Artist Heidi Brueckner explores the quirky personalities of her subjects in delightful mixed media portraits. Learn more and see her portfolio on her website.
I am a lifelong Californian and have been living in Oakland since 1997. I became serious about art in college after a year studying abroad in Germany. After being an art history major for a long time, I realized I was just making excuses not to be a studio art major too! I ended up double majoring in art and art history, which was one of the best decisions of my life.
As the daughter of a college professor, I was always inspired to teach. Now, in addition to becoming a painter, I have been a tenured Professor of Art at West Valley College in Saratoga, California for over twenty years. This suits me because I love people and I thrive on being immersed in a community of creatives.
I believe most of us are interested in other people, because of their personality traits, actions, or outward appearance. My work is inspired by this curiosity. I enjoy analyzing human behavior and interaction. My paintings use both archetypes and portraiture as a way to study human nature, usually incorporating an element of social commentary.
The archetypes play roles in humorous allegories about morality, environmentalism and cultural norms. They have taken form in such prior series as “The Arcana Shuffle” (larger-than-life figurative works based on tarot cards), and “Monsterbet” (a series of thirteen 16” x 32” oil and mixed media diptychs which spoofs a children’s alphabet book).
I also enjoy nodding to the margins of society and contemplating the precarious and dark aspects of humankind.
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The portraits are more individualistic narratives which explore personality through self-presentation, facial expressions, and gesture. The work often inspects the under-revered, and appreciates the subject’s presence and dignity, giving pause to honor the person.
All of these interests seem to require, and in fact dictate, an expressive use of paint and frontal, discomforting, and intrusive compositions to achieve psychological expression. I revel in playing with symbolism, mixed media, heavy texture, bright, invented color, elaborate patterning, exaggerated space and distortion in order to enhance visual activity and conceptual impact.
Since the pandemic, I have worked solely on portraiture. Time with friends and loved ones is precious or limited and the calling to capture them has been strong. It has also become important to include people I have met through traveling in this series.
The subject has grown even more important now that I am unable to see people, and I really feel the need to study their faces and expressions. I now see the topic as solidified in my psyche and believe it will drive a large part of my work for the foreseeable future.
I paint from life, from imagination, or from personal photos sometimes combined with other visual reference material. Innumerable artists have inspired my work. Some of my favorites are Alice Neel, Lucien Freud, Gustav Klimt, Otto Dix, Hope Gangloff, Hung Liu, Bisa Butler, Nick Cave and Edward Gorey.
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