Jeremy Browne, Simple Serenity, Art of the West, March April 2016

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March/april 2016

For All Fine Art Collectors


Shades of Gray, acrylic, 16˝ by 12˝ “My love of painting wood, clapboard, and stone is what excites me to paint. In this painting I loved how each of the elements seemed to play off one another perfectly, with minor changes in tone and color.”



ristine and peaceful, the paintings of Canadian artist Jeremy Browne are a celebration of freedom, nature’s beauty, and man’s relationship to the natural environment. Like Monet’s haystack imagery, which explores the perception of light across various times of the day, seasons and weather conditions, Browne’s paintings create similar visual essays that celebrate his own fascination with the inherent natural beauty found in rustic, rural homesteads enhanced by the glow of sunrise, evening shadows, or moonlight reflections on a snow-covered landscape. Born in 1977 in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, Browne’s early upbringing imbued him with an inherent love for the simplicity of nature. Sharing his parents’ enjoyment of the outdoors, he spent nearly every weekend of his youth camping in Canada’s national and provincial parks, many of which were situated in the fertile farming areas of central Ontario. Those weekly outings left him with indelible memories of vast stretches of open lands with only an occasional farm house to interrupt the view of an endless horizon, memories that continue to be the wellspring from which he draws inspiration for his unique compositions depicting rural settings in their barest form. 56

ART of the WEST • March/April 2016

Home at Last, acrylic, 16˝ by 12˝ “Most of my work is very architectural looking, with many of my scenes being done in an elevation type format. This painting was one where I wanted the various planes of the barn to give you a sense of depth and dimension.”

March/April 2016 • ART of the WEST



ART of the WEST • March/April 2016

Winter’s Grip, acrylic, 12˝ by 24˝ “This barn has beautifully weathered wood, and the atmospheric difference between the background woods and main structure was what initially drew me to this scene.”

The Mud Room, acrylic, 12˝ by 24˝ “This very old property is located in Pennsylvania, and I was struck by the vast array of materials used in the various buildings. I wanted to convey the textures of each unique surface.”

Loving to draw from childhood, Browne’s initial ambition was to pursue a career in animation. “We have Sheridan College, one of North America’s top animation colleges, right here in Toronto,” he says. “After three years of trying unsuccessfully to get admitted into their animation program, I decided to change my focus, graduating with a degree in marketing, but I still continued to pursue my artwork on a personal level.” Browne’s journey as an artist was simple in its creation. He is primarily self-taught, and unlike American landscape painters who might cite French impressionists or California plein air painters as having influenced their work, Browne’s influences are primarily Canadian artists such as Thomas John Thompson. “Thompson was a plein air painter from Toronto who, like me, had no formal training,” he says. “Considered one of Canada’s finest artists, he was part of a collective of plein air painters who worked for a design company in Toronto. A few years after his death, the collective became known as “the group of seven.” Early in his career, watercolor was Browne’s first choice of mediums. However, as he began to market his work professionally, he became aware that many galleries and collectors resisted putting works under glass.“At this point, I switched from watercolor to acrylic, but I still paint on watercolor paper and now apply four coats of varnish to the finished painting so there is no longer a need for the glass,” he says. Relying on this technique, Browne slowly built a following in the Canadian market.“The way artists sell their work in Canada differs from the way it’s done in the United States in that we don’t have the extensive gallery systems and large national exhibitions,” he says. Artists in his locale primarily sell their paintings through group shows or at art fairs such as the Toronto Art Project, a yearly contemporary event that hosts some 250 artists working in mediums ranging from oils and watercolor to encaustics and glass. Browne’s first opportunity to broaden exposure to his work came approximately five years ago, when he sent an e-mail application to the American Miniatures Show at a gallery in Tucson, Arizona. “I wasn’t all that familiar with how these shows worked, but I saw that artists whose work I admired were participating, so I decided to try my luck,” he says. “I was accepted and sent two paintings, both of which sold, so this exhibition became my introduction into the American Market.” In addition to his single Canadian representative, a gallery in Toronto, Browne currently exhibits his work in U.S. galleries in Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, and Texas. Last November, two of his paintings were accepted for the Small Works, Great Wonders exhibition at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Browne frequently paints the same architectural structures, adding variety by changing elements such windows, and doors, or adding round cisterns used for water storage. He confesses that painting historic structures in the isolation of rural settings offers him the greatest challenge and sense of satisfaction. Those vast, open spaces allow him the freedom to explore the effect of lighting on the land. In this regard, painting the same scene and portraying the effects of early morning sunrise or the growing shadows of a mid-winter evening entirely changes the viewer’s response to the composition. When looking for subject matter, Browne does not have to venture far from home. “There is a lot of open land north of the U.S. border,” he says “I think about 85 percent of the Canadian population lives within 100 miles of there, so the further north you go, the sparser the population”. Working in his studio for approximately four months, his preference is to portray his March/April 2016 • ART of the WEST


