photo of Julie Brookman ARTIST

Julie Brookman

I am a California native and graduate of San Francisco State University, where I studied Fine Art. I have explored many mediums throughout my career: photography, sculpture, glass blowing and, most recently, encaustic painting. The consistent theme in my work is use of materials that are inherently difficult to master. Fluid and malleable materials reflect a need for spontaneous expression, surrendering control to the materials and my own instinct. My art is both a purposeful act and a total relinquish of control to the process. In essence, controlled chaos.

After graduating, I lived for several years in Southeast Asia, working as a scuba instructor. My experiences living abroad were formative in the themes of my latest work. Driven by an intuitive aesthetic and need for organic expression, I use encaustic paint and found materials to capture our sense of movement and place in the changing world around us. Focusing on layering, transparency, repetition, and movement, the artwork forms of its own volition, but has an intuitive aesthetic that I hope transports the viewer to their own sense of place.

Capriccio: En Noir Et Blanc

In Spring of 2017, artist Peter Foley made a short film documenting my work with encaustic.

Essay by Michael Pauker

"Julie Brookman has given her recent paintings the title, Saudade. Though this Portuguese word is notoriously difficult to translate, the English word, nostalgia, may come closest. The two ideas that seem to crop up in all definitions of Saudade are 1. a yearning for something in the past, and 2. a keen awareness of ephemerality. I take the time to parse this word because so much of the energy that is in Brookman’s paintings seems to flow from these ideas. She has found a way to freeze the pounding surf, to make time, and sea foam, stand still, and in the process of looking at the results we are somehow made aware of the impossibility of the task at hand, for the more we stare at the hypnotically complex and unendingly irregular patterns of waves, the more aware we are that to watch something in the act of becoming, or of dissolving, is only to remember what it looked like a moment ago, which is to say that seeing is an agency of memory. And so, as we take these paintings in, as we give ourselves over to pouring across their surfaces, to tracking unspooled tendrils of sea foam traceries, to leap-frogging over hitherto unknown archipelagos too multifarious to take in in one pass, to scaling fields of molten lava flows, we begin to realize the true subject of Brookman’s project, and a most Saudade-like concept indeed, to whit, the evanescence of existence. The most recent of these paintings turn away from the surf, and it’s collision with the land, and abandon any obvious direct referents in favor of mystery; these latter paintings could conceivably be construed as the surface of metallic planets, or as vast oil slicks, but on the wall they present themselves with an authority that requires no further gloss.

The creation of the paintings involves more elemental processes than the usual picture requires. Brookman works in encaustic, a medium of ancient provenance which involves hot wax as a binder for pigment. The paint must be heated at various stages of application in order to make it able to be brushed and manipulated. In addition to heating pans of color on a hot plate, Brookman employs a variety of torches to heat and re-heat the surface of the painting. Aspects of the process are inherently uncontrollable, and instead require an ability to allow the painting to unfold on its own. Drastic changes can occur over large areas quite quickly, so the artist must be alert to nuances of timing as she wields her industrial torch in great sweeps across the surface."