We’re excited to have our July artist of the month, Roger Dale Brown! He was a finalist in The Artist’s Magazine’s 30th Annual Art Competition. His painting, New Orleans Street Car is below. Keep scrolling to see what Brown has to say about art and life.
www.rogerdalebrown.com ~ Nashville, Tennessee
I took art in high school and did very well but art wasn’t encouraged as a career option, so I shifted away from it. I was living in LA selling eyeglasses the morning the Northridge Earthquake struck, and the store where I worked was demolished.They re-located me to another store and it was there that an artist came in to buy some glasses. We started talking, and he could tell I had a passion for art. He invited me to his studio for a critique of my work and he asked if I wanted to be his assistant painting murals and faux finishes. I worked with him on 5 large jobs for some Hollywood icons.
One day we were to meet a designer to give a bid on a job but he never showed up. I desperately needed the job, so I asked them to give me a shot and they did. They told me to set up an appointment with the clients. It was the shortest meeting in history. I really didn’t know how to conduct a meeting. I sat down with them and asked what they liked. “Monet.” I said, “wait right there,” and left the meeting. I went to the nearest book store and saw a calendar featuring Impressionist artists, bought it, and went back to the clients. We flipped through it and they pointed out the one they liked. In my one bedroom apartment, I tacked up a canvas and painted a Monet with house paints. They liked it. That was how I started my own business and my art career!
In 1997, after getting caught in the crossfire of a bank robbery, I decided it was time for me to move home to TN. By chance while visiting a gallery, the owner mentioned he was going to host a plein air workshop taught by Jason Saunders. Three months later I was in Wyoming taking from Scott Christensen. What really stuck with me from Scott’s workshop was his emphasis on the foundation of painting and setting goals. I always love a challenge, so when I got home I set goals. I was still working my mural business, but I set a goal for myself to paint one plein-air painting a day for 365 days, and to paint 100 studio pieces. My daily routine was to work 4 hours on murals, then on the way home, I would stop and do a 6×8 plein air, and after I got home, I would paint in the studio for 4 to 6 more hours. I also set a goal to be in a gallery by the end of the year. At the end of the 365 days I had painted 350 plein-air paintings and about 120 studio pieces. A lot were bad. I failed on my plein air goal, but after painting 350 paintings on location a year, and painting them with the intent to study, I grew. I did reach my goal to be in a gallery. Persistence and passion played a huge part in my development of my artistic abilities. Over those first 2 years I studied and became a student of art. To this day I strive to continue to learn more…
I liked the movement of the car in this painting and how the air moved around it. It was a challenge to create the sparkles and flecks of debris kicked up from the passing streetcar. There are always opportunities that arise during a painting. You have a choice to take advantage of them or not.
Right now, I really want to go to locations that inspire me. I want to spend enough time to absorb the culture. I’m staying in locations longer, to explore and study the culture, light, color palette and nuances of the location. This helps me evoke the spirit of a scene. I can tell a better story, since I have seen the place through the eyes of the people who live there, not just through my eyes.