Early March, acrylic, 18˝ by 36˝ “Pennsylvania has some of the largest farm properties I have ever seen, with each one offering a great deal of various surfaces for me to paint, each one slightly unique in its own way.”

Deep in the Woods, acrylic, 12˝ by 20˝ “This was the first barn I had ever seen that had the barn wood painted blue, and that in itself was more than enough to make this one of my favorite paintings.”

surroundings in late fall and winter, explaining that, during those seasons, the Canadian landscape is at its barest, so there is nothing to distract from its pristine beauty. When not actively painting in his basement studio, Browne and his wife Amanda travel together, often spending up to six months driving the back roads of Ontario and the northern United States, looking for new locations to paint. “We are only about a sevenhour drive from central Pennsylvania, and it is there that I find many of the historic stone buildings that are a favorite subject,” he says. “I look for structures that are made from older materials such as stone, clapboard, and wood, because I enjoy the challenge of trying to recreate their rustic surfaces and textures. The architectural style itself is also very important. I look for complexity of the design, something more innovative than just a square or rectangle.” As a diversion from his studio work, Browne also enjoys doing on-site sketching and continues to work on his drawing skills. “I work primarily in pen and ink or pencil, since these are compositional references rather than color studies,” he says. Browne also shoots a myriad of photos of the same structure. “I try not to photograph from just a single angle,” he says. “For instance, I may do a closeup, where the whole building fills the screen, with no background, and sometimes just a wing or a segment. 60

ART of the WEST • March/April 2016

With these I am focusing all my attention on recreating the look and feel of the surfaces, the stone, or the wood.” Not yet 40, Browne is still on the cusp of discovering his artistic potential. As he matures, he is beginning to look at ways to expand his subject matter. “While what I continue to enjoy most is architecture in rural landscapes, I have begun to consider doing some urban settings, and I have also developed a fascination for light houses,” he says. ‘ As a Canadian, the obvious maritime setting would be Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, or northern Vermont. “Amanda and I have spent the last two summers in Nova Scotia, gaining a familiarity with this region,” Browne says. “I am still the most comfortable with the winter scenes, but I am trying to put the time in and slowly get better at doing the summer lighting and adding foliage to the trees.” Browne also is considering new mediums. While his preference is acr ylic, he is interested in learning the intricacies of oil painting. “Acr ylics dr y so quickly, while oil remains wet, and that is something I have to adjust to,” he says. “The hardest part is tr ying to find time to put into learning, so what I have started to do is bring my oil paints along when we travel, so I can learn their characteristics by experimenting with them in a more leisurely setting.” Whatever direction Browne heads in the future, one element most likely will remain unchanged: his proclivity to portray life in its most uncomplicated form. Indeed, it is his love of simplicity that becomes the magnetic attraction for patrons seeking to add a sense of timelessness and serenity to their lives.

Myrna Zanetell is a writer living in El Paso, Texas.

March/April 2016 • ART of the WEST


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