Courtesy Pen Brady
If you take a look at Cedarcreek artist Pen Brady’s work, you’ll find finely executed, precise brush strokes. You may see bright, rich colors and deeply studied subjects. But what you’ll really discover is Pen’s voice shining through.
“What I try to do is say something about my subjects with just the forms, lines, and color that I have trouble expressing in my own words,” Pen says.
Pen’s first real inspiration came from the northwest-coast Native Americans. She was stirred by the culture’s stories, legends, and motifs, but she’s since moved away from these traditional images and has created a stylized version of her own, incorporating subjects she finds in the natural world around her in southern Missouri. Her process is specific and calculated— when she finds a subject that interests her, she delves into the exact part of the animal or plant that makes it unique. For the spring peeper found in her painting Sunrise Asana, Pen started with the spring peeper’s throat, because that’s what she found most relevant and fascinating.
“I’m trying to make it representational of something that makes it unique, but also not really a copy of something you would see in nature,” Pen says.
Using acrylic paint and India ink, Pen breaks the work into sections, perfecting each part of her subject until she moves to the next. Often, it will take her one month to finish one painting, but she finds the process extremely gratifying. “If the feelings I was feeling about the animal occur for other viewers, then it’s really rewarding,” she says.
Before she turned to art full time, Pen created models for natural history displays while working for Chase Studio in Cedarcreek, which specializes in museum and nature center exhibits. She first started working with botanical models and eventually moved into vertebrate models. In August of 2010, Pen decided to focus solely on her own artwork and began creating full time.
In her small house, she has converted a bedroom into her studio, fitting for an artist whose family lives and breathes art and creativity. Her husband, Padraic, handles
Pen’s website as well as converts her paintings into digital files for reprint.
His support is invaluable: “I’m not sure I’d be doing this if it weren’t for him,” she says. “It’s really important for me that above all else, he likes what I am creating.”
Both of their daughters have found a creative niche for themselves as well. Their elder daughter, Caitlin, is a photographer, and Savannah is a painter and composer. Pen is proud that she can share her love of art with her children.
“It’s really important to be able to add some kind of beauty to the world,” she says. “If you can do something that takes you away and just enjoy something for its pure beauty, I think that’s a good thing, and I want to pass that on.”
Pen’s work is on display at the Quicksilver Gallery in Eureka Springs, a high-end gift store, as well as Poor Richards Gallery in Rogers, Arkansas.