Rhode Island School of Design graduate, Christine Brennan, creates whimsical, dreamlike paintings in her cozy California studio. Christine’s work has been shown in countless exhibitions and is in public and private California collections. And as if that weren’t enough, Christine also has a book, in addition to maintaining an online shop with more affordable works of art.
I recently had the chance to interview Christine and we were lucky enough to be able to take a peek into her studio as well, which is amazing by the way. I mean have you ever seen a fireplace in a studio before? Love it! Enjoy the tour…
First, I have to ask about your studio. It is so bright and inviting. I am curious to know what do you like most and the least about your workspace?
I love that it’s about a 40 foot commute from home, with skylights and French doors that bring great light and a view of the garden. What I like least is that it can get really hot in the summer and takes a while to heat up in the winter.
How did you get started with your artwork?
I was lucky, after floundering around unhappily in school to find a couple of wonderful art teachers who really nurtured a love and predisposition toward art. I ended up going to college at the Rhode Island School of Design and pretty much have been at it ever since. While at Rhode Island School of Design I started off in the painting department but found that a bit restrictive. I discovered that as an illustration major they let you take lots of classes outside the department and still get credits. I did printmaking, ceramics, papermaking and even a bit of illustration.
Do you work full time as an artist?
I have been a full time artist for about 5 years now. Before that I worked two days a week at HumanArts gallery here in Ojai a fine craft and jewelry gallery that has also represented my work for quite some time.
Working as a full time artist is a dream many of us share, but it can be difficult to achieve. What advice would you give to others who are beginning to promote their own work? Any tips you can share?
It’s good to have a back up plan, (waitressing, graphics, illustration), for me it helped to work in a gallery. I got to see the business from the other side. Now that I’m on my own one of the challenges is to get out into the world a bit. I meet with friend who is a glass artist once a week and we have a sort of work meeting were we might discuss what we want to accomplish in the coming week, write it down and report back a week later. Sometimes I find It’s very helpful just to bounce ideas off someone and to know if I committed to finishing x amount of work I have someone besides myself to answer to a week later.
How much time per week are you able to dedicate to your work?
It varies so much I find it difficult to measure. Usually I work in spurts when I am in the studio doing just painting 3-5 hours a day, or just jewelry, or shadow boxes. Or it may be just doing the business end of things for a whole week. I often break things up quite a bit with hobbies (I garden and play the cello) so I am not forever just sitting in a chair.
Can you name your three favorite artists?
Oh I was afraid of this question! I don’t really have favorites. I find aspects of many artists work I really enjoy but never really label them as favorites. Here’s a try…..Balthus, Stanley Spencer, and for someone a bit more contemporary Amy Huddleston.
How about your three favorite makers/crafters?
(again yikes, but here goes) Elsa Mora, Margaret Keelan, and Carolyn Morris Bach
Who or what do you draw the most inspiration from in your own work?
A good trip to the bookstore sometimes helps to just get out of the workplace plus there is no end to the great amount of books and magazines to inspire. I like to bring a tiny notebook to take any notes and sit with a cup of coffee. Also nowadays a trip into the city to go to museums or galleries isn’t a necessity to see great stuff, you can just go online and peruse the many fabulous blogs out there to see what other artists are up to. And never forget the power of a good hike and a bit of nature to inspire. It may not be what I paint but it sure feeds the soul.
That’s it for the tour! Thanks so much Christine for a lovely interview.