We’ve seen online that you’re a musician, a painter, you also write stories for Tom’s illustrations and a few other things… so where did it all start, which practice came first?
Which practice… well I started singing earliest – I think music has always been the most natural thing. The first song I sung was the song from Snow White. Singing I think was the start… but it wasn’t that serious. And then drawing I took seriously when I was about 15 but before that I did a lot of dancing and singing… all building up. But painting has sort of taken off in the last 7 months.
So what were you early influences that got you into singing?
Singing… Disney. Disney princesses pretty much. I was very musical theatre based. What I’ve realised now, I love writing stories, like with Tom, poems and things like that and I have two nieces, and before that I’d write things in a book and before that I thought ‘it’s never gonna get published so I’ll just write it for myself’ but the enthusiam would sort of pitter out, but once I had nieces, I had an audience, which really gave me a drive. Now writing stories has become a part of something I really really love doing and I can see that you can pass on messages with stories – which I knew before but now I’m writing them I’m thinking ‘how can I arrange this so they can learn something from it’. And yeah musical theatre has influenced, because musical theatre is the most magical way of telling a story – because when you’re reading a book, you’ve got the words. But with musical theatre, it’s cheesy, it’s cheesy but you can really experience a story within two hours and you can really feel all of the emotions. So I think from that, as a genre, musical theatre really influences my music now, because I’m trying as much as I can to build a story and build that emotion within a song. As supposed to being about music, it’s trying to gage where the whole atmosphere and emotion is.
So did you study musical theatre?
I went to dance school on a Saturday and I learned tap dancing which I love and a bit of singing. I didn’t learn technically singing really. Really full on shows and everything but it wasn’t studying. I did theatre and drama for a year at A Level but then I dropped out – I did enjoy but then I started drawing, so I started doing that and then dropped it as well. Not drop out as in a drop-out, I finished the year, but then I dropped it because I didn’t really know what I was doing with it. But then also writing was in the back of my head… I was like ‘I wanna go to uni and do writing’ and I never have gone to uni in the end… maybe I will eventually.
Sounds like you’ve got a lot of talents…
I’m just trying to string it together really
That’s why I was curious as to whether you studied something… because it sounds like you’ve come in to everything quite naturally, do you come from a creative family?
My dad is a brick-layer and my mum worked in a sandwich shop and then she had four kids so
So are you from Bristol then?
No Hastings, it’s a nice town it’s a small town. But by that just because my dad is a brick-layer and my mum works in a sandwich shop, my mum has a lovely voice, she sings. She’s got a voice like Caren Carpenter and I just love it. And my dad likes to draw – that’s where I think I got the drawing from. My dad would start drawing and then I would think it was really cool. He tried painting for a bit and that’s actually where this palette is from because it was just left in the garage. He tried Bob Ross painting off the telly, he did a few paintings and my mum was like ‘nah’. But yeah I think was like 18 when I found the palette, and the reason I wanted to start painting was because, in my head, just holding it was cool and I was like ‘that can be my thing’ so that’s why I started painting.
And you’ve made all these since then… That’s crazy
Well I used to hate colours. The idea of using colours when I was younger was just horrendous – pencil was my thing, I felt safe with pencil, thought it was more interesting if you’re just using black and white.
So how do you find yourself balancing yourself across the different practices? Does one distract you from the other?
Um they don’t really distract. I think living in Bristol is so helpful because there are so many outlets for it, as in like open mics, gigs and jams and stuff that keeps the music going but at home I hardly play music any more which I did a lot before because I had more time. Whereas now it’s like, I’m here, I’m painting, however long this is gonna last because I have no clue…I’ve only been doing this for three months. It’s ok, it’s rolling well – I find time management a bit tricky. I’ve got a guitar in the cupboard here – so when it’s empty it’s nice to be singing and doing all that. And I feel like at the moment my paintings are surprising me that this is ‘my style’, but it came about just from that blue one with her headband, and then I was like ‘oh that works well’ I’ll keep doing that. It’s very neat, and I’ve never been neat – I’ve always done it sort of splashy. I sort of ride the momentum of whatever I’m enthusiastic about. I wrote a kids book over the winter for my nieces. Because it was Roald Dahl’s 100 year anniversary last year or something, I read Matilda again and I was like ‘I love Matilda, I’m gonna try and write that sort of length book’ so I did. I just bashed it out and I was like ‘wow this is amazing!’ And now I’ve made it into a musical, and then I’ve got the Old Vic, this is a secret, the Old Vic have accepted it to make it into a musical. So that’s really exciting yeah. I think nowadays, being enthusiastic and giving it time, they are the two ingredients that make anything, you don’t have to be a genius at certain things, you just have to have enough enthusiasm and give it time, so ride your enthusiasm and it will take you somewhere.
