“A Day in the Life” with local Toronto Artist David Brown

To visit David Brown’s studio is to slip through the looking glass into a magical space where ideas and observation blend, becoming something marvellous and new in the process.

From small drawings to large canvases, his imagery presents itself with a cohesive authority, resonating at once a childlike joy and an engineer’s exactitude. The encaustic paintings are the precognitive dreams of 20th century abstract expressionism: sharp-edged geometric shapes and lines float above translucent fields of gestural scribbles, as if the artist’s conscious thoughts are clouds scudding above the surface of a boiling subconscious sea.

The monumental work is displayed alongside small collections of found items, from delicate crystals and battered pieces of wood to the wound-up innards of a baseball. These are sacred objects, and pair perfectly with the paintings which become stained-glass windows to an invisible temple of the mind.

Brown is an alchemist in the classical sense, using the furnace of the imagination to create gold from the humblest of materials. He invites us to share his secrets, even if he refrains from telling us exactly what they are.

-Aaron Leighton, a very dear friend and fellow artist.

David Brown - When I am not in my studio, I am usually with my son at the ball park. We spend many hours practicing, driving and spending time together. I will always cherish these memories. This is a photo of my son hitting his very first home run - I am sure he will remember this day for the rest of his life.
David Brown – When I am not in my studio, I am usually with my son at the ball park. We spend many hours practicing, driving and spending time together. I will always cherish these memories. This is a photo of my son hitting his very first home run – I am sure he will remember this day for the rest of his life.
David Brown - My family has a cottage on Georgian Bay.  The original cottage was built by my great grandfather, my son is the 5th generation coming here.  It is a beautiful and rugged place that has shaped who I am and how I see the world.  This photo was take this August and shows the Northern lights shinning above the white pine horizon.
My family has a cottage on Georgian Bay. The original cottage was built by my great grandfather, my son is the 5th generation coming here. It is a beautiful and rugged place that has shaped who I am and how I see the world. This photo was take this August and shows the Northern lights shinning above the white pine horizon.
David Brown - We live in the middle of the largest city in Canada, but our backyard in a quiet oasis that has been an endless source of inspiration and restoration.  I have planted many perennial vines, decorative grasses, and shrubs which create an ocean of lush green textures.  Shown in this photos is a bee collecting pollen from my climbing hydrangea.  The creamy white flowers have an intoxicating fragrance and every spring the flowers buzz loudly as the bees work diligently.
We live in the middle of the largest city in Canada, but our backyard in a quiet oasis that has been an endless source of inspiration and restoration. I have planted many perennial vines, decorative grasses, and shrubs which create an ocean of lush green textures. Shown in this photos is a bee collecting pollen from my climbing hydrangea. The creamy white flowers have an intoxicating fragrance and every spring the flowers buzz loudly as the bees work diligently.
David Brown - I am truly blessed to have an amazing studio.  This space is my sanctuary.  I come here every day to work, think and create.
I am truly blessed to have an amazing studio. This space is my sanctuary. I come here every day to work, think and create.
David Brown - I fill my studio with many things to help me with my creative process.  Books, found objects, photos I have taken for inspiration.  These crystals help me to ground and balance my space and enhance the energy.
David Brown – I fill my studio with many things to help me with my creative process. Books, found objects, photos I have taken for inspiration. These crystals help me to ground and balance my space and enhance the energy.
I make my own encaustic medium and paint.  The ancient recipe is very easy.  Beeswax, Damar Resin, and powdered pigments.
I make my own encaustic medium and paint. The ancient recipe is very easy. Beeswax, Damar Resin, and powdered pigments.
Here I am making an Encaustic Monotype.  The coloured beeswax paint is melted on a heated surface.  The molten wax is then manipulated with silicone tools to create lines and textures.  Once the composition is complete absorbent paper is placed on top of the plate and the image is transferred to the paper.
Here I am making an Encaustic Monotype. The coloured beeswax paint is melted on a heated surface. The molten wax is then manipulated with silicone tools to create lines and textures. Once the composition is complete absorbent paper is placed on top of the plate and the image is transferred to the paper.
Getting ready for a show and the work is starting to pileup!
David Brown – Getting ready for a show and the work is starting to pileup!

What ‘hood are you in?

Parkdale in Downtown Toronto.

What do you do?

I am an abstract encaustic painter. I also make encaustic monotypes. I love to take photographs.

Encaustic painting, is an ancient art form and was practised by artists as far back as the 5th century B.C.. The word encaustic comes from the Greek language and means “to burn in”, which refers to the process of fusing the paint. The technique uses heated wax to which coloured pigments are added. The molten wax is applied to a firm surface–usually prepared wood, paper or canvas.

Encaustic has a long history, but it is as versatile as any 20th century medium. Brushes are used to apply and shape the wax before it cools, then it can be polished to a high gloss, it can be modelled, sculpted, textured, and combined with collage materials. The wax cools immediately, so that there is no drying time, yet it can always be reworked. Encaustic paintings do not have to be varnished or protected by glass.

“But will it melt on a hot day?”

I get asked this question all the time. The answer is No. The working temperature for the liquid wax is 225 degrees, so unless you are living in an oven the work will be fine hanging in your living room. But, just like any artwork, it is not a good idea to keep it in an area where it will be exposed to direct sunlight or extreme temperatures.

Encaustic Monotypes are one of a kind non-repeatable prints. It is an elegant process were pigmented wax is melted on a heated metal surface and then transferred to a sheet of paper. No printing press is required just wax, heat, paper and gentle hand pressure. These four variables allow endless and unpredictable results. The compositions evolve by adding and subtracting elements using customized silicone scrapers and brushes. The final results combine the directness and immediacy of traditional printmaking with the richness and luminosity of the encaustic medium.

What are you currently working on?

I have a solo show coming up in November at Liberty Arts in Toronto. I am busy getting ready for this exhibition where I will show a mixture of my paintings and monotypes.

This collection manifests itself in tactile amalgams of strength, beauty and 21st century self expression. Using gestures, lines and geometric forms to convey actions and emotions, I layers many single elements creating a visual symphony. The encaustic medium offers varied surfaces, translucent dimensions and lustrous colours all combined to emanate feelings of passion and energy.

Where can we find your work?

Liberty Arts
November 5-28, 2019

Opening Reception:
Thu, Nov 7, 6:30-10:30pm

25 Atlantic Avenue, Toronto

Gallery Hours:
Mon-Fri, 10am-6pm

www.libertyarts.ca

Or better yet, come visit me at my studio and I can show you my process.

 

 

Joel Levy
About Joel Levy 1749 Articles
Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography