Zona Maco 2020

Craft and Diving In

I never buy the Financial Times. But it was pink, it was in the olden days when I was at an airport traveling and I wanted to read the feature on David Hockney and that is when I saw this haunting quote:

Unfortunately they gave up teaching painting and drawing. What’s going to happen? If you stopped teaching mathematics, bridges would fall down.
-David Hockney, Financial Times June 26, 2016

I’ve thought so much about the reality of this quote over the twenty five years I’ve spent wrestling with a brush, a surface and the infinite colors and effects I’ve sought to create with paint. I’ve had such wonderful teachers dead and alive that help me knit together a foundation of knowledge, but never found everything in one place, nor one that addressed the styles and urges of contemporary art picture making. I don’t want to paint like the old masters, the old masters already did that.

I get it on some level, all the reasons so much of the branches on this beautiful tree were left to die. Puh puh. God forbid craft should get in the way of “creative self expression”. There actually are things you can do to make it easier to articulate on a canvas what you can see in your mind’s eye. Ah, to paint… whether to be precise or to fling that color.

All a painter wants in the end is to be free.

Paintings are built layer by layer and go far beyond filling in a line drawing with colors. Artists, too, gain layers of knowledge, and the right ones at the right depth provide the very base to achieve that which the artist ultimately wants – that freedom. Making many paintings, including ones that suck along the way, the ones you never see in the history books, is how an artist can find their voice and discover anew way of being.

I’ve spent the last year building the curriculum I wish I had. I usually offer each class only occasionally but in light of this crisis, they’re all open now and I invite you to check them out here:

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Whether beginning, expanding or finding your voice, I hope to see some of you on the yellow diving board pictured above.

Kimberly Brooks
Los Angeles 2020

Painting in the Time of Corona

It is March 12, 2020, the Corona virus crisis is dawning on everyone here in America and we’re told were 10 days behind Italy where it’s unfathomably bad. My college aged kids are told no spring quarter. Everyone is stressed and worried.

There’s a scene in Roman Polanski’s The Pianist where the main character runs around trying to figure how to hide something valuable before the German’s invade Poland. As their conditions get worsen and they end up in the concentration camps you can’t help but to reflect on how futile that initial worry was.

It seems similar to some of accounts of doctors in Italy who only a week ago received their first case and thought about how bad it could get? And then within a week, they’re so overwhelmed, deciding who gets to live and die, and reflecting on their initial naiveté in hindsight.

All of this frightens me and everyone I know as we hunker down and try and figure out how might our landscape change here.
To teach painting online I have all this camera equipment in my studio and just hearing the sounds of puttering around calms me.

I’m so grateful to have painting as a refuge. It doesn’t require close contact with others and time slips away.
What are you doing to relax in this strange time?
What helps you?
Tell me in the comments, I want to know.

John Baldessari: Friend, Mentor, Artist, Comedian

Image result for john baldessari

The best artists I know are secretly hilarious. They giggle and laugh and are more often mischievious or odd or out of sync, often absurd often visual thoughts bouncing from out of nowhere in the conversation like a stray soccer ball from a neighbor. But when you take our picture, we have to look really fucking serious. Deadly serious, like Picasso.

But not John.

John was funny out in the open. He was funny in his work. One of the greats. He loved funny people. I know from funny.

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Book Announcement – Oil Painting Safe Practices: The Essential Guide

I’m thrilled to announce the publication of Oil Painting Safe Practices: The Essential Guide, a little black book just for oil painting of all the materials I would need and why.

The book contains critical information about the nature of mediums and paint with hand drawn illustrations and straight forward explanations for how to use what and when.

Oil Painting Safe Practices, Materials, & Supplies: The Essential Guide is a culmination of knowledge gathered over a lifetime of painting with the last decade focused on how to paint in the safest way possible. It is a perfect shorthand for me to teach about materials and enabling anyone to mix their own mediums, reduce toxins, save time, live longer, and create more art.

It is currently available at and thanks to Chronicle Books, a color version will be available worldwide in the spring of 2021.

Annie Lapin “Strange Little Beasts” Shulamit Nazarian

Artist Exhibitions
First Person Artist video series features exhibitions and studio visits of contemporary artists with artist/writer Kimberly Brooks

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Getting to the Ribbons of Color Faster

Painters all have a fantasy that the images in our head will flow from our fingers, brushes and minds in ribbons of color onto a surface; that we don’t pause or hesitate too much. It just comes.

We’re all angling and positioning ourselves for that moment.

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The First Time I Painted In Oil

I remember the first time I ever painted in oil as if it were yesterday.  I was initially hesitant to use the medium for 2 reasons:​  ​First​ly​, I put it on a pedestal, as if one needed a right or permission. ​ ​Second​ly​, I knew it involved materials that were somehow dangerous.

I did it anyway. I knew then that I would be using this medium for the rest of my life.  And I was right.

But ten years in, I started to feel funny from the solvents.​ ​ There was a distinct moment I knew something was wrong.  I was working on a painting based on the palette of this Fra Angelico. I was looking for the cool rose madder glaze, the cadmium reds and indigo blues.

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The Creative Process in Eight Stages

I made a great big canvas. For three weeks it sat in the center of the studio like Jack’s massive desk in The Shining. No matter how many “painting miles” I’ve earned, there’s really nothing more terrifying. Of course, I have some ideas, a subject, a palette in my mind. Several in fact. But I’ve encircled it, ignored it, worked on smaller paintings instead. Finally, today, I took six different shades of pink. Some cadmium red light, rose and violet, and I just attacked it. It’s okay, I wasn’t totally committed because I knew it was just the ground of probably ten layers that will live above it. But it was a start.

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