Brett Varney

"Colour is a power that directly influences the soul."

Artist Statement

My inspiration is born from the works of Matisse, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Kandinsky and others. I am fascinated by the ability of intense color and texture of line to convey an emotional expression from the artist to the viewer. I create images that are recognizable to welcome the viewer into the scene. By using vivid color, freedom of line, and simplicity of shapes, I try to instill in the viewer feelings of joy and well being which are within us all, but often need coaxing. I draw with oil pastels because it makes me feel good and energized, and I want the viewer to experience that same energy energized, and I want the viewer to experience that same energy around the shapes are deliberate and necessary and intend only to define and intensify the emotion of my work. I do not work from photos as my imagery is taken from either a memory, or an impression, or creative thought. I wish my work to be viewed as how I see it in my mind’s eye, not from a lens.

Artist Story

I started working professionally in the arts about a year after I graduated fom the University of Washington (Seattle) in 1988. My first creative works were hand-pulled serigraphs (or silk-screen prints). I do not recall how many actual images I created, but I hand-printed and sold my serigraphs until 1996. It was at that time I finally realized that all those printing inks, thinning solvents and screen cleaning chemicals were extremely toxic and very harmful to my health. So I turned to what I have always found enjoyable - drawing. Creating screens to print through required my drawing of course, but silk-screening did not allow me to be spontaneous with colour and texture. Every serigraph I produced was totally planned out in advance. There was not room to change an idea in mid-stream. So I looked for a drawing medium that was still hands-on and intense in color. I had purchased a set of oil pastels but had not yet found the time to experiment with them; I was still printing serigraphs - I had to make a living of course.

The event that prompted me to work with the oil pastels full-time was the following: I had loaded up my truck to go to an art festival to sell over the weekend in Corvallis ,OR. I arrived in Corvallis on time and proceeded to check into my hotel. They did not have my reservation, but they discovered they had booked me for the following weekend. No problem, there were plenty of rooms. I then went to the show site to start setting up and saw not a soul. No spaces were marked and there was no staff around to answer questions. I finally dawned on me that I drove down on the wrong weekend! I turned around and drove home. So there I was, completely ready for this show, all my book keeping was caught up, and all my orders were filled. So finding myself with a completely open week, I decided to finally experiment with the oil pastels that I bought. I almost immediately discovered that I loved to work with the oil pastels. I could not believe that it took me so long to figure that out.

I fell in love with the colours and the feeling of freedom to be able to add spontaneity to my work. Using black paper as the background to my drawings occured right away, since I was already silk-screening on it and I had 100's of sheets. Also, as it turns out, the black paper I had been printing on, I discovered, was a paper designed to be used by pastel artists. My work has grown quite a bit since I first started silk-screening and even since I first started to draw with the pastels.The style that you see is uniquely me. It is my natural drawing style. I do not work from photos. I discovered early on that if I see a photo, I will try to make my image look like the photo. One, I do not do that very well and two, I do not wish to create realistic drawings. If I just let myself freely draw what I see in my mind's eye, I believe that my energy is fully expressed in the finished work. This is what I wish to portray and for the viewer to experience.

An interesting side note about my unique style, is that I can see the definite effect that the years of creating serigraphs has my oil pastel work. Serigraphs have very sharp edges to color areas because you print through stencils. I became accustom to the look.