New Painting: Black and Purple Rainy Canvas

In April 2021, I decided I would resume my art practice. I hadn’t painted a thing since my father’s cancer diagnosis and experiencing the mourning of his eventual death. It had been a hard year. In April, I picked up my paintbrush again, almost reluctantly, but necessarily.

During his care, I didnt have any desire to paint, only to take care of him to the best of my ability and spend as much time with him as I could, as we could as a family. After his death, my grief snatched my paintbrush from me, and anytime I even so much as walked into my studio, I would be reminded of my father.

When I finally did start to paint again on my first painting, it was a little more difficult than I expected. Not just like learning to ride a bike again, where muscle memory takes over, but learning to ride a bike with square wheels – not going anywhere very fast, even if going through the motions. To loosen up, when I taught one of my adult art students, we did a collaborative painting exercise, in which we would each make paint marks on individual canvases, abstract, and then switch canvases after every 4 minutes and do it again. The quick mark making and timed sessions helped to break down some of my hesitancy to even work with paint again, and it filled my studio with the smells of active oil painting again. This helped.

Over several weeks in March 2021, I kept having a recurring image stuck in my mind, an idea for a painting for when I returned to painting. It was of a canvas transitioning from black at the top evenly to a cool purple at the bottom, in the rainy style, but with a burst of white at the bottom right quarter of the canvas. I couldn’t specify exactly at the time what the image was, but I feel like the darker colors may have been influenced some by the sadness and grief I had been experiencing vividly every day.

So, I chose four colors – ivory black, dioxazine purple, cobalt violet, and white. Keeping my palette simple and my concept simple, I dipped my brush to canvas, and placed thick daubs of paint throughout the canvas, and the image in my head vaguely emerged, final so I could confront it visually and face it. The colors surprised me by how collectively dark they were, as I’m usually a bright-and-saturated-happy colors kind of person. But I allowed my brush to move. I cannot say that there weren’t a few quiet tears that emerged as I painted, it’s just become normal now any time I take a step forwards again.

The emerging image eventually had the feel of a cloudy, almost haunting, cloudy full-moon night over some purple mountains. I didn’t hesitate to use big gobs of black paint, as I no longer will shy away from using straight out black paint, which I had intentionally avoided using in past painting years.

Once the canvas was covered, it was time for me to employ my signature “rain” paintbrush application and smearing of paint using stand oil, pressure and gravity. I dipped my brush in the stand oil, and proceeded to drag the brush from top to bottom, mixing and smearing downwards all the paint from top to bottom, removing much of the paint in the process, leaving a somewhat distorted vision of what was previously painted. It felt good to do this process again. And in a way symbolic. This whole year, and especially the last 6 months, had been looked forward to and planned with some level of great precision, and then the storms of Dad’s pancreatic cancer, just destroyed and distorted all that as my world fell.

I let the canvas continue to drip for a few hours, and I returned to it every couple of hours with a brush to blend in some of the drips, to help others drip further, and to edit out some drips, especially the ones that were encroaching on the white paint, in order to maintain the clarity and impact of that part of the painting. I really loved noticing some of the striations and nuances in the detail of the the mixing, dripping, paint when looked at at close range. After a couple days, the paint stopped dripping, and I was left with the finished painting.

I was a bit surprised by just how dominant the application of the black paint ended up being. I removed some paint towards the bottom of the canvas that helps to show some more of the purple a bit better, but visible only in controlled lighting. In my original vision, the gradation from black to purple was much more even and gradual. I’m thinking of possibly painting this composition again, but this time use less-thick daubs of black paint on the top, and bring the purple mountain “horizon” line up more to halfway. I’m satisfied with how the white “light” kind of feels like a flicker, or a glow, picking up some of the purple around it. Reminds me of a match lit in a dark hallway, a light of hope even in darkness sort of thing.

It may not have turned out the way that I had anticipated or planned (isn’t it rare if anything ever actually does?), but I’m so glad that I’ve picked up the paintbrush again and got it moving again. Stay tuned for more upcoming paintings, now that I’ve started the momentum again of painting.

I’m also in need of suggestions for titles for this painting. Let me know if you have any ideas that strike you!

Interested in purchasing this painting? Click here for more info.

April 2021 Note from Artist Rachel Brask

On October 8, 2020, my most successful gallery exhibit came to a close. “Weathering The Storm” was the show where I set a personal record for most paintings sold in one exhibition! I was very excited, and so proud of how many people connected with my paintings.

