Monday, July 2, 2012


As ecology is the engine that drives evolution, so is it the motivating force behind my work. As a visual artist, I'm concerned with form, but as a naturalist it's function that fascinates me, and my work explores the relationship between the two. When I select a subject, I typically try to find a way to display as articulately as I can the qualities that make that species unique, and how those qualities function in an ecological setting. Every technical aspect of the painting – composition, palette, scale, etc., hopefully serve to emphasize this point. The motivation of the subject is an essential component of this process, and making this motivation clear to the viewer is an important objective. Each work in this exhibition is accompanied by a short statement that adds the kind of thematic detail for which painting is poorly suited.

Acrylic is my primary medium, and the one I understand the best. Each painting begins with a series of pencil sketches which eventually lead to a rather detailed pencil drawing, which is enlarged and traced onto the substrate, usually illustration board. A complete underpainting in raw umber establishes the forms and textures, and colors are added to build a sense of space and mood. This process can be observed in the time-lapse film clips. For concepts requiring a rougher look, I prefer oil paints, and for black and white I enjoy washes of India ink.

As human impact on the natural world increases, our routine awareness of that world and our active participation in its processes diminish. But whether it's visible to us or not, our lives are irrevocably dovetailed into the vibrating matrix of nature. It's my hope that the little stories told in my paintings might awaken in the viewer a heightened sensitivity to the tiny ripples broadcast throughout that natural matrix by every one of its components.

C. P. Brest van Kempen

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