“Something about the forest has always transfixed me. The abstraction, flow, and complexity has always drawn me to it." Jared Brady
Complexity, yes, that mix of the solidly real and the multiplicity of less well-defined items, leaves, twigs, grasses, that make up the actuality of the forest, can be a daunting task for a painter to take on. The approach that Brady takes reminds me of the story of how Renoir reacted to Emile Zola's criticism of Impressionism. Zola complained that impressionist work was too incomplete, lacking in structure, a bit "exageré." Renoir's answer was to paint The Luncheon of the Boating Party, which presented defined structure, demonstrated great composition, and yet allowed for the abstraction so often found in impressionist art. Likewise here in Brady's painting, A Golden Moment, we see structure and defined composition, but there are also those areas of pure abstraction. The yin/yang flow of those two opposites - the defined and the abstract - is at the heart of Brady's painterly magic. Just look below at the details from two sections of A Golden Moment. Each could stand alone as an abstract painting.
"I look for interesting shapes, value patterns, and color notes. Some days I find something quickly, and other days it can take some time." Jared Brady
If Brady must be forgiven for anything, it is the dedicated determination with which he hunts his plein air subjects, even in the dead of winter in the rugged Rocky Mountains. That focus on his quest for those "interesting shapes, value patterns, and color notes" produces lovelies like the one below, called Softly Falls the Light.
Now, if I were to say about the painting above, "Oh, look at the colors, the yellow, pale green, tan, gray, violet, blue, and even pink," would you say, "What? I see snow. Snow is white." I'd say, "Let's look again." Yes, snow is white but not only white. Brady works with what is both under the snow, and what is on top of it. The snow-covered trees are brown, but not just brown. They are tan, deep brown, almost black, and with touches of green, a dash of yellow here or there, gray and gray-violet. On top of the many branches rests snow, but it is white snow with a light layer of the palest pink. The shadows that rest upon the snowy slopes are in cool blues, grays, and gray-violet, all adding to the feeling of winter cold, while at the same time delighting the eye with their dance of color on the crust of that snow. The sloping landscape composition allows for the feeling that the artist noted in his title. The light does indeed fall softly on the quiet beauty of the deep forest in winter.
Now I have a treat for you. When the artist says sometimes it takes a while to find what interests him, this little video shows exactly what that is like. Enjoy your visit to the woods of Winter Aspens (Filmed by Jared Brady)
Brady was 16 when artist, Ken Shanika, introduced him to oil paints and the world of representational art. As a resident of Colorado, Brady found that he had lots of beautiful scenery to inspire his art, including forest, which is one of his key areas of painterly interest. His family and the local arts community are credited with encouraging him to develop his talents to the point where he decided to pursue a career as an artist. Brady has been a featured artist in Southwest Art Magazine, 21 Under 31 (he has just turned 22): Young Artists to Watch in 2019, and Western Art & Architecture, Illuminations: Artist Spotlights 2019.
"I want to help people see the beauty in everyday things. If viewers get the sense of excitement and joy that I experienced when painting a particular piece, then I have succeeded." Jared Brady
Just so you do not think the artist spends his whole life outdoors in difficult environments, let's go now to the studio. The painting above is titled, Peaches and Cream, which conjures up the image of sweetness and light, in fact, perhaps something too sweet. However, that is not what is going on here, and the difference has a lot to do with that abstraction that serves as the background to this still life composition. Not unlike some of the items on the table in Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party, where many items are quite distinct, but some are done in quick soft brushwork, here the items in the foreground, the bowls, creamer, sugar bowl, etc. are distinct and recognizable - peaches are definitely peaches.
However, when one looks closely at these items, one sees dashes of paint that amplify their shapes and their colors in a balance of the distinct and the abstract. As one's eye goes deeper into the painting, the items further back, like the glass vase and its flowers or the copper container, become less distinct though they are still recognizable. The way the artist uses a delicate, loose handling of the paint while maintaining enough distinction to show the form of the object is Brady's magic touch. The almost purely abstract and very dark background with its interesting impressionistic stems, faded flowers, and bramble of color creates a sharp contrast to the foreground. The balance of the light, more distinct foreground and the abstraction and deep colors of the background work hand-in-hand to modernize what could have been a very ordinary still life subject. Instead it is both engaging and still a bit mysterious, a civilized setting in an enigmatic wilderness of colorul strokes.
Roses by Candlelight is a Valentine if there ever was one. However, like Brady's other still life paintings, the timeless theme takes on depth because of how he handles the subject. In particular, the elongated reflection of the candle holder plays an Alice-in-Wonderland trick on the consciousness. The relatively small candleholder takes on an extremely big, long reflection in a shiny surface we presume is a glossy table, but which almost looks like a deep pool of dark water. It becomes difficult to tell what is on the table and what is reflected in its surface. This change in our normal perceptions lures us into the depths of that mirrored surface and elicits a gentle smile at the magic of the mood created by this use of the realistic and the abstract.
Autumn Melody is a salute to the fall, done in all the rich colors one expects to see when the seasons change to autumn. The little white gourds, scattered dry leaves, bright sunflowers opened to their maximum, all sit on a slightly wrinkled white cloth. That light surface allows the viewer to see and experience the shapes of the objects, while the abstract handling of the drapery behind the still life just adds to the feeling of autumn, as it seems to be made of some thick, warm material. Brady keeps the usual balance of light and dark, of defined and abstract, that is part of his expression.
Brady says, "Art is an extension of the artist. I think a piece of the artist has to shine through in their work, whether it reflects how they see the world or how they interpret it." In the work presented here, it can definitely be seen that in each piece, there is a personal expression of an individual's view of his world. Brady's expression does not limit itself to working in oil paints. He also does film and uses it to showcase his art work. When asked to talk about how he came to use video to show his art, he responded like this: "It began when I decided to create time lapses of my watercolor painting sessions. Fast forward a few years, and I now enjoy spending time producing videos of my painting process using creative shots, sound design, and editing. It’s a great way to tell a story and give people a behind-the-scenes look into my creative process."
For a "behind-the-scenes look" into that creative process, take a look at Fall Still Life
In the scene above of a quiet valley draped in a new fall of snow, the narrow shafts of sun- light fall upon the trees and filter their way to the ground, making for shadows and highlights that play hide-and-seek with one another across the valley floor. We look at the foreground and see how the snow has draped itself over the fallen branches and logs, making for a complicated walk for whomever moves through these brambles. Perhaps, though, the magic of the moment is just to stand and look at the way the sunlight touches the trees in the middle of this patch of forest. It probably happens that way every day, but no day is like the one in which you see it. That is what makes it truly an Enchanting Valley.
"Art gives us the opportunity to see the world through others’ eyes, and it can give us a greater appreciation and understanding of the world around us."
What we see when we look at the world through Jared Brady's eyes is a place full of subtle everyday beauty. We see the beauty of a quiet forest, its fallen trees, twisted branches, and remnants of grass under a layer of white snow enlivened with touches of color. Some roses lit by the light of a candle sitting on a glossy reflective surface become a wonderful illusion that captivates the gaze. This painter's reality is given to the viewer with just the right touch of magic to let us see the world through his artist's eye.
Jared Brady is represented by the following galleries:
Jack Meier Gallery, Houston, Texas.
Broadmoor Galleries, Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Studio 8369, Grand Lake, Colorado
Montana Gallery, Billings, Montana
Jared Brady Fine Art at jaredbrady.com
For more on Marjorie Vernelle, see the author page at amazon.com/author/marjorievernelle
She also has an engaging art history blog that talks of painting and wine on ofartandwine.com
© Marjorie Vernelle 2021