The intimate bond between mother and child continually inspires Brenda Lee Gibson, and the muse behind her winning entry is especially close to her heart. “When my daughter was about 3 years old, she developed an instinct to care for her baby dolls,” says Gibson. “She liked to cover them up and nurture them, and I thought, how sweet—it’s just innate.”
For her painting, Gibson photographed a friend’s young daughter gently cradling a doll in her arms. The simple, tender act embodied the motherly instinct Gibson’s own daughter exhibited so early on. “The unconditional love between a mother and child is so touching and moving to me,” says the artist, who taps into her emotions when painting. “I don’t aspire to render the subject like a photograph,” she explains. “I like to put in my own painterly expression of it. It just flows out when you’re inspired by your subject matter.”
Gibson studied painting at the California Institute of the Arts and at the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art, where classes focused on working from life. Today she portrays still lifes and landscapes from life, but her direct-observation skills also come in handy when she references photographs for her figurative works. “Photographs flatten everything out, so you don’t see the planes,” she says. “Experience with painting from life helps you interpret photos so that you can put the planes in where you need them.”
Lately Gibson has been painting en plein air around her home in the Southern California mountains, and she also teaches painting workshops in her community. See Gibson’s work at Mountain Arts Network, Lake Arrowhead, CA, and The Lake House, Cedar Glen, CA.
This story was featured in the December 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art December 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.
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