Faith: Jeremiah 29:13 of the Bible reads, â€œAnd you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord.â€ For artist Brooke Olivares it was in her search for the Lord that led her to her passion in painting. Diligence: Olivares, a native of San Diego, California graduated from Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida where she majored in illustration.
Olivares, who also attended the Illustration Academy, was mentored by industry professionals who she says greatly effected her life. â€œI was mentored by leading illustrators that had such an incredible desire to help and mentor illustration students starting out,â€ Olivares says of her time at the academy.
Love: Olivares would take a page from her mentorâ€™s sketchbook and begin to teach art classes to young kids. â€œI was given so much encouragement as a child to keep drawing and I am so grateful to be given the opportunity to foster an environment in which that is possible,â€ she says. Devotion: the journey has just begun for Olivares and where ever the road might take her she says there is one thing that will never change â€“ her unwavering commitment to her craft.
“Painting is like a visual journal for an artist. I can look at a painting and remember so many little significant details that were happening in my life at that time”
Format: How did you get your start as an illustrator and artist?
Olivares: After I graduated from school, about a year and a half ago, I began doing self-promotion with my work with publishing companies and different magazines â€“ little by little freelance opportunities build, one leading to the other. It takes diligence and patience, but when itâ€™s a passion that you have its worth all the work.
Format: So, this is your passion?
Olivares: I have been drawing and painting for a long time and it is most definitely my passion. It gets more refined as more work is produced. Painting is like a visual journal for an artist. I can look at a painting and remember so many little significant details that were happening in my life at that time, and it really marks growth artistically as well as personally. Being someone who expresses themselves through visuals can be challenging because you are creating something from nothing, but it is so rewarding when you see the purpose and direction begin to take place.
Format: What approach do you take when starting a new piece of work?
Olivares: The approach I’ve been taking as I begin my work has been changing, especially when it comes to idea generation. I find myself doing a lot of writing beforehand, and from that individual words or concepts begin to generate the visual images. I do a lot of process work and drawings before I begin painting. It makes the painting move a lot faster if I know the direction in which I want the painting to go.
Format: Several of your pieces, such as â€œDear Fatherâ€ for example, depict a certain message. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Olivares: I used to draw most of my inspiration from things I saw in my community first hand; it was usually the relationships of people in a given neighborhood. I found though that I was seeking more, that it wasn’t all about the image itself, but the purpose of my content. I know that this ability I have been given is a gift from God, and it is not by my own means and skill. As a artist I had to decide and ask myself , â€˜why do you create, whatâ€™s the purpose [and] motive behind what you do?â€™ It was a major heart check. Through prayer and trust in God, I have found that when I paint for myself alone, the images are just lifeless; they don’t breathe. But when I paint for others and with the purpose that God intended my gift, itâ€™s the most indescribable feeling. Words cannot even begin to explain the feeling when you are painting something that you feel has been placed on your heart. The piece â€˜Dear Father,â€™ started as a drawing in a sketchbook that I did a year ago. I wasn’t sure whether or not to pursue it, or if it would stay a scribble in my sketchbook. It became clear to me though, that I was to begin this piece when I learned of a suicide. I just kept thinking if people only knew that they were not alone, that when they cry out, their voices are heard. That we were all created with a unique and specific purpose that no one can take away from us, regardless of the situations we may be in. After this it became no question what I was to paint. I titled this piece â€˜Dear Father,â€™ because when we call out in our deepest heartache, He will carry you.
Format: How does living in California influence your style?
Olivares: Along with the heart part of creating imagery, I am influenced stylistically by things I see first hand and the environments I am in. Most of my work has an urban feel to it based on the reality of where people live. California is very diverse and allows, I find, beauty in areas that may seem to have a rough hardness about them. There is always a story behind everything you see.
Format: Would you consider your methods different and/ or unique from other artists?
Olivares: I am learning so much as an artist and with each piece that I begin. I gain more intuition as far as how to push a piece and let it guide me. I think that every artist has there own personal way of working because we are all creating based on who we are and the life experiences that shape us. I paint in oil and I find that itâ€™s when you keep layering and taking away, adding and scraping away that you begin the refinement. Certain parts of the painting are more finished than the other, making visible the history of the painting.
Format: Your artwork seems captures the subtle moments in everyday life. Is there something you see or comprehend that maybe other artists donâ€™t?
Olivares: I think that I am drawn to moments that are subtle, yet hold relative significance in someoneâ€™s life. I don’t think I necessarily see differently than other artists, but that itâ€™s about the perspective and the way in which you choose to represent the subject. It all goes back to the heart and intent of an image.
Format: What other artists have specifically influenced your work?
Olivares: I have been specifically influenced by artists such as Degas, Mark English, Josh George, George Pratt, and Gary Kelley. I’m also apart of an amazing community of artists that mentor and inspire each other. Itâ€™s always motivating to see the direction and growth that is taking place in the work of your friends.
Format: On your Web site you said â€œInvisible Childrenâ€ was inspired to help raise awareness about children in Uganda who have been â€œdisplaced from their families and who are often used as child soldiers.â€ In general do you feel your art gives a voice to the voiceless?
Olivares: Giving a voice to the voiceless is something that I feel most passionate about and more of my work will lend itself to that even more so in the future. Itâ€™s the ability to use visual communication to bring awareness to the suffering and heartache of people that are all over the world. That is the purpose in which I desire to create. To paint in such a way that is not about me, but to use this gift of art to bring hope to the broken. To encourage those who feel the calling to take action, in whatever capacity that may be.