On October 11, 2020 I learned that my father had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He stayed with us temporarily while seeking treatment at one of the top hospitals in Boston. I gave up everything, including my art practice, to just try to help with his care and morale the best I could. We tried to make the most new memories that we could, hopeful for a positive prognosis, but aware it could go in either direction, at any time.

In December 2020, shortly before Christmas, my father passed away, after a long two weeks in the hospital. I was fortunate to have been at his side as he took his last breath, along with my mother. My father had always been my light, my rock, my guiding star. He had always supported my artmaking and my dreams to be an artist. In the final days before he was about to pass, we even thought he’d be coming home, so we had cleared out my art studio, to prepare a first-floor room for him to recover in, but everything went downhill so fast.

In the immediate weeks after his passing, mingled with Christmas and New Year’s holidays, everything is just one big blur of grief, exhaustion, dealing with funerary logistics in the middle of a pandemic. My family returned to their homes, my own house now empty of the sounds I had gotten used to in all the chaos. I lived in a state of deep sadness for a couple weeks, weeks turned to months. I had heard about “grief brain” before, but this is the first time that I lived it firsthand, and lost track of time.

I tried to go in the studio a few times, to paint, but it was emotionally just too hard. I couldn’t even pick up a paintbrush without bursting into tears. My dad had used my studio as his own “little office” during the two months he was here, and after it just became a dump spot for other things in the house, so there was no room to paint, even if I had wanted to.

When the warmer temperatures of late February and mid March started blowing into New England, I finally started to peek out from my cozy grief cocoon, and started thinking about and setting goals in motion to start getting back to “normal,” or whatever that will look like. Progressively, I’ve felt a bit better each day, with time and self-care, and the love and outreach of friends and family.

I set a personal goal of getting my art studio back up and running by April 1, 2021. Today is that day. It is my goal to use this next month to reconnect with artmaking, showing in galleries, reconnecting with art students and teaching art classes again, picking up graphic design gigs, just doing the business of art all over again. I invite you to join me in this springtime of art, through sharing art social media posts, recommending my art to friends, dropping messages here and there, buying a painting or print, or booking an art class, or just to connect with what’s been going on in your own life.

The best thing I love about spring is the sprouting of new life through the colors of flower blossoms after the long, cold darkness of the death of winter. April showers bring May showers…so for me and my studio, I’ll be painting these April showers again soon.

Thank you for being a part of this journey.

Weathering The Storm: Solo Exhibit by Rachel Brask at Heartspot

“Weathering the Storm” is a solo show featuring the works of artist Rachel Brask. Prior to this (before the age of COVID), Rachel had recently had showings in Italy to add to her artistic resume.
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Join us for our first gallery show at Heartspot Art Center & Gallery with a public opening reception on Friday night, September 25th from 6-9 PM. Gallery is located at 1970  Pawtucket Ave, East Providence, RI. Exhibit is up September 5-October 9, 2020 during gallery hours or by appointment.
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On this current show, Brask states, “While many see rainy days as sad and gloomy, I see something different during storms. I see how sheets of pouring raindrops cause distortion of the scene beyond, blending colors and shapes together to drip down windowpanes in constant motion. Colors seem a little clearer during rain, and the storm can sometimes interrupt our day, much like how COVID-19 has put our lives on pause. But in these frozen moments, what are you grateful for? What small instances of hope or joy do you embrace, even if your prior expectations were wiped out by the rain, or by the virus? How has the storm changed you?”
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The Gallery Opening Reception will follow the following C19 protocols:
  • No more than 15 people will be allowed in the space at one time.
  • Patrons must be masked, have their temp taken, and wash/sanitize their hands prior to viewing the exhibition.
  • Unless standing with members of your household/small circle, we ask you respect social distancing guidelines with others inside of the space.
  • If you are experiencing any unusual symptoms including fever or a cough, have traveled outside of the country in the two weeks leading up to the reception, or have been in close contact with a person(s) who have tested COVID positive within a week of the event, please do not attend to keep the artist, staff and other patrons safe.
Some prepackaged food will be on hand, and wine will be served. Beverages and food can be consumed either outside the gallery, or while maintaining a distance of at least 6ft from other patrons.
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Free event. Open to the public. Parking and entrances are in the rear of the building. To help us give an advance idea of how many people will be attending, please let us know if you prefer to attend the reception 6-7pm, 7-8pm or 8-9pm by emailing rachel@rachelbraskstudio.com or calling 401-400-0418. We will also attempt to make the exhibit available virtually before the opening reception or with a Facebook Live during the reception.
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If you are unable to attend the opening reception, but would like to see the collection, you may set up a private appointment with Jennifer by calling 401-383-7577 or emailing her at heartspotartcenter@gmail.com.

