“A blank canvas is the stage. When I am poised before it, I feel that anything is possible. Nevertheless, painting is not always a joyous experience but rather, something I have to do to stay “Alive” like breathing, eating and sleeping.”
A figurative-realist painter, Teresa Brutcher was born in 1955 in Phoenix, Arizona but moved to the island of Alameda in the San Francisco Bay Area at a young age. The change from desert to ocean side couldn´t have been more extreme and water took its tide defying her to ever live far from it again. As her new home was a small island, she was allowed to frolic about cycling to the beach and around the town quite freely.
Teresa Brutcher has shown over the past 30 years in galleries and museums in Spain, Portugal, Germany and the US. Perhaps her biggest thrill was just this year when she was selected to show with a group of realist women painters from around the world at the MEAM, The European museum of Modern Art in Barcelona, the most prestigious museum in Europe of contemporary realism. The group show called “Painting Today” celebrated International Women´s Day. There she showed one of her paintings alongside the work of 56 other women realist painters from around the world. "The work was exquisite; it was a privilege to show among them. And the connection among those of us who were able to attend (most of us were only acquainted virtually previously) was electric" she said.
Through her art, Teresa is able to transmit not only a majestic, shamelessly portrayal of the human figure, but also a story with great depths of emotions. A visual paradox describing what is not to be that we so often keep hidden. Those moments of withdrawal that guide us through a cumbersome path as we crawl through our own feelings giving rise to some mutual understanding. Teresa takes us by our hand, giving us a gentle introduction to our deepest wants and exposes us to a bit of what we all are. Beautiful imperfect beings that simply wait for our time, and what we make of this time is sometimes irrelevant. Irrelevant as the illusory expression of time, held in a moment like Teresa’s works art forever stranded in your mind.
Q. What´s your best childhood memory?
A. My best memory is going back to Illinois with my parents and meeting all my cousins and surviving grandparents. Meeting them and mingling with them was simply glorious!
Q. On a scale of 1-10, how strict were your parents?
A. Ten, but they were always fair and loving.
Q. When you were a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?
A. When I was very young, I wanted to become a nun, but that went away very fast and nowadays is as far away from my belief system as it could possibly be. I was extremely scholastically oriented and loved the life sciences, so as I have always had a passion for animals, I decided to study veterinarian medicine. But my passion for Fine Art was as strong as that which I had for animals and in the end, it won out.
Q. Do you remember the first art you made? What was it and how old were you?
A. My older brother was a studio art major and when I was 5, he gave me brushes and oils for my birthday. I painted a snowman; it was quite atrocious. I also made a zoo with clay at the same age. For that creation, I won a first-place ribbon.
Q. How and when did you first become seriously interested in art?
A. I was very much involved in the Arts Program in high school and decided to major in Fine Art at University. During a year abroad in my junior year, I started getting even more serious about my future as a creator when I was accepted as an intern in a prestigious printing studio in Madrid, “Grupo 15”. There I learned etching under a master printer in an extraordinarily professional environment.
Upon finishing my BA at the University of California at Davis, I returned to Spain in the pursuit of the acquisition of the academic skills I felt my training had lacked. I attended The Art University in Madrid, “San Fernando,” and became a regular at the nightly life drawing classes at “El Círculo de Bellas Artes.” During this period, my favored mediums were etching and drawing. In fact, I sold four editions of etchings the first year after graduation to a major
department store in Madrid, “El Corte Ingles,” work most probably destined to gifts for executives. With the earnings, I spent a month in the Greek Islands.
Q. What personality trait has gotten you into the most trouble?
A. I am painfully honest and sometimes people don´t want to hear the truth.
Q. What have you had to sacrifice for this career?
A. I spend hours painting and always have since I finished my degree and decided that I wanted to be a practicing artist. For some years, I had another full-time job to pay the rent and I got up in the wee hours of the morning in order to draw for several hours before heading out to the office. So, what I have always sacrificed is sleep and/or play time. Economic security is sacrificed as well because since I have always refused to “paint to sell,” selling is never a guarantee.
Q. Tell us about your particular style and how you came to it?
A. I am a figurative realist. My style approaches photorealism but I am not interested in replicating a photograph. I relish in the rendering of defined muscles, bulging veins, strong light, and deep shadows exaggerating reality just slightly. At times my figures are players on a rather surreal stage as in my series “Tightrope” where they struggle to stay aloft in an ethereal atmosphere.
Q. Who are your biggest influences? Are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in particular?
A. I don´t feel that any specific painter influences me. All the art I have ever seen, especially but not only the art I love, has formed the compendium of influences on my work.
Q. What does your art aim to express?
A. I endeavor to paint my figures inside and out. Skin and sentiment, the play of light and dark within and without, vexation and joy and all the complexities of the human spirit, surprise and inspire me to paint. I paint about my hopes and fears but never losing sight of the fact that they are not just mine. As humans, we share these sentiments and perhaps by manifesting mine, I can help someone else identify and understand their own.
Q. Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
A. Extremely so. I spend hours alone. But I am lucky to live with my best friend/husband, and we take many breaks together throughout the day. I do have very close friends with whom I try to spend time, but if they are very close, they also get that I need a lot of space and solitude.
Q. Apart from art, what do you love doing?
A. My family and spending time with husband and grown children, who do not live nearby, is my number one preference. I also enjoy gardening, reading and boating. I live in the beautiful Northwest of Spain in an area famous for its rias and Atlantic coastline. As I mentioned before, water has mesmerized me from the time I was a child. Going out on my boat is like going on a retreat. All my worries stay ashore.
Q. What is your philosophy in matters of art?
A. I really believe artists should attempt not to get caught up in the “shoulds” of the art world. As a fledgling artist I was overwhelmed by them. I think a creator must create from the soul what and how he or she wants to, liberating herself/himself of all external expectations. Of course, that alone does not guarantee the production of “true art” but it must be the point of departure.
Q. What does success mean to you?
A. For me, success is being the best I can be at whatever I do. As a parent and a wife, it meant that and as a painter, it means that as well. Continuous evolution is paramount for achieving success and, as a painter, if I ever stop feeling that evolution, I will put down my brushes.
Q. What are the biggest things you´ve learned in life so far?
A. Whatever you really want requires a constant effort be it a personal relationship, happy well-adjusted offspring or the development of a personal talent. Hard work is the only avenue.
Q. What is the best piece of advice you´ve been given and by who?
A. I can´t think of a single piece of advice but I am sure that the origin of the best advice I have ever received was my mother; she was “an angel in the shape of a mum” to quote one of my favorite singers, Ed Sheeran.
Q. What advice would you give to the next generation?
A. Do what makes you happy and try to make the world a bit better in so doing. That is dues we should pay for having occupied our place on this planet.