By Artists For Artists

Brent Estabrook: A Journey Back to Childhood

Unique Journey

Brent Estabrook, a US-based oil artist, uses a range of confident brush strokes, bold color, and layering to create pieces that carry viewers back to a strikingly child-like place. With a uniquely modern and playfully plush twist, Estabrook integrates the running theme of soft toys with a fresh post-impressionism, laced with a lovely face of realism and attention to light and texture. His intriguing artistic eye has also drawn towards gouache and even sculpting with oil clay, something he hints we’ll see much more from him in the near future.

"Safari" by Brent Estabrook, oil on canvas, 2017

Growing up, Estabrook was always known as the “Art Kid”, with a love for creating and parents that encouraged his artistic expression avidly by sending him to art classes and continually supporting his creative enthusiasm. Although Estabrook did not predict the impending life of a full-time artist, he studied for a very “dispassionate career path” in dentistry. After countless “mind-numbing studies, exams, and dental work”, he would still spend every free moment painting. His undeniable kinship with creating inspired him to pursue art with fervor after graduating. Regardless of this brave transition, Estabrook values his experience; “like most things in life, there is always a silver lining and many of the manual dexterity skills of dentistry have translated into unique techniques within my artistic practice.”

"Brown, Gray, Pink" by Brent Estabrook, oil on canvas, 2017

“My artistic style has developed and evolved over thousands of hours of artistic exploration. I am convinced a style is not something that is quickly acquired but instead the culmination of thousands of hours of discovery and doing – until your habitual mind starts to create something so uniquely yours.”

Untitled Painting by Brent Estabrook, oil on canvas, 2018

Seeking to inspire others, he thoughtfully creates visuals “that really resonate with others and ultimately reinvigorate a love for the craft of painting.” His often adorable and plush teddy muses are favored by Estabrook for the boundless artistic composition opportunities and the variety of colors and textures. He enjoys having aspects of the painting that feel real and “touchable”, as well as aspects that are completely abstract.

"Elephant" by Brent Estabrook, gouache and charcoal on watercolor paper, 2019

Stuffed Nostalgia

Much of Estabrook’s artistic life has been spent studying the traditional rules of painting, however, now his method is more rooted “in the moment”, and he attempts to break these rules to “create things that are both rooted in and disconnected from form and figure.” He finds excitement in letting his “subconscious do the work.” The freedom of flow and movement are essential aspects of Estabrook’s final outcome; “I want my new work to feel every bit as alive as my previous hyper-real stuffed animal pieces”.

"Lucky Cat" by Brent Estabrook, oil on panel, 2017

Experimenting with artistic technique is kindling the artist’s creative embers; “I have been applying paint directly from the tube and also love using palette knives – along with the power of mediation to get my brain into a more free-owing mindset”. The raw, unfiltered creative freedom achieved by such a liberated attitude allows Estabrook to channel his “unconscious mind”, rather than “over-thinking and analyzing every small detail.” Quoting one of his favorite artists, Phillip Guston, Estabrook summarises the importance of bypassing his surface level thought to reach his subconscious creativity; “When “I” leave the room, that is when I really start painting.”

"Hey, How's It Going?" by Brent Estabrook, oil and charcoal on canvas, 2018

In a consumer-centered world, Brent Estabrook manages to cast our often weary eyes back to a simpler time, to the endearing faces of our childhood teddy bears, to appreciate texture, depth and something much deeper. “To bring people back to their childhood and evoke a sense of play. We are great at playing and having fun as kids but we tend to forget how to do this later in life… we all tend to run around a bit too serious.”

All images copyright of Brent Estabrook

You can view more work by Brent on his Instagram and website.

Article written by Kate Smith

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