In the lead up to arts season and the release of Fall for Arts, we issued a call for local artists to submit their work to be featured on the cover of the new edition. The Sea to Sky is bursting with talented artists, so it was hard to choose just one piece to make you all Fall for Arts, but Brent VandenBroek undeniably captured the spirit of our Arts Scene.
Mixing the photorealist with the abstract, Brent brings nature and art together to share the innate beauty of one of the region’s spectacular species – the grizzly. A self-taught artist, Brent says he’s learning as he goes and enjoying every minute of it. We got a chance to catch up with Brent and learn a little bit more about his art, inspiration, process, and more.
Read on to get to know our featured artist for Fall for Arts 2018!
Can you tell us a bit about Brent VandenBroek, the artist?
I’m new to the art game, I’m going all in and betting on myself. Friends and family have always told me I have a gift, I feel like this is what I’m supposed to be doing, so we’ll see what happens, I suppose. I recently stopped working a “real job” in order to pursue and develop my art for one year, then I’ll re-evaluate my situation. I don’t really have a “style” yet – I figure it will emerge naturally over time. I’m learning as I go, absorbing as much as I can, trying any technique, medium, and genre I find interesting until something grabs me. I definitely prefer to create bold works of art, pieces that really grab your attention, some that make you think. Contrast, depth of field, and motion are almost always incorporated in my work.
Who or what has been the biggest influence to you in terms of your work? What drives you to keep creating?
Life experiences, my past career, and my other passions are what have most heavily influenced my work so far. I have an engineering background and I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so that has certainly influenced my photorealistic and op art pieces. They require a lot of precision and attention to detail. Unfortunately that has hindered my ability to create more abstract or “messy” pieces, but I’m working on that. I’ve raced motorcycles, motocross, or downhill mountain bikes my entire life. I’ve always had a love of wildlife and the outdoors. All of these things influence the subject matter I choose – I have to love the image I’m working with.
What drives me to keep creating? I believe that if you have the gift of creativity, you have a responsibility to share it with the world and all the people that don’t necessarily have this gift, so they can enjoy it too. Creating art is the one thing I know I’m good at and that comforts me. I’ve squandered my creativity for the vast majority of my life, now I’m making up for lost time and I want to create as much as possible. When I’m gone I want to be remembered through my art – art lasts much longer than life.
What is your favourite thing about creating your art?
My favourite thing about creating is that it takes me away from everything. It’s my escape from all of life’s bullsh*t. The most rewarding part is the joy my work brings the people who view it. Seeing someone’s eyes light up, the expression on their face when they view my work is far more gratifying than any paycheque I’ve ever received.
What materials or techniques do you prefer to use when painting?
I work almost exclusively in acrylic paint on canvas because it’s cheap, it dries fast and I can keep working, I lack patience for sure. I also do a fair bit of pencil work. I’d like to try oil and watercolour but I’d need some lessons… and patience. I enjoy experimenting with different tools and techniques to keep things interesting.
What is your favourite thing to paint?
I really enjoy op art (optical illusion art) because it’s so bold. People either love it or hate it though – it doesn’t appeal to the masses. My favourite pieces to paint are my thought pieces, like “Heavy Feather” or “Bleed,” but they’re not for everyone either. I haven’t done many thought-provoking pieces yet but I have about 50 ideas for future work, and I’m excited about those.
Can you tell us an interesting fact that people may not know about you?
I’ve had 56 bone fractures during my 40 year adventure on this planet and I’m still givin’er. I finished fifth place in the very first Joyride in 2004, (it was nothing like it is now, more of a bikercross event. I lined up on the gate with Steve Peat, Cedric Gracia, and Brian Lopes…. it was surreal).
Do you have any tips for artists who are just starting out?
Hmmm… Does anyone have any tips for me?! I believe that with enough practice, patience, desire, and determination you can achieve anything you put your mind to. I’d say believe in yourself and put in the work, the rest will fall into place.
Out of all of your work, what made you choose the Grizzly as your Arts Scene submission? Could you provide a little background on the painting itself?
I chose the Grizzly painting because I only have about 10 paintings and I figured it was the best fit for your contest. I’m going to enter a skier painting for the winter issue so watch for that! Why did I paint a grizzly bear? I have to support myself so I figured someone around here would appreciate and maybe purchase a bear painting? With that in mind I picked a photo and went about painting the best damn bear I could. It may not look like it but there was a ton of trial and error involved in that piece. It took me twice as long as it should have. I spent 20 hours trying to paint the splashing water in a photorealistic manner, then I got frustrated. I ended up finger painting most of the water, then using a medicine dropper and turkey baster to finish it. I have another bear painting started – it will be much better; I learned a lot from painting this first one.
If you could recommend some other artists’ Instagram feeds for people to check out, who would they be and why?
- Local artist @andreamuellerart, she’s helped me out with quite a few pro tips and she’s the only local artist kind enough to follow my IG feed (lol).
- I aspire to be as good as @_y_kim. when it comes to photorealistic work he is astonishingly good.
- I definitely appreciate and want to thank @reganjohnston_, another wildlife artist from Golden BC.
- @mikedargas2014 and @joelrea are both unreal and a constant source of inspiration and motivation to get better.
PLUS! Be sure to grab your copy of the 2018 Fall for Arts edition of the Arts Scene magazine, featuring Brent’s work, at the Maury Young Arts Centre and cultural venues throughout the Sea to Sky.
Want to be the next artist we feature on the cover of Arts Scene? Submit your favourite original winter-themed artwork for consideration by December 1, 2018.