GR2: Living Depictions: Elliot Brown Interview

GR: You paint in oil, can you talk about the difference vs painting in acrylic and why you choose to paint in oil?

EB: I paint in oil because it is the best way to finish a painting for me. I typically start my paintings with graphite and move to acrylic washes before moving to oil.  This works well for me because I can quickly establish my values and basic color structure.  The whole process of painting to me is a push and pull between building up detail and then destroying what isn’t necessary to the story or composition of the painting.  The reason that I constantly obscure, break down, scrape down my paintings is because I want to avoid any part of my painting feeling too precious.  My process of painting is just as important as the content and I believe that they should complement each other.  Oil is my weapon of choice because it allows me to create depth and the build up of layers that acrylic cannot.

GR: Your subject matter seems to pose a lot of people hanging out. Can you talk about what you’re thinking and feeling with some of the images?

EB: My subject matter is a mix between documenting moments in my life, fabricated or candid, and painting people I find interesting that through the act of painting I can create a sense of emotion and sometimes romanticized life style.  Though a painting of mine may contain elements of beauty or nature, it is through the lens of chaos and destruction.  I want to recreate the sense of nihilism in my paintings that I see in life.  Everything must be destroyed in order to obtain the kind of knowingly distructive lives we live.  People I paint may drink, smoke, do some drugs, ride motorcycles, skateboard, play in rock and roll bands, and make questionable decisions.  These are often the most creative and inspiring people that I know because they are authentic.  Painting for me is relative to that balance of destruction and altered perceptions.  I want to create paintings that build up layers in a way that invoke an altered state and sense of derelict freedom that I see in my subjects.

GR: Your work has a traditional element to it. Can you talk about your influences? Are any from centuries ago?

EB: My influences are mainly contemporary painters like John Currin, Nicolas Uribe and Kent Williams, and like them I have ultimate respect for the classics like Lucian Freud, Sargent, Sorrolla, and Goya.

GR: I know you’re into music, rock, etc, just through your attire, can you talk about that, and if it touches your art?

EB: Although I don’t play any instruments, music is a big passion of mine.  I love going to shows, and many of my friends play is totally rad bands.  I am mostly into heavy metal and good rock and roll, and lately I have been mostly into bands with psychedelic and folk influences. In some ways I relate the layers of instruments, progressions, and heavy build ups(especially in psychedelic rock) to the way I build up my paintings.  There are ascending levels of paint and crescendos of texture that reverberate under dirty glazes.  The music that I listen to has definitely been an influence in my life, and I suppose that my work is a bit more aggressive because of it.