Waiting For This To Pass with Adrian Landon Brooks July 11 2021

Adrian Landon Brooks is an artist living and working in Texas, USA. Known for his desert folk art imbued with striking colours and melancholic symbolism, Adrian often explores the universal themes of love, loss and redemption. He works predominantly in the mediums of painting and illustration, using found materials such as wood, metal, and old photographs as his canvas. Adrian lives in the woods with his wife and daughter.

Interview by Viet-My Bui. Photos supplied by Adrian Landon Brooks.

What moments in your childhood, adolescence and adulthood shaped your creative journey and brought you to this very moment?

I spent my formative years painting graffiti and I see now those times really shaped my creative direction. I was never trying to blend the visual styles but those experiences taught me color, composition and a general sense of urgency. I might not be painting in the streets nowadays but I'm still painting bold, bright and concise imagery.

Take us through the process creating an artwork: from finding the right piece to repurpose, preparing it, and making a painting.

My materials usually dictate my creative direction. I spend time climbing through burn piles at sawmills, junk shops and antique stores. I am looking for a piece that inspires me and my job is to honor that object with imagery that is complimentary. I would like to think that my artwork adds to the history of the objects I am painting. I tend to keep the repurposed objects and wood pretty raw. The last thing I want to do is strip the patina that makes the piece special.

You have a very consistent colour palette throughout your impressive body of work. What draws you to using these colours?

I historically deal with some melancholy imagery so the bright pastels always felt like a good contrast. I typically use whatever color combination soothes my brain on that given day.

Describe your workspace to us. Would you make any changes to it?

I have a home studio loft nestled between the tree tops. It's a little small but I’m generally painting on a drafting table so I don’t need as much wall space as a traditional art studio. My ultimate goal is to build a stand alone studio structure on our property and possibly host some artist residences.

Mystical symbolism, folk art and religious iconography are tenets of your creative practice. Your works include anthropomorphised animals, characters interacting with the natural world, and abstract shapes. What are your favourite forms of symbolism, and what do they represent in your work?

The symbolism in my work rarely has a definitive purpose or intent. I think I am subconsciously collecting these pieces of the puzzle in my head and placing them where I think is fitting in the paintings. I am more often trying to create a mood to the work than have the symbols or imagery represent something specific. In general I would like my work to show universal themes of love, loss and redemption.

Your body of work is prolific – I'm curious how you structure your creative practice. What does a work week look like for you? What do you do when you're not feeling inspired?

My work week is generally very structured and similar to a 9–5 job. I have a 5 year old daughter so my wife and I have to be flexible and work around her schedule. I love having a kiddo but I had to become much more structured with my creative time. I work during the day and those tasks vary depending on the week. Some weeks it's all painting but I also spend plenty of time drafting proposals, sending invoices, preparing shipments, etc. You have to wear lots of hats if you’re going to be a full time working artist.

My trick for lulls in inspiration is to take advantage of those streams of inspiration when I have them. I will sketch out as many paintings as I can on those days so that I have some drafted work laying around on the days I’m exhausted. This works for me because I can just work on some pattern or color block painting on the tough days.

You create smaller artworks as well as mural paintings. What creative avenue would you like to explore next?

I have a fair bit of carpentry experience just through building projects on our homestead. I am hoping to include this skill set a bit more in my studio work. This might look like a more assemblage approach to my paintings or wood sculptures.

You have an upcoming show here at Outré Gallery title This Too Shall Pass. What is the concept behind the show? Did you do any research or preparation for the show, or did it come about organically?

'This Too Shall Pass': I know that might be a little bit on the nose, but those words were my mantra during the pandemic. My family and I live in the woods so were used to being home most of the time but the lockdowns were a whole other level of isolation. We are all very close to our extended family so it was especially hard for us to not see loved ones. These pieces were a lifesaver for me because I had somewhere to focus all that nervous energy. I think the level of detail and pattern work shows just how stir crazy I was while painting. This body of work will be a great documentation of my family’s personal struggle during a global pandemic.

Describe an adventure you've embarked with your family and how it has impacted your art practice.

We are very close and very much a team. We always travel together when heading to openings and painting murals. In 2019 we took a road trip across the country for a show I had opening in San Fransisco. We decided to take the long way and stop everywhere. The trip came directly after some health issue in our family so it felt amazing to be on the open road with the most important people in my life. We spent a few weeks just enjoying the journey together.

Having a family was honestly scary to me when I was younger because I was led to believe my art was going to suffer in some way. I remember looking up to self destructive artists whose core inspiration seemed to be grief or self-induced ailments. I basically thought you had to suffer for your work to be authentic or credible. The last 10+ years have proven that old trend is complete bullshit. I have never been more inspired than looking into my daughter's eyes, and my wife completely changed my life. I have an unquenchable drive that never existed before these two were in my life. As long as I have my little team I will be alight.