We recently connected with Laura Brenton and have shared our conversation below.
Laura, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. Can you talk to us about how you learned to do what you do?
My journey as an abstract painter began in childhood. I was given my first paint set when I was 8 years old and my first painting was a copy of a Picasso.
My family always thought of me as an artist but I never considered myself an artist because I didn’t have any training in visual arts. My background is in dance and somehow that was different for me. I grew up studying the piano and after college moved to New York to study dance. Being with a group of wildly creative people was part of my path. However, growing up in Colorado, I realized New York was not the place for me. I needed my feet on the earth and I needed to earn a living.
Upon returning to Boulder, Colorado, where I grew up, I earned a Master’s degree in business. From this I was fortunate to accept a creative job that paid the bills. As Programming Director for “The ‘90s” cable TV channel, I worked with independent producers and learned about video.
All of these things contributed to me eventually landing in a painting class. I began with landscapes and learned the basics of composition, color and painting techniques. As I continued painting, I questioned my inspiration, subject matter and art in general. Eventually I committed to painting abstracts which was like jumping into the unknown – responding to what was in the moment. I realized the important thing for me is curiosity and being present. Inspiration is everywhere, I just need to feel it. I sought out a painting teacher who broke down ways of looking at abstract composition and who gave excellent feedback.
Step by step I moved towards expressing myself through painting. Each phase contributed to my learning and to my journey. You have to go through the process, there is no reason to race to the end. I remind myself that the process of painting IS why I paint. It is not about an end product. What I love is creating and being in a state of creativity with others. Abstracts invite us all to let go of preconceived ideas and experience the moment.
I continually come up against obstacles in my painting practice, it is part of learning. I worry about it “being a good painting,” which takes me into my analytical brain and into fear. There is a time for analysis but I don’t want to go there too soon. If I go that direction, I paint the life out of the work. Fear stands in my way time and time again – fear of something new. It took time for me to fully commit to abstract painting. It takes me time when I add a new skill to my toolbox like mark making or collage. To help me stay on my path, it is essential for me to have a support system. Although painting is a solitary act, which I enjoy, having a community I can count on, that commiserates with my struggles is necessary. I learn so much from other painters and artists. If there is one thing I wish I would have started earlier it is reading about other artists, hearing their process, listening to them talk about their work and looking at lots of work.
Laura, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
I am drawn to color, texture and mark making in my work. I dance the paint around the canvas with brushes, palette knives, painting with my fingers, scraping back through and making lines. My work is intuitive. The magic of uncovering form and color inspires me. The unexpected moves me to paint. I seek beauty, mystery and connection in my paintings.
My work focuses on texture, expressive lines and color to create a sense of movement that reflects my dance background. I primarily use acrylic paints and a variety of mark making tools. Painting gives me space for reflection and at times requires a leap of faith, which can be scary, frustrating and thrilling. It is a process of letting go over and over again.
I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to connect with people and show my work. I was part of a coalition of women painters who traveled to China in 2018 to exhibit and sell our work. I was included in “The Creative Sanity” book project, published in 2020 (available on Amazon) and my work has been sold to institutions and individuals nationally. I continue to paint commission work and create expressive abstract paintings from my studio in Boulder, Colorado. I can be reached through my website: LauraBrentonArt.com and my work can be seen on Instagram @laurabrentonart.
For you, what’s the most rewarding aspect of being a creative?
The most rewarding aspect of being an artist is time spent in the studio being in a creative state: it feeds my soul. Sharing that creativity with others is a total bonus. I love hearing artists talk about their processes and what inspires them as well as art patrons talking about their experiences. My journey is sharing creativity.
Is there something you think non-creatives will struggle to understand about your journey as a creative?
Abstract painting is not always easy to view or understand. As humans, we try to make sense of our situation. Looking at an abstract painting, our brains often jump into finding shapes that are familiar or making what we see into something.
Viewing a painting begins with looking without expectation, being present for what is in front of us and listening to what arises within us. It takes time to let go of our analytical mind and just be curious. Sometimes I find myself thinking, “I like that” or “I don’t like that.” What if we suspended judgement and just experienced what is in front of us? It might leave a little space for our creative minds to soar.
- Website: https://www.laurabrentonart.com
- Instagram: @laurabrentonart
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/laurabrentonart
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGjwLKVuLXc&list=PLo-ffaKIFffWPpBmVGGN7Qu9w14m1XRAG