Enjoy the portfolio of painter Brian Behm, and visit his website to see more from this talented artist. Brian shares his thoughts about large scale work and his unusual technique.
ABI: What’s your background, and how did you get started painting?
BB: Since I was a child I was always jumping from one creative outlet to another. By the time I was headed for college I knew I wanted to pursue the development of that creative side of myself in an exploration of discovering my artistic voice. I went to a small school near Harrisburg PA and majored in art—with a concentration in graphic design, for practical purposes.
My ulterior motive however, was to take as many painting classes as I could. I was exposed to a slew of modern, dada, and neo-dada artists whose work really stuck with me. I especially drew inspiration from Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Gerhardt Richter for their large, bold work which seemed to hold a sort of passion and rebellion that I didn’t see in more traditional art. I also internalized the idea of communicating emotion from abstract expressionist artists like Mark Rothko whose goal was, at its core, to move people emotionally.
ABI: Describe the technique you use in creating your art.
BB: My larger works are done in acrylic on wood panels. Abandoning the brush, I took to smearing paint with paper towels because it kept me from overworking the surface. The raw marks give each piece a sense of motion and interaction that speaks to the vibrancy of passion and emotion behind the work.
I then layer over that abstract-expressionist base with crisp lines, dots, and/or silhouettes to place “characters” in defined emotional spaces which can be juxtaposed for dramatic contrast. Each segment of a work then takes on its own “feel,” contributing to an overall story.
ABI: Do you prefer using a large format for your art? Why?
BB: The scale of my work is certainly informed by my modernist predecessors—who mainly worked on life-size or larger panels—and the large-scale element of my art came quite naturally to me. Standing in front of a large painting fills the viewer’s entire field of vision with the work, and this allows them to more easily have an emotional interaction and response with the work.
It becomes easier for one to let the colors, textures, and shapes overtake them. It also allows me to make long sweeping marks, forming a sort of dance as I create each work, which is an important part of my mark-making process.
ABI: How do you foresee your work changing?
BB: Recently I experimented with going back to brush-and-canvas and have created a series of moody abstract horizon paintings, so I hope to continue developing that series alongside my other work.
ABI: How are you selling your work?
BB: I am participating in gallery shows and outdoor arts festivals more and more, and have recently started offering prints of my work for sale. Through my website I can take offers on original works or orders for custom-sized prints on artist canvas or fine, archival-quality art paper.
ABI: What are your future plans?
BB: Moving forward, I will stay involved in gallery openings and art shows regionally. I also hope to continue using my artistic voice to bring people together around the conversations of emotionally-stirring artistic experiences. I believe at our core there is a part of each of us which longs for that deep connection that art can provide.