An Interview with Autumn Nicole Brown on Cafe Macabre and the Artistic Process

autumn nicole browns art

1.) How long have you been creating artistic pieces?

Well, my mother tells me I was painting before I could talk and I started talking before I was 11 months. So…just about 40 years.

2.) Tell me about the piece you’ve contributed to this collection. I love to hear about the process.

autumn nicole browns art practice

I read my story several times. I am very visual person so immediately visualized the story as I read it. With each read through I picked up several new details. I had several different ideas but most felt as if they “told” too much. I wanted to convey more than just information on the details of the story. One of the things that the story left me with was a hollow sad feeling. So with my composition I wanted to evoke that somewhat. I wanted to depict the character in one of her most desperate moments that might be visually (in someone’s mind) overlooked. Yet, also one that could be a real moment in someone’s life. All of that but in a very convoluted way. It’s never a linear process. Then came the sketch. I use photos for reference so I took those with my model and then I painted the painting. 

3.) What’s the most challenging thing you’ve worked on, and what made it so?
I painted portraits of my oldest two daughters. That’s a hard thing to do. Capture their actual personality, as well as their visual likeness. Still not sure what I think of those paintings.

4.) What is your first piece of art that you’ve created?

The earliest piece I have is one I made around age 3. It’s a self portrait of me running naked, screaming from a bath tub. No. I do not remember why I painted that but if you want I can find the painting and show you it in all its awesomeness.

5.) What’s your favorite medium and why?

autumn promo2

This is a hard question also! I work in multiple mediums. I create large scale dress and conceptual work out of paper mache. Mix media pieces. I’m going to start experimenting with printmaking. I love them all. But when I hold a brush, that’s when I feel I am using my hand/arm the way I was created to be. It’s as if my body sighs in relief. That’s a weird answer.

6.) Do you have any rituals or quirks when you’re creating?

I definitely drink too much coffee. These things have changed since I’ve had kids because I feel I can’t be as picky. I have to just get stuff finished. I also don’t like talking while I’m painting. I get lost in my work and talking distracts me. I kick my kids out of my studio as soon as they start asking questions.

7.) What other projects do you have coming up?

I haven’t folded laundry in about a month, so there’s that. I want to study printmaking more. I’ve also had this painting of Ophelia dancing around in my head I need to get onto canvas. I wanted the rest of the year to be a time for me to experiment and do what I want.

8.) What song would you play as the piece you created for this collection, and why?

Because I have to work on stuff once everyone is a sleep, I have to find a way to stay awake. I end up listening to upbeat dance (techno crap per my husband, but it’s really not techno) music to keep me awake. I use to listen to jazz but now that’s too chill and I would simply lie down on my studio floor and pass out. Music does not match the painting’s subject matter. BUT…if I were to pour myself a drink and view the painting I would probably choose Chopin’s Nocturne No. 20 in C Sharp.

9.) Who is your favorite artist, or the artist who has most influenced you?

Ohhhh, this one is really hard to answer. I attended and worked for SCAD (in Savannah, GA) for several years. During this time I was surrounded by hundreds, if not thousands of artist and designers from all walks of life, ages, mediums, etc. I can honestly look back and see how I gleamed a little from each one. I believe that every creator (a borrowed word for someone who creates in some fashion, i.e. visual art, writing, dancing, etc) who enters our life teaches us something, or at least we should allow it. Even if it is what not to do. I could write a book on this. I’d need a good editor though I have been taught so much from hundreds of creators. The simple answer would be for painting that I study mark making and brush strokes from Sargent as well as Mucha’s from his Slavic Epic. Lighting from Hopper. The subject of Cassatt and then the “glitz” of Klimt. 

10.) What advice would you give to new artists?

I think I would address the female artist. No matter if they end up married or with kids or single and carefree, whatever life style you choose or that chooses you. Because if you’re not careful one will choose you. You cannot let your ritual, your habits, your ideas of what your creating style and time should look like control when you create. It will be ever evolving. If you are not careful you will end up waiting for the perfect time to create. One that feels right. One that is hours upon hours of creating. One that has the makings of being the best creative session ever. One where the muses dance in your heart. You cannot wait to be inspirited or a huge time block to create. Instead you have to create whenever you have time. You may only have 15 autumn promominutes twice a day, but that is when you are going to have to create. I wasted so much time trying to recreate my college art sessions when I completely surrounded by passionate art people and then could disappear and create for over 6 or more hours at a time. You cannot do that if you have kids or a full time job. Or at least I have not experienced that. Also, if you have a family (however that looks to you) that you care for in some fashion, have a talk with them. Tell them that sometimes the dished will go unwashed or the laundry will not get folded or you will never clean the toilet. And you’re going to be okay with that and it would be great if they would be as well. Because at the end of your life you are not going to wish you did more dishes. Just friggin’ make art and love your people the way were made to.

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