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Article: A Gift From Us To You With Brianne Burnell

A Gift From Us To You With Brianne Burnell

Brianne is a mixed media abstract artist. She works by collaging hand painted paper, and combining that with painted or drawn elements. 

Hi Brianne! Could you tell us a little more about your dreamy artwork and this medium?

In my work my focus is more on the process. How do colours interact? What shapes are interesting to me? I explore and investigate how different elements work together and discover what the combinations convey.

I started this particular medium a few years ago. I’m a digital artist first and I'm pretty skilled as a digital artist, but it just wasn't giving me the same feeling. 

This kind of creative process must be very different from digital art. The fact that you have to fully immerse yourself into using your hands and body to create.

Yeah, sometimes it actually feels like an out of body experience. I’ve recovered from an eating disorder in the last six years and I always say that in every aspect of my life, I'm hyper aware of my body but when I'm making art, I don't even notice that I have a body. I'm just so fully into the work that everything else, including time just goes by. 

Can you tell me what inspires your work and has the pandemic shifted that?

Yeah, I've definitely had a lot of stuff emerge in my work in the last year and a half that has to do with Thunder Bay and specifically Lake Superior. I've been deeply, deeply homesick. I haven't been back since 2018 and I'm always feel a little bit homesick in Toronto and it just got so much worse during the pandemic. I’ve been really channeling these shapes and it was always a little bit in my work, but the shapes and colors of rocks and water... all of that started emerging. I’m not setting out to create a specific image. I work intuitively and explore different combinations. 

I spend a fair bit of time looking at the work in its different stages, and I’m finding that part of the process really important. Even the process of rifling through bings of paper that I have painted and torn, sorting them and laying them down on the page, there is a lot of quiet and peace in that process. 

The colours, they’re so beautiful and soothing. I feel calm just looking at your page! 

That definitely comes from me having a bad brain and needing to kind of override it. I figured out if I could fill my brain with enough pink and purple and blue, and texture and almost overstimulate with good stuff, it helps calm all the rest. And it’s worked! I very much recommend it. 

I mean, you’re right on point with our monthly intention, can you speak a little more about slow living and what it means to you?

Yes, that is really resonating with me right now. I was thinking about the shut-down on March 15th. It was three weeks after I had done Artist Project — it was the biggest show I’ve ever done. I was over-preparing, my brain was going so fast. I never stopped working. I felt like an art factory. And then the show itself was so intense and fast paced. And I wasn't gonna slow down. I was ready to build on this momentum. And then we were forced to stop and I needed that so badly. I mean, I wish the pandemic hadn't happened, but I needed something to force me to stand still and to reevaluate and to think about what I want to be getting out of my art and what I want to be putting out there. Because when you're doing shows, it's so easy to get in the mindset of, what's going to sell? So, I try to always make sure I'm taking a break from that mindset to reconnect with this art for me at the end of the day. As much as there was such bad stuff going on everywhere, the moments where I was making art, I felt so much peace and stillness. Even now as things have started picking back up, I’m trying to remember the importance of quiet.

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