Angie Brooksby paints mainly in series – “Italian Food Paintings”, “New York City”, “Contemporary Paris” and “American Southwest”. Out of these, the French collection happens to be particularly charming. Paris – the city of science, art and love – was where the artist had always dreamed of living. She was born in New York in 1965 and obtained a BFA in sculpture from the Maryland Institute College of Art. In 1986, she studied sculpture in Florence, Italy at SACI via the Art Institute of Chicago. Later, she attended the Accademia de Belle Arti di Firenze. Then, in 1988, writes Angie on her website, she bought a one-way ticket to Italy and for twenty years “rode her vespa throughout the countryside with her easel strapped to the back”. Finally, in January 2007, she moved to Paris.
Angie depicts the Paris of today as it is during day and night, lit by the sparkling sun and flashing neon. The city is ever-alive and accommodating, with its tourists, students, shoppers, office-goers walking about or pausing at its many monuments, cafés and theatres.
It is colour theory, more than any other literature on artistic technique, that Angie finds most useful. “I spent a lot of time learning how to mix and juxtapose colours,” she says. “Technically, colour is the most important part of my painting. And the philosophy behind it is Contemporary Realism. What is contemporary today is history tomorrow. This is why I like to paint urban themes. In a city, sometimes, history is literally 24 hours away.”
She continues on colour: “The book that had a significant impact on my work is M. E Chevreul’s The Principles of Harmony and Contrast of Colors (1855). The version I have was published in 1987 by Schiffer Publishing Ltd. I had to write to the publisher to obtain a copy. Chevreul (1786-1889) was a French chemist who revolutionised colour and its application to painting and dying.”
Here are some quotes from the introduction of the book that are of interest to Angie. On page 14, in reference to letters by Delacroix – who was heavily influenced by Chevreul:
The elements of color theory have neither been analyzed nor taught in our schools of art, because in France it is considered superfluous to study the laws of color, according to the saying, ‘Draftsmen can be made, but colorists are born.’ Secrets of color theory? Why call these principles secrets which all artists must know and all should have been taught…Give me mud an I will make the skin of Venus out of it, if you will allow me to surround it as I please.
Also, on page 14 – in reference to Claude Monet:
The objects of this world are not fixed like a photograph. They constantly assumed a different aspect from moment to moment…Oscar Wilde remarked at the time, that if art imitates nature, in any view of London fog, nature will be seen as imitating Claude Monet.
“The aspect of optical mixing in Impressionism influenced me when I learned colour theory,” Angie points out further. “Though I don’t like to admit it, Impressionism has had an influence on my painting. Notably in the use of colour in shadows and how each colour has its own shadow colour. I’ve met only one other artist who understood this about my painting.”
We refer to the custom of placing a quantity of small dots of two colors very near each other, and allowing them to be blended by the eye placed at the proper distance…The results obtained in this way are true mixtures of colored light. This method is almost the only practical one at the disposal of the artist whereby he can actually mix, not pigments but masses of colored light.
Below is a selection from Angie Brooksby’s wonderful collection. For more of Paris – and other cities – check out her website.
Images used with permission.