We had the good fortune of connecting with Aria Brownell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Aria, career-wise, where do you want to be in the end?
Ideally, by the end of my career, all I’ll be obligated to do is make art. My end goal is to make a life for myself with my artistic practice and to be able to financially support myself exclusively by painting. I love painting, it’s the only thing in life for which I truly have patience. When I wake up, I think about my paintings, and when I’m falling asleep, my paintings are what keep me awake. To me, I have an important relationship with making art that I haven’t been able to replicate with any other part of my life. As of now, I’ve had to consistently work a side-job to support my painting practice. My end goal, sometime hopefully not TOO far in the future, is to be able to sell my paintings to support my creation of more work. The end goal is to have all the time in the world to paint.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I make figurative oil paintings about my personal memories and past life. I use memory as a tool to interpret my current self and express parts of myself that feel awkward, confused, lonely, joyous, or sentimental. I paint from pictures and the way I apply oil paint is very classical, painting many layers to establish a surface, essentially working through a picture very closely and tediously. I’m usually excited by the end result. When I’m most excited is when I know I’ve made a good painting. It took me a while to get where I am in my artistic practice. