Color Play Cardinals by Sondra Brooks

Sondra Brooks

As it does for many people, the act of creating through drawing, painting, ceramics, fiber arts, embroidery, writing, and flower gardening always fills my cup with joy.  Gazing up at the Renoir, Van Gogh, Matisse, Wyeth, and Mondrian art prints that graced the walls of my Hungarian grandparents’ 20th century farmhouse is an indelible childhood memory.  I also was influenced by the frequent pen and ink doodling of my grandmother and the many stained glass renderings made by my grandfather. An adventure with my grandmother to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC to see a Dali exhibit when I was a teenager helped pique my appreciation of art from an early age.  Although I did take college drawing and painting classes and have spent many hours watching my professional artist husband, Jay Brooks, paint for the last 25 years, my career in school psychology, pursuit of a private pilot’s license, marriage, motherhood, and homeschooling trumped most of my creative moments and time.  Now, with retirement and both children working successfully in their chosen careers, reconnection with my creative self is more attainable.

“Color Play Cardinals”

One major benefit of homeschooling one’s children is the continuing education of the parent as well as the child. As someone who is curious about many subjects, when my son decided to take an online college painting course, naturally I wanted to listen in, paint the assignments along with him, and glean what I could from the opportunity.  “Color Play Cardinals” is the result of an assignment to mix and “play” with color.  Because I seek delight in the simple things in life, birds are an obvious subject choice for my work.  Growing up in an aviation family, airplanes and flying have always thrilled me, too.  One day while I was randomly videotaping an airplane flying behind the treeline near my house, I zoomed in on a photo still shot of the trees and immediately became transfixed with the idea of the negative space between the branches which “lend” themselves to certain shapes.   One’s brain, in attempting to make sense of what it sees, attaches meaning to the shape, almost like a Rorschach Ink Blot Test in the realm of psychology.  Thinking these tree limb shapes would make an interesting painting and specifically looking for bird shapes within the negative space, the composition of this painting essentially was already there; one just needed to find it.  Using most of the negative space to play with color similar to a work of stained glass, an abstracted male cardinal emerges as a strong red breasted focal point in contrast with the cool blues and greens of the other negative spaces.  The subdued tones of his female companions support his boldness, but never outshine him.

Upon seeing the Paint the Town project advertised in the newspaper, I decided to submit this painting, as I thought its universal subject matter and striking use of color and contract may be acceptable for this venture.  Although I have been attending my husband’s art shows and exhibits for years, this was my first ever submission to an event.  As such I am extremely honored to be a participant in this project.  Thank you to the jurors and to the Wayne County Arts Alliance for this wonderful opportunity. 

“Color Play Cardinals”