A Storefront in Springville, UT
Text by Bonnie Gangelhoff · Photos by Scott Hancock
This story was featured in the April 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art April 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.
Describe your studio. My studio totals 5,500 square feet and is in a commercial building. I work in a large front room that faces south with two large storefront windows. I run the Center for Academic Study & Naturalist Painting out of the studio. The newest students share this front room with me, which allows me to more closely watch over them. The center room is the largest, and this is where our intermediate and advanced students work. We also hold daily model sessions in this space, as well as lectures and workshops. The north studio houses our two other teachers, Katie Liddiard and Brock Alius. We regularly share this space to work on portraits together as a way of practicing and pushing each other. We also have a basement that has a kitchen area, a room where we make painting panels, and a storage room where we keep packaging and shipping materials.
What elements were important to you in designing your studio? I love being surrounded by my studies from life, whether they are plein-air landscapes or figurative pieces. I have many of them framed and hanging on the walls. Almost every wall in my studio is covered nearly floor to ceiling with work. I also have a small collection of other painters’ works that hang next to my main work space. All of this creates an environment of appreciation and beauty that is really important for me.
What draws you to figurative work? The figure is so expressive and lends itself to the widest range of narrative. I am also interested in works that tap into the human condition, that have a chance to touch people in a way that transcends culture or religion. The figure lends itself to that humanistic experience.
Why is painting from life important to you? Painting from life is important to me because it is so informative. There are so many choices and potential solutions available. The largest portion of my work is usually invented, and I also use photography in my process. But my main source of inspiration and information comes from working from life.
What artists, living or deceased, have influenced you? I am constantly inspired by the Naturalist painters of the 19th century. To name just a few, John William Waterhouse, Ilya Repin, Jules Bastien-Lepage, and John Singer Sargent.
Do you listen to music while your work? I listen to a lot of different music while I paint, like Counting Crows, Ryan Adams, Bright Eyes, Metallica, and Adele.
Your daughter’s drum set is in the studio. Does she practice while you paint? Yes. My daughter Charlotte (Charlie) Brown is 7 years old and loves to play the drums. We have to keep the drum set at the studio because we have five kids, and they are loud enough at home without adding a drum set to the mix. When Charlie practices at the studio, I paint with my noise-canceling headphones on, and she can play as hard and loud as she wants. Of course, we have to do this after regular school hours, since I share the studio with the students.
What is your proudest accomplishment as an artist? That I’m still painting, still getting better, and I’m more inspired and clear in my vision than I have ever been.
What role does teaching play in your fine-art career? For me teaching is necessary. I feel very blessed to have received my education, and I feel a deep obligation to pass on that knowledge. It is also important for me to be surrounded by other like-minded artists and to be part of a community that demands excellence and strives to achieve the highest standards. It constantly pushes me and motivates me.
You haven’t shown works in galleries in more than two years. Why? I have been holding them all back in preparation for a one-man show in August at S.R. Brennen Galleries in Santa Fe. This exhibition is designed to be a reintroduction of myself and an entirely new body of work to collectors.
If your studio were on fire, what is one thing you would save? I would save my hard drives. They have thousands of images of my family.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not painting? I love doing CrossFit and playing basketball. I also love eating out, which necessitates the CrossFit.
What is one place people will never find you? In the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Where do you like to take people when they come to visit you? To the mountains.
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