For an artist, finding inspiration in everything can be a bit of a problem. “You can only work so fast, and many ideas go unexplored before you finish what you are working on,” says artist Dan Brown. Brown finds inspiration in many things, including, but not limited to: the seasons, fish, animals, the work of other artists, graffiti and color combinations.
However, Brown can pinpoint his biggest inspirations: shapes and movement. “Some objects just have pleasing shapes,” he says, “and seeing them makes me want to use the shape.” He’s attracted to the juxtaposition of positive and negative spaces. “I love the idea that “nothing”—for example, a hole—can be as interesting as a positive object.”
Brown, who frequently works with metal as his medium, always makes sure “there is beautiful motion” in his sculptures. “We are all meant to move, and nature is more interesting when it’s moving,” he says.
Metal speaks to Brown, especially repurposed pieces. “For good or for bad, I can see something in almost all cast-off metal,” he says. “Sometimes the vision and time work out perfectly and the work flows into creation.”
Working with metal, however, is not without its difficulties, especially when dealing with the large sculptural pieces Brown tends to create. Making a sculpture that, “can be displayed inside a gallery and then outside,” is a challenge, he says.
“I make my work in pieces,” he says, so it can fit inside the gallery door and underneath the ceiling. When pieces are sold, they are often installed as part of owners’ landscaping. “Someone will find the perfect spot for it,” Brown says, “and if they don’t like it, I will like it in my yard.”
A full-time middle and high school art teacher in the Okanogan County School District—and Washington State 2001 High School Art Teacher of the Year—Brown has guided many students to awards in regional and state art competitions in a variety of mediums. He’s known for inspiring both independence and perseverance in his students.
“I think it’s important to let the students have ownership of the assignments and don’t let them stop working until they have made it the best they can,” he says. “I give assignments, but encourage the students to put their own twist on it.”
As a working artist, Brown understands that much of creation is timing. “When a student is working on something that is very good, I let them finish it. I prefer a few excellent pieces completed in a quarter as opposed to 10 shoddy works,” he says. “As a professional artist, I realize a school quarter isn’t that long; it boils down to about one week of full-time work. It is easy to spend that much time on an artwork.”
Learn more about Dan Brown at www.danbrownartwork.com/about-dan-brown