temporary characteristics of their physical appearance and practicality. The use of such a bright and bold color palette is intended to bring life back into these faded, aged and colorless materials.

This particular piece depicts a Comet moth (Argema Mittrel), otherwise known as a Madagascan moon moth. It’s one of the world’s largest silk moths and is currently endangered in the wild due to habitat loss. The surface in which it’s painted on is a cover from a 1906 sheet music cover that was found in an old New England barn.

Working with oils on paper, some of which are over one hundred and fifty years old, certainly poses a few challenges. The first step is to prepare a hard surface, ¼ inch or ½ inch birch in which I can then mount the ephemera to. The fragile paper is then mounted to the gessoed panel and sealed in using museum quality PVA glue. I then proceed to paint just like I was working on any other rigid substrate; applying many layers of paint in the traditional fat over lean manner. Much of my work requires painstaking patience. Several thin glazes of color are used to achieve the depth that gives the piece a Trompe L’oeil feel. After adequate drying time, the work is then varnished just as any other oil painting would be. One specific obstacle with this piece was the multiple of layers of yellow paint that it took to fully cover the black ink of the paper.

My paintings are an exploration of my inner self and speak to the feelings and emotions that are related to the experiences of life; they are windows into my soul. I owe an immense amount of gratitude to a long list of close friends, colleagues and family who have continued to inspire, encourage and support me as I follow my dreams, however impossible they may appear to be.

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