Ursula Brenner Explains Her Passion for Abstract

Ursula caught the fever for art in high school and then pursued it more aggressively at Edgecliff College where one of her teachers, Josef Albers, led her through the The Interaction of Color, a pivotal course in how to deal with color.  Others taught classical training in composition, drawing and painting.  During her early years after graduation, she painted realistic scenes but gradually over the years found her voice and heart in abstract painting.

I see all art as a degree of abstraction.  It is simply a question of where you stop on that continuum.  An artist is seeing something with the eyes but the brain and heart processes this information through life experiences and then it comes back out and manifests itself from the hands.

What inspires my work is around all the time.  It could be when I am flipping through a magazine and see a color combination or composition.  It could be driving along the road or walking in a park … my imagination never stops … sometimes it is when I wake up in the morning with paintings in my head.  I am always looking at things and constantly feeding my brain with visual information to be processed often at an unconscious level.  

Ursula Brenner, Image 4806

I am always challenging myself to make better paintings … and asking, “why do I find this more interesting than some other image?”.  Painting is about making choices, whether intellectual or emotional.  The ideal is to have a balance between the two sides of our humanity.

Once I start a painting, I see where it will lead me.  I listen and look. The painting will tell me what it wants and I simply do it.  When I don’t listen (impose my will), it usually is not as successful as a whole.  Sometimes, if I don’t know what to do next or go blank and I have to stop.  Over the years, I have learned to just stop and come back the next day. With fresh eyes, I usually see almost immediately what to do to finish.   How do I know when it is finished?  It will feel complete to me and let me know it is finished. That’s the hardest part.

I like to explore painting in different sizes and examine the same color but pushing it in different directions—warm to cool, lighter to darker values, transparency to opacity.  It might begin with a challenge to use a color that I haven’t focused on before and make it the most interesting and arresting color I can.

Painting is like training for a marathon.  One must paint every day or at least consistently.  You show up and do the work even if you don’t feel like it.  Sometimes the most interesting things show up when you are “not in the mood” But, you always do the work!  Actually, it isn’t really work but one of the greatest pleasures in life!

I do think that there are people that will never understand or get abstract art and that is okay.  I think it has something to do with how our brains work.  It is why some are better engineers, party planners or nurses and some of us paint abstracts. We are all given different strengths and it is up to us to find them out.   We are all on a journey of figuring out who we really are and trying to grow at the same time.

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