Jean Bradbury (www.jeanbradbury.com) explains, "I paint dreamscapes of plants and animals filled with the wonder of nature. My work celebrates the small and gentle aspects of our world and of our own characters. Moody skies glow at the end of the day. Small, creatures gaze thoughtfully at the world around them. Petals float through the air from blossoms overhead. Many images use gold, silver, and copper leaf to reflect light. Growing up on an organic farm in rural Canada I learned a love of nature that I express in my images of thoughtful solitude. I create large scale commissioned work for hospitals, restaurants and schools as well as private commissions."
What art do you most identify with?
I recently saw what must be my favourite painting - Roger van der Weyden’s deposition at the Prado. Such pure story telling. Such a clear message about humanity and how the tangible creates the emotional. The gentle attention to detail of the Northern Renaissance speaks about nurturing rather than bravado. I also love pre Renaissance painting for it’s simple shapes and use of gold. I like how straight-forward the message is. It is not about the artist being a macho hero. It is about the story. Having said that I think that Van Gogh may have been the greatest painter to have lived. I wish I had his tireless passion for observation. And Picasso, despite being a total prick, was a genius. Sometimes I try to be a little more arrogant in my goals and think of him.
How do you describe your work and how do you talk to a potential buyer? Give us the elevator pitch.
I paint dreamscapes of plants and animals filled with the intimacy of nature. My work celebrates the small and gentle aspects of our world and of our own characters. Many images use gold, copper, and silver leaf to reflect light. I often paint images of thoughtful solitude in a small scale though lately I have enjoyed creating large scale commissioned work for hospitals, restaurants and schools.
Where can people find you hanging out?
I don’t leave home much while I am in Seattle. My studio is in my back garden and it has a roof deck where I sit in the summer and watch the sun set over the Olympic Mountains. I also rent a house and studio near the Dead Sea in Jordan where I teach art to farm women and Syrian refugees. My need for solitude is put to the test there as everyone is so friendly!
If you could own a work of art by any living artist, what would it be (or whose)?
Though her work is different from mine I would love to own a piece from Fay Jones whom I consider to be Seattle’s best living painter. Or a massive John Hartman landscape as a nod to my home country of Canada. And I loved the recent show of Lucinda Parker landscapes at Linda Hodges gallery. In a different vein I would like to own an Andrea Kowch for inspiration. She paints great chickens.
What is your favorite museum in Seattle?
I like the Frye when I need to remind myself of the craft of Victorian painting. And SAM of course. The new MOHaI is great. I like to visit the naked mole rats at the science center. And I love the wrought iron gates at the Asian SAM.
What is the best home for your art?
Since I work almost entirely on commission I want my art to be specific to the client. If it is a private sale the piece should speak in intimate and personal terms to the client’s memories, dreams and values. I love working with clients who care deeply about the imagery and want to collaborate to create something symbolic and meaningful. The same applies to public art. I enjoy researching the local specific imagery to tell an intimate story.
What is often overlooked about your work?
I have taken a risk in my career by intentionally painting images of sentimentality and quiet intimacy. I realize I could have made more of a stir and a quicker name for myself by sticking to the tried and true bravado of abstraction or depictions of people in shocking situations. I feel, though, that the world needs to honour the small and the vulnerable. The more I see of the suffering of people in situations of war and poverty, the more I learn of the plight of domesticated animals in factory farms, the more I grieve over the carelessness of humans toward each other and the planet, the more I want to avoid depictions of carelessness. And I even avoid the carelessness of faux naiveté in my painting style though I know that it is trendy. I choose to celebrate slowness, nurturing and craft. I do not even shy away from the easily ridiculed art of painting pet portraiture because I see it as a celebration of love and positivity. These choices make it hard to get reviewed and hard to be taken seriously by those who don’t understand my story. I see it as a feminist choice in a way as the values I depict in my painting are those that are traditionally seen as feminine – nurturing, vulnerability, beauty, smallness and the symbols of emotional intimacy.
- PORT ANGELES FINE ART CENTER , (Port Angeles, WA) 2014
- MILLER’S ART , (Carnation, WA) 2013
- EARTHUES GALLERY , (Seattle, WA) 2007
- KIRKLAND ART CENTER , (Kirkland WA) 2014
- ADOBE GALLERY , (Seattle WA) 2014
- LUCIA DOUGLAS GALLERY , (Bellingham, WA) 2011
- CONFLUENCE GALLERY , (Twisp, WA) 2011
- ARTS WEST , (West Seattle) 2010 AND 2011
- Eliot and Vine Restaurant, (Halifax, NS) 2016
- Washington State Arts Commission (Clover Creek Elementary School, Frederickson WA) 2014
- Macrina Cafe, (Queen Anne, Seattle) 2013
- Starbucks, (Taiyuan, China) 2013
- Peace Health St Joseph Medical Center (Bellingham, WA) 2011