Starting the New Year off by interviewing one of my favorite artists, John Brosio was more than just a positive experience; it was an inspiring and insightful dream come true.
I first discovered Brosio’s work when my boss, Linda Wehrli introduced me to Arcadia Contemporary at the LA Art Show. I was immediately drawn to his beautifully haunting paintings that combine fantasy with reality. (I later discovered we are both huge Ray Bradbury fans!) Linda and I were ecstatic to also learn that Brosio studied with another one of our favorite master artists, Wayne Thiebaud at the University of California, Davis! I’m pleased to present my interview with this brilliant artist.
Q1. What is your style of painting referred to? For our art students, would you please describe what this style means or represents?
J.B. People know me for representational work – that is to say it is not abstract. It looks like
something. Within this genre I definitely play with what some describe as Surrealism
which is a 20th century movement that tried to include both dream and reality.
Q2. Much of your work features tornados, monsters and creatures. What is the story or
inspiration behind your choice of subject matter?
J.B. Not sure! My original aspirations were toward film and storytelling but I was never
seduced by the camera. And I think that such a thing – being seduced by the medium –
is important. But further still, I don’t feel myself to be all that attracted anymore to
storytelling – the influences are still there from film, but I think I’m drawn to the mood it all
sets: the relationships and the gamut of our daily dealings. There is at times, for
instance, a certain flavor delivered by a good old fashioned movie poster, and that
experience can at times be better than the film it represents.
Q3. Our students are interested in the latest tools of the trade. May I please inquire, what is your
preference for paints and brushes? Is your work on canvas board? Do you ever make
your own paint or have custom made-to-order pigments for any of your projects? Do you
finish with a varnish or leave as is?
J.B. I use almost exclusively bristle filbert brushes. They are amazingly versatile. I paint
mainly on canvas, but board as well. And there are so many great colors available I
never felt a need to make my own colors. I generally use Winsor & Newton® paints but
also some Old Holland® brand. I have never not been able to find a color I was looking for. In
the end, I often leave the painting coated with a layer of Galkyd Lite (a Gamblin® product)
infused with a bit of cold wax medium to take down the shine. However, I have recently
started using Gamvar varnish. Some of my brushes work best after having been truly
Q4. At what age did you realize you were an art spirit?
J.B. Hmm. That sounds very positive. Maybe more positive than my path. I would say that, in
high school, I started to get very antsy and upset if I could not do some kind of drawing
or painting when I wanted. It was a very compulsive thing. But I had been making
pictures from as far back as about 4 years old – most kids are doing things at that age
but I just never stopped. I cannot even conceive of stopping.
Q5. Did anyone try to talk you out of fulfilling your dream as an artist? If so, how did you
J.B. My father was denied his dream in the arts because of an over-bearing father. But he
was very supportive of my aspirations. Very supportive. I cannot say I ever dreamed of
being a painter though. I had always wanted to work in film special effects but that
career barely got off the ground before I realized it was not what I had expected.
Q6. How did Arcadia Contemporary and you become acquainted? Did you seek them
out or did they find you?
J.B. Simple as this: I was wanting to go to New York and look at galleries. And given that I do
representational paintings, I decided to contact the best such gallery out there I could
find for some advice as to where to start. And I am both lucky and grateful that Steve
Diamant (Arcadia) took an immediate liking to what I was doing.
Q7. What tasks does a gallery like Arcadia Contemporary handle on your behalf?
J.B. Any good gallery is your agent. They will both offer advice and listen to what you have
to say. They promote, ship, show, advertise, bring in serious collectors, and hang your work
with other artists you admire. A good gallery will always pay you for sales right away and
every artist I know at Arcadia cannot say enough about how well we are treated with
regard to every point I mentioned here. And even when my work turned a bit incongruous
with what the gallery was doing for a few years, Steve let me know and invited me to
show him future work that I thought might be a better fit (which is why I was gone for a
while). I understand that he is running a business and Arcadia understands that an artist
sometimes needs to try things. I am lucky to be with them.
Q8. Art can touch people’s lives, bringing happiness and hope. For example, my boss’
art school partners with CoachArt to provide free art classes for families impacted by
childhood chronic illness. Is there a charity you are fond of or support, that you might like our readers to learn more about?
J.B. There is Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles. It basically provides support and jobs for youth making their way out of a life of crime and gangs.
In closing, do you have a favorite quote, mantra or process that you find inspiring or
helpful when faced with a creative block, that you would like to share with our readers?
J.B. Hmm – I cannot think of a single quote. Ray Bradbury has been an inspiration of late –
the things he says about the working process. And my teacher, Wayne Thiebaud,
demonstrated a work ethic very parallel to how I see Bradbury. But any creative block
seems to clear out with a good cleaning of the house.
To learn more about this remarkable artist, please enjoy visiting his website or Facebook page.
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You can learn more about Pastimes for a Lifetime’s Art Curriculum and founder/instructor Linda Wehrli, on the website.