This is what it feels like to paint a narrative that is going somewhere without being sure where. And finally I realized this character who was taking all these chances and getting knocked around quite affectively was appreciating the motorcycle and what it was offering to him—again like so many times the dream showed me my first thought, my instant judgment put me in a righteous place and put this person in some sort of undeveloped childish foolish place. And as I worked with the painting I was able to see I could be this childlike foolish person and that there is a very exciting thing about that which makes me so grateful for having [the vehicle-] the motorcycle …that without it there would be a lot of passion lost.
P: How do you feel about sharing these dreams with people that you either know or don’t know?
H: It feels like it’s a lot like making art in general which for me is that I am trying to get it as close to my own personal truth as I can and the better I can do that the more it will have a universal impact… its really about everybody. It [painting my dreams] would be embarrassing if it weren’t just human and I would want to hide it if I didn’t see that it is what everybody does.
P: What is the response of other people to your work on dreams?
H: There’s a full range— I think that the work demands a lot from the viewer— that they have to climb in to see it. They might not care for the painting style, or the colors and they may just glance over it. And a fair number of people come in with a curiosity and wonder — they see that I’m in this lair that’s full of paintings …Or say, “wow there’s sure a lot of colors here” and for those folks that is often as far as they want to go. Some people are used to a gentler art… But then there are a handful of people who are really excited about a kind of art that they haven’t seen … which is narrative and figurative and let’s say for some people it seems really gutsy, juicy and full of human emotion. And for me, I think that’s what expressionism is really about.
P: In the world of writers there’s a group that uses their memories as their subject matter to write from because they are familiar and seemingly inexhaustible. I wondered if that aspect appealed to you in any way or if it’s just a by-product?
H: Well that’s sort of wrapped into dreams …AND for me it seems like that’s the only legitimate source I have to work from. [Otherwise]…It would flip over into a different kind of art— an intellectual conceptual thing (if I worked without the dreams). I went to a high school that was pushing me very hard toward left-brained intellectual expertise, but pretty much ever since I stopped teaching school I pushed my self in the opposite direction.
P: How has the painting of your dreams changed your work and changed your life?
H: It’s added compassion and some kind of gusto for life that doesn’t need to be protected, an open-heartedness …
And it’s been a way to get past that giant stumbling block in making art —all those little voices that say, “ why do I bother…the masters have all done everything better than I could do and its all been done…—if I listened to those voices they would rob me of “my motorcycle” which would be a real pity. Because it opens me up, deepens my connection to the world.
It’s a little bridge into the magic world of paint and pushing colors around. I don’t know what paintings are going to give me or anybody else at all. [But}It exposes my humanness.
My hope is that people would look at it and realize that they have dreams or similar feelings inside themselves.
P: Do you think it is a level of intimacy that a lot of people are looking for that your work touches in them?
H: I think so…. I think that if I have enough nerve to express these things then that’s enough mileage to get me thru any negative judgments I might experience in my life. Laughter.
P: Thank you, Hank, for contributing to this series. I have really enjoyed our conversation and I wish you the best wish for any creative "Carry on!"
The featured image at top of page is "Falling House", —HANK BRUSSELBACK