By Albert Smith
Originally published on Advocate.com October 23 2010 4:00 AM ET
Scott G. Brooks is originally from Flint, Mich., and currently lives and works in Washington, D.C. His subject matter ranges from simple portraiture to intricate narratives. In his paintings, he takes social, psychological, and political issues and injects them with a dark sense of humor. Anatomical distortions separate the figures from the photographic ideal, which gives him the freedom to create his own distorted reality. His work is described as twisted, offbeat, sentimental, and disturbing. In addition to exhibiting in galleries, he has also illustrated several children's books. His influences include Mad magazine, Disney, Saturday morning cartoons, and talking heads on cable news.
Why are you an artist and painter?
I started drawing when I was young. At some point I just realized that I would be an artist "when I grow up" — though at the time I didn't have any idea of what that meant other than making pictures. Today, I am compelled to work as an artist/painter. It's who I am and how I communicate. It's also just great fun to do.
What catches your eye?
Offbeat and odd things that occur naturally around us attract me, including this bat-shit crazy political atmosphere we're living in. The reality TV state of being seems so prevalent today. I look for the same qualities in the people I paint: offbeat and odd. Many of my models are burlesque performers. I love that they aren't "traditional models" and don't get too worked up about their looks or how I will portray them. They also have great outfits, which is something else that catches my eye.How do you choose your subjects?
There are a couple of different ways I come up with subjects for my paintings. Sometimes I'll come up with a concept and work it out completely before I start. Other times the models themselves will inspire me with a specific pose, expression, or outfit. Other times I'll just have a glimmer of a concept and start there. Most all my paintings evolve over time. It usually takes a few weeks to finish one up, and in that time, things shift or my perception of the subject changes as I focus on it more. I continuously ask myself what it means — and why I'm painting it. The process is much like therapy.
How do you describe your work?
My work is figurative.
What makes a good painting to you?
I like to see that there is some thought behind a painting, either in execution or subject matter. It should also be telling me something new or be funny. That said, I'm pretty easy to please.
Who are your favorite artists?
I have lots of favorite artists. A few contemporary artists I like are Joel-Peter Witkin, Odd Nerdrum, Dave Cooper, H.R. Giger, and R. Crumb. Classic painters I like include Ingres, David, Rubens, and Parmigianino. There are far too many to list here, I look at everyone's work.
Witkin is a photographer, so I like him because of his unbelievable subject matter and also the texture of his work. The painters I picked out of respect for their technical virtuosity. Cooper and Nerdrum are both amazing painters and funny. They also make it appear effortless.