Article Published: Aug. 9, 2012 | Modified: Aug. 11, 2012
Stephen Brooks is an artist who knows a thing or two about wood.
Whether it be strolling through the woods, painting fantastic images of trees, or creating wooden frames for his paintings, wood is a recurring theme in his life and work.
Several of Brooks’ latest paintings of trees and landscapes are part of a new exhibit in Blowing Rock, called “Light in the Forest.”
An artist’s reception for the new exhibit will be held at Art and Artifacts on Friday, Aug. 10, from 5 to 7 p.m. The reception is part of this Friday’s Sunset Stroll in Blowing Rock.
“I’ve been a furniture designer for 20 years and a painter for 30 years,” Brooks said. “I’ve gone to the Far East on numerous occasions to design furniture for companies.”
A Hickory native, Brooks utilizes his furniture making skills while making large and colorful landscapes.
“I paint on boards, and I like to build up layers of paint and then sand them down,” Brooks said. “It gives the paintings depth and a three-dimensional effect. I build my own frames for the paintings, and some of them can be quite heavy.”
Brooks first studied biology at Washington and Lee University before pursuing a career as an artist.
“When I was at Washington and Lee, I met a teacher who just recently passed away named I-Hsiung Ju,” Brooks said. “In addition to teaching me incredible things about art, he taught me about philosophy, Confucianism and cooking. He was simply mind-blowing.”
Later, Brooks attended UNC-Greensboro as a graduate student and studied art under Andrew Martin and Walter Barker.
“Andrew Martin was a pretty important teacher in my life; he was an avid colorist,” Brooks said. “For a while, I worked for the artist, Peter Agostini. Peter was a famous sculptor in the 1950s. Peter taught me to have energy in may paintings, how to flow and have power in my lines.”
Brooks also cites the work of artists Pierre Bonnard and Paul Gauguin as being influential to his style.
For the new exhibit at Art and Artifacts, Brooks will display seven new large paintings and six smaller ones. In addition to showing his work at Art and Artifacts, Brooks has some paintings hanging at the Mellow Mushroom and Café Gouda restaurants in Hickory. He is also heavily involved with the Hickory art scene and works with the Hickory Museum of Art, using his carpentry skills to make racks, carts and kiosks.
“I’m now on the acquisition committee at the Hickory Museum of Art,” Brooks said. “They have an incredible collection of works by Hudson River School painters and the Penland School.”
Art and Artifacts is located at 159 Sunset Drive in downtown Blowing Rock. For more information, call (828) 414-9402.