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Daily Inspiration: Meet Brad Teare

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brad Teare.

Hi Brad, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I started my career as a woodcut artist doing illustrations for clients in New York City. While living in the Hudson Valley, I evolved a painterly style of woodcut printing while simultaneously falling in love with the landscape.

A few years earlier, I visited a Van Gogh exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum. I was awestruck by the physical quality of the paint. I loved texture, one of the reasons I made woodcuts, and I connected with Van Gogh’s savage virtuosity.

My technique didn’t achieve full fruition until I adopted the palette knife as my primary painting tool. Using the palette knife, I finally absorbed the essence of the woodcut technique, literally using a knife in both cases. Metaphorically, I use the knife to carve strokes of vibrant, multi-hued color.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Painting with thick texture hasn’t been easy, and many peers and mentors in my early career advised me against it. But the thick strokes in paintings by Van Gogh, Birger Sanzén, and others struck a deep chord with me, and I knew I had to discover the mysteries of the technique.

I don’t disparage thinner forms of painting. My late wife, Debra Teare, was a highly accomplished trompe l’oeil painter, and thick paint would destroy the effect she accomplished. Nor do I find any virtue in simply applying fat strokes of paint. Texture has to make sense and work within the overall context of the painting. Above all, the paint must ring true to my inner motivation and vision – giving free rein to the full energy and rhythm of the scene.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I played drums in a rock band in my earlier years. During one performance, we played an original composition with exceptional finesse. When we finished the song, the audience, usually rather raucous, sat in silence for a moment and then gave us a standing ovation. I’m sure the other guys were thinking, “rock and roll!” I was thinking, “I want to do that with paint one day.”

In my painting career, I struggled to try to fuse the energy of my woodcuts with my painting. I finally started painting white on a black gessoed canvas for my preliminary drawing. If you saw a photo of the finished underpainting, you would swear it was a black and white woodcut.

So beneath my paintings surges the rhythm and energy of a woodcut. The technique also allows me to separate my process into the more intellectual aspects of line and composition from the emotional, spontaneous act of applying paint.

I work on the underpainting until I’m sure the composition is working, repainting with black gesso if necessary, and repainting with white. When the underpainting is correct, I paint the final colors in one spontaneous session, usually fine-tuning edges and shapes the next day while the paint is still wet. When the paint begins to dry, the painting is finished.

Have you learned any interesting or important lessons due to the Covid-19 Crisis?
During the covid-19 crisis, I learned the importance of persistence. It’s okay to think about promotion and expanding one’s reach occasionally. But it’s getting into the studio and doing the work that will advance your career more than anything else. Steve Martin said, “be so good they can’t ignore you.” I think that’s good advice for artists as well. During covid, I initially started worrying about how to compensate for lost shows and closed galleries. But then I gradually shifted to just getting into the studio and painting–trying to do my best every day. It was good therapy and kept me moving forward. In the end, I had enough inventory to start an advertising campaign that more than compensated for the lost revenue.

I also started doing the occasional Instagram broadcast. They were fun to record and brought in an energizing component to studio work when I needed some social interaction. I certainly won’t broadcast every painting, but it’s certainly something I will continue to do occasionally in the future.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Portrait shot by amyelizabeth.photo. All other photos by the artist.

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