Art For All Juried Exhibition accepts paintings by Rachel Brask

Gallery Night Providence launched their very first Juried Exhibition, titled “Art for Everyone.”  Amongst the accepted artworks art two paintings by Rachel Brask, both inspired by rainy moments along the Maine coast. The jurors for curating this exhibition are: Donna Parsons of Dryden Gallery/Providence Picture Frame, Munir Mohammed, Elena Calderon Pantino of RISCA, and Kate Kraczon, curator of David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown University.

A Grand Opening & Gallery Night Kickoff event is scheduled for Saturday, February 29, 2-6pm at Sprout CoWorking Gallery, Providence, RI. Award winners from the juried show will be announced. A second reception for March’s Third Thursday (March 19) will also be held at Sprout CoWorking Gallery 5:30-9pm.

The complete list of accepted artists in this exhibition:

Emmett Barnacle
Ellen Biegert
Linda Bonaccorsi
Rachel Brask
Kelly Starspangled Brown
Suzanne Buchanan
Michael Collins
Jessika Davis
Kevin Donnelly
Robert Easton
Eran Fraenkel
Ann-Marie Gillett
Michael Guertin
Harold InDelicato
Michele Keir
Karen McCann
Zachary Prosser
Jane Robbins
Sarah Samways
Angel Smith
Kate Wilson

 

Rachel Brask exhibiting at Gallery175 Paint! exhibit with Jim Bradley and Mary Casale

Paint!: Rachel Brask, Jim Bradley & Mary Casale
Gallery 175, Pawtucket RI

This exhibition explores how each artist uses paint for intriguing effects. Rachel Brask’s work incorporates transparent veils of color within a vertical format. Mary Casale works with lots of thick textures and patterns. Jim Bradley’s art conveys the fluidity of running paint.

Opening Reception Sunday, May 8, 2-3:30pm at Gallery 175, located in Blackstone Valley Visitor Center, 175 Main Street, Pawtucket, RI. Free parking for gallery. Gallery 175 website

Exhibition runs May 7-April 30, 2020. Gallery hours open during Blackstone Valley Visitor Center Hours

Brask to show at AS220 Main Gallery Nov 2018

Rachel Brask and Jennifer Gervais will take over the AS220 Main Gallery with an exhibition of each of their respective works. This exhibition will be on view November 3-24, 2018, with an opening reception on Saturday, Nov. 3rd 5-7pm. 

Rachel will exhibit a selection of oil paintings from her Abstracted Rainy Moments series of paintings inspired by the view through a window during a rainstorm. This exhibition will include the first public gallery showing of 10+ paintings created during her art residency in Maine this past summer. Many of these paintings are inspired by the changing daylight reflected over the harbor in sunrises and sunsets, and through photos she took while exploring Acadia National Park and the harbor.

 

Rachel Brask Artworks soon to be Rachel Brask Studio, LLC

Rachel Brask Artworks will soon be evolving to become Rachel Brask Studio, LLC. This change comes as the next step in the development and direction of the varied creative practices of artist and graphic designer, Rachel Brask. “Calling my creative practice Rachel Brask Studio LLC vs. Rachel Brask Artworks is really about opening the definition of studio,” states Brask. “This will better provide a one-stop hub for my art studio, graphic design studio, photography studio and teaching studio.”

Rachel will be working on rebranding some of her identity materials and logo, and will be reconfiguring how her website works. She plans to officially launch and celebrate this new business name sometime between November and the new year. Stay tuned!

Rachel Brask accepted to Practice/Practice at AS220

AS220 has announced the list of artists and arts organizers accepted to its Fall 2018 session of its arts administration professional development program, Practice/Practice. This four-day conference for those involved in the arts will provide participants a forum for learning best practices in the arts administration field — networking, community outreach, public art, increasing accessibility, marketing and more.

Brask is an abstract artist best known for her current body of oil paintings evoking the impression of viewing rain on a stormy day. She is also involved in several area arts organizations. For Art League Rhode Island, Brask is a board member, secretary, and co-chair of the Communications committee. She is also involved with the Pawtucket Arts Collaborative, Seekonk Artist Network, and East Providence Arts Council. Brask hopes to apply what she learns over the course of this professional development program to her involvement in these organizations.

