Creating visual harmonies
This story was featured in the September 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art September 2015 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
Before J.M. Brodrick begins a painting, she first determines the mood she wants to convey to the viewer. Next she chooses music that reflects that mood, so she can listen to it while she paints the piece. Brodrick’s memory bank holds a vast catalog of classical music. Growing up in Finland, she often played a game with her father that was similar to the American television game show Name That Tune. For every musical composition the young Brodrick could identify correctly, her father awarded her 25 cents. For naming the composer, he gave her a dime.
That musical storehouse serves her well today. Brodrick can point out the music she listened to for each work she creates. For the award-winning painting LINDA, Brodrick wanted to evoke drama. So, while she painted, strains of the Mozart opera Don Giovanni wafted through the air of her Oregon studio. The painting, Brodrick says, was inspired by her yoga teacher. “Her grace and beauty compelled me to ask if she would model for me,” she says. “Linda said she never thought at middle age she would pose nude for an artist. But I told her, ‘Beauty is not limited by age.’”
Brodrick has studied painting since she was a child and received her first art scholarship at age 13. She eventually went on to study painting with Anita Peterson in Helsinki, Finland, and Sandra Tischnor at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Whether she is painting a portrait or depicting the Oregon coast, Brodrick plays one color off another harmoniously in much the same fashion as a composer who uses note combinations to form a symphony. She insists on maintaining a spontaneous approach to her work—painting what inspires her at the moment, moving between genres, and combining artistic styles. “I am a painter working toward merging my need for realism and the beauty of pure abstraction,” Brodrick says. “I have always hated painting backgrounds, so now I take off my eyeglasses and paint what I can’t see very well by just globbing it with paint, making a contrast to the sometimes tighter realism of the subject.” —Bonnie Gangelhoff
Featured in the September 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
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