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Brian Paulsen

"Since Brian’s earliest memories he was always keenly aware of his living spaces, people’s differences, their odors.  His grandfather was a sign painter and a muralist.  His father was an inventor and builder of houses, cabinets and boats.  Because his studio was in the same space as his fathers’ wood and tools for many years, he lived with those smells and noise.  His early years became the stocked cabinet of memories that feeds his art. 

Brian defines still life in a completely different way while maintaining the same emphasis upon the culture that produced the thing rather than the thing itself.  His objects are “slices of life” placed in actual settings made artificial through juxtaposition. 

Brian often refers to his work as collages, defined in the early 20th century as works of art assembled from “found” elements that are glued to paper or canvas, thus creating a new whole.  Certainly his images appear to be “found” or stumbled upon, or remembered.  Certainly the whole is greater than the sum of the parts with the combination determining whatever meaning the viewer might extract.  Although painted rather than cut or pasted, they do suggest the collage.

This is an artist who delights in visual games, in word games, in whimsy.  He is well schooled in the principles of design, in art history, in color theory and formalism, all of which he freely puns.  His paintings have moved from collage, from still life, to contemporary landscape.  The surreal coupling of images remains, and the whimsy and the make-believe as well. 

Watercolor as a medium interests Brian because of its sediment color and quick drying.  The hard edges are an outgrowth of his sign painting and graphic design interests coupled with early copying of cartoons and illustrations.  He still makes only two or three drawings a year that remain as drawings.  He paintings, however, begin with a drawing on tracing paper.  By rubbing the back with graphite, he turns his drawing into carbon paper.  Then transfer it to watercolor paper and start painting flat color areas.  Gradually he modulates the value and color."

- Excerpt from the book Brian Paulsen, by Laurel Rueter