The 4-day residency program consists of a series of workshops and discussions, presentations by participants and faculty, a tour to visit partner arts organizations, hands-on making sessions in AS220’s Industries and a party. Workshops will include presentations and breakout sessions with AS220 staff and expert visiting faculty, and will allow plenty of time for discussion and debate. In the spirit of Practice//Practice, some workshops also involve working sessions, bringing theoretical discourse into the practical realm.

BankRI Turks Head Gallery to feature Rachel Brask for Gallery Night Providence April 19

You know what they say…April showers bring May flowers! During the month of April our Turks Head Gallery is hosting “Rainy Moments: Paintings by Rachel Brask.” What began as a single moment of inspiration from a window fogged with rain and glimmering with color from the autumn leaves outside has turned into an obsession. Having perfected a technique to emulate the beauty of nature, Rachel’s unique works incorporate thick dots of oil paint aided by viscous stand oil to morph into one-of-a-kind shapes and eye-catching blends of color. While the stand oil requires 72 hours of continuous movement to works its magic, each painting takes several weeks to reach the tacky stage and months to dry completely. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait to see Rachel’s paintings; they’re currently on display during our Gallery hours of: Monday-Wednesday from 8:30am to 4pm, and Thursday/Friday between 8:30am-5pm.

Since being inspired by a window fogged with rain and glimmering with color from the autumn leaves outside, Rachel has spent the last several years perfecting a technique she developed using paint and stand oil to emulate the beauty created by nature. From warm blues melting into cool gray lavenders, to deep rusty browns that dissolve into a warm orange, each of Rachel’s paintings is a study in a field of color.

We’re looking to get your weekend started a little early the week of April 19 week when we host our 2nd Gallery Night Reception of the year Thursday evening, April 19, at Turks Head from 5pm-8:30pm. Featuring “Rainy Moments: Paintings by Rachel Brask,” the night will also include live music from guitarist Mark Armstrong and light refreshments.

While we’re sure you’ve had your fill of rain over the past few days, we promise you’ll enjoy Rachel’s works, which combine oil paint and viscous stand oil to create blends of color that emulate the beauty of nature and ensure no two paintings are alike. We hope to see you Thursday, but if you can’t make it, please remember that Rachel’s paintings will be on display until May 2nd.

ARTBORETUM: the creative cultivations of Rachel Brask, Virginia Purviance & Shawndavid Berry

ARTboretum DeBlois Pcard ImageThe combined work of Rachel Brask, Shawndavid Berry, and Virginia Purviance call up garden-inspired artwork in ARTBORETUM. Continue reading

Rachel Brask to Exhibit at BankRI Galleries March-April 2018

After a recent studio visit by curator Paula Martesian, several of my paintings from the Abstracted Rainy Moments body of artwork for a two month solo exhibition in two BankRI gallery spaces. Continue reading

Accepted to Edgewood Farm for Artist Residency

I am excited to announce that I’ve received notice of my acceptance into an artist residency at Edgewood Farm, in Truro, MA, for a two week residency. Continue reading

Rachel Brask Exhibiting at DeBlois Gallery with

Rachel Brask will be part of a three-person exhibition at DeBlois Gallery in Newport, RI,  along with Virginia Purviance and Shawndavid Berry. Join us for the opening reception on Saturday, April 7,  2018, 5-7pm. Continue reading

Accepted into 31st RI Open Juried Exhibition at Warwick Center for the Arts

I’m excited to hear news from the Warwick Center for the Arts that two of my paintings, “Rainy Moment 08 (Forested Mountains in Rain)” and “Rainy Moment 15 (Lakeside Mountain Rain)” have been accepted into the 31st Annual RI Open Juried Exhibition! The exhibit will run September 13 – November 2, 2017. Date of the opening reception TBA. Both of these paintings are from a body of work I’ve work I’ve been developing over the past year called “Abstracted Rainy Moments.”

EPAC Members Inaugural Show

©Rachel Brask, Rainy Moment 13 (Open Ocean Rain). Oil on canvas. 40"x30".

I am pleased to join nine other members of the East Providence Arts Council for the EPAC Members Inaugural Show, exhibiting in the front gallery of the HeARTspot Art Center & Gallery (1942 Pawtucket Ave., East Providence, RI).

Join us for the opening reception on Thursday, September 14, 6-8pm. Light refreshments provided.

In this show, I have two pieces: Rainy Moment 13 (Open Ocean Rain), and Autumn Trio.

 

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