Urban scenes and landscapes by artist Brooke Harker seem to move with her use of color, line and layering of paint. See more of her energetic artwork by visiting her website.
The paintings I create of bustling city scenes and coastal views commemorate a fascination with people and the choices we each make in every moment. What inspires this work is the recognition of how many moments add together to create a larger picture and generate new moments that will never exist again in the same way.
I assume that most people carry on with their day, unaware of how every choice they make creates an absolutely unique reality. This fascinates me. In the hunt for new compositions, I think of myself as a bit of a choreographer who works with players who have no idea they are collaborating.
I marvel at how a person’s shopping bag coordinates with the nearby street sign, or how a person wears the same color of pants as the building they’re walking next to.
Sometimes I wish I could reach out to someone and say, “Thank you for wearing that blue shirt, it really helped out my painting,” or “Nice call riding your bike through the scene right at the moment when the couple with the baby held hands… really touching.” Since giving random compliments to strangers might seem a little odd, I just say “thank you” in my head.
The key for me in choosing what to paint is that I must feel awestruck. If a scene carries the kind of power that makes me want to breathe in a little deeper or dance around, then I know it has enough magic to hold my attention for the duration of time it takes to create in the process that resonates with me.
I work in a series of layers in ink followed by thick oil paint applied with a palette knife. The foundation of all of my paintings is an energetic painting in an acrylic color I associate with the feeling of a place.
I tend to see all of one color at a time which is mirrored in how I paint with oils. I will work all day with one color or color family. I like to take breaks between colors to allow time to process the switch in energy from one color to another, even if just for a few minutes.
Having come from years of painting abstract and more traditional portraits and rendering, I found myself happiest when I blended energy discovered in abstract painting with tangible scenes.
This allows me the opportunity to be both precise and loose whether working with sketches made live on location or from photographs. There is definitely a structure in the way I work and within that I find freedom.
The paintings I create help me process life. That is the gift I receive from making them. It’s a double gift to know that each painting has a job to do without me through the eyes, minds and hearts of others. I am truly grateful to be part of such magic.