Featured Artist: Adrian Landon Brooks

Featured Artist: Adrian Landon Brooks

Adrian Landon Brooks

S&H editor Ben Nussbaum spoke with Wimberley, Texas-based Adrian Landon Brooks about living in the country, “painting on weird objects,” geometric patterns, and more.

Tell me about your journey away from traditional paper and canvas.

Adrian: It was a little bit of a fork in the road. I met my wife in Austin and we lived there for a while and then when it was looking like we wanted to create a homestead, we opted for the hill country outside Austin.

So we bought six acres and that started a never-ending project—the land had no infrastructure whatsoever on it—we built from the ground up and did a lot of the work ourselves. Almost all of the wood I use as canvas is native Texas wood, and a lot of that has to do with my surroundings.

I had always lived in the city—San Francisco and Austin and I grew up
in Houston—so to live literally in the woods definitely impacted my creative process. ... I feel grateful for our decision to live out here and let that manifest in my process.

Do you miss the city? Do you feel the need to recreate the hustle and bustle of the city in some way?

I thought that would be the case, but honestly it’s right where I need to be. I’m able to achieve some focus that I wasn’t able to otherwise. There’s just less distractions. Not having that lingering thought in my head that I should go to the coffee shop or go here or go there.

As a family we do get stir-crazy sometimes, but I’m lucky to usually have a few openings a year, generally in other states. Any chance we get to go to the openings and make a trip out of it, we do.

Do you remember the first time you painted on the sort of rough, raw wood you use now?

I’ve always been drawn to painting on weird objects. I used to go to antique stores and estate sales and stuff like that just looking for objects that I thought would be interesting to paint on or use in some fashion.

The patterns can be tedious, but also cathartic. Once I’m painting, it’s all the cheesy stuff people talk about, getting lost in your creative process, where literally the world is shut out for that time.
Saying Grace Adrian Landon Brooks

Around that time I remember painting on some scrap wood similar to what I use now. I distinctly remember it because at the time I had no idea how to do anything with wood. There was no way at that moment to integrate that into my practice because I wasn’t capable of recreating that. Through the course of building our house and living in a more rural setting, I got infinitely more handy. Cultivating those skills made a huge impact on my creative practice. Now I’m at a point where I can start off with these big, daunting pieces of wood and cut them down to workable sizes.

The geometric element in so much of your art—creating these neat, repeating, precise elements—is it tedious? Does it feel like work?

When I’ve thought about it, there are two prominent ways I approach things and think in general, just in life. And they converge within my artwork. That sort of tedious planning and drafting is prevalent in other parts of my life as well, in things I do outside of art. That’s getting represented in my paintings. It’s satisfying different parts of my psyche.

The patterns can be tedious, but also cathartic. Once I’m painting, it’s all the cheesy stuff people talk about, getting lost in your creative process, where literally the world is shut out for that time.

Beyond that, I’m always playing with contrasts, so that’s kind of what I’m doing with the real clean matte paint on these rough surfaces, and the same things with contrasting the figures, the more narrative side, with these design-based elements. There’s something aesthetically soothing in that for me.

The pattern work has probably stayed more consistent in my work than anything else, from the beginning.

Where do you see your art evolving?

What I’m making now, I want to make it larger. A lot of that has to do with being in a place where I can build a bigger studio and have more dedicated space. Just having more space on the page, so to speak, will probably open up more possibilities.

I’ve been inspired to push my scale from painting murals. Creating studio work on a similar scale is exciting to me.

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