So where do you think your enthusiasm comes from?
I think I’ve always been a… I wanna say hyperactive haha…I’m very excitable. I imagine so many things, I get so affected by stuff. I can just listen to a song on repeat – if I hear something that’s good, I just get so excited about it. I think I really appreciate the little things that make you go ‘oh that’s really good’ and it makes your hair stand up – and I think that’s what drives your enthusiasm, because that’s worth it, because that’s what we’re all living for isn’t it. Art is more tricky I think than music – because with music, if there’s a rhythm, you’ve got something, it’s very natural. If arts not quite going, you’ve got to get a click between the colours. That one I left for ages because I didn’t know what I was doing, I was stuck, and then suddenly some of the pinks and the blue, and I was like ‘ah I’m excited again now’
How do you choose your subjects? Is it based on commission or…
No, so all the people I paint are people I know, or that I’ve met in real life. The first one, the girl with the head band, we were at a charity event, and she was just leaving, and she put her head down and tied her hair up. So yeah she just stood up and I thought, I should just ask her, but it feels a bit weird. But I was with my housemate and she was like ‘no, no, no, go’. And from there she came round and we had such a nice two afternoons together, talking about everything and that was really nice. And the next one, I met when I was carrying that painting to the gallery, so I met her then ran back after her and said ‘can I paint a picture of you?’. The Japanese girl is my old ballet teacher from theatre school and I utterly love her, she’s gorgeous… I wanted her to marry my brother. And the Indian man there, I met him on a mountain in India. And riding around on my bike, if I see someone and I think they’ve got a wonderful face, I’m slowly getting the courage to go back to them and be like ‘excuse me, I’m not crazy, but…’ And I have little business cards now so I can say ’this is what I do’ as opposed to like fumbling through my phone. And I think that’s nice as well because you get to know the people. And the personality shows through in the painting.
So when did you move into your studio?
About two months ago, I was working in my room for about two months, when it was going well, and then I’d go to bed and realise I had such a headache from all the turpentine – so I was like, I should have a studio. And then yeah I just found this online, well I emailed. And yeah it’s great, I love it, and now I have this separate space, my head space is different, because at home I was writing and painting and singing and
Where does it end…
Yeah! It all blurred over and I would get out of bed and have to work out how to do everything in such a small space, I’d have breakfast in my bed and blah blah blah then get the paints out and start them all up again. Whereas here I can just leave it.
So does this feel like a workplace?
Yeah! Yeah it does now. Well I say work… It doesn’t feel like work, but it is a place to come and work on a painting or on a song.
So do you talk to people in the other studios?
Kind of, it’s all sort of shut doors, because it’s all like your own space, not like Hamilton House, it’s not as communal. But it’s nice you do get to know different people.
And are you part of any creative networks in Bristol?
Yes, Dan, D A N, The Diverse Artist Network, it’s based in Hamilton House and it’s connected to the Tribe of Dorris, and it’s basically where artists or people from any sort of creative background can get to know each other and share ideas and things like that. It’s really helpful, most of the things that have happened, like the Old Vic was all from Tribe of Dorris and DAN, it’s great it’s good.
Brook is a Bristol based fine artist, who is also a creative in other art forms such as music and writing. He works mostly with models and oil painting. He captures his audience using vibrant colours, sometimes including gold leafing to further differentiate his style.
His unique way of painting is reflected in the unique way he selects his models. Some are people he approaches through day to day life, others are people who have inspired him over the years, either way he only paints people he knows so that he can truly capture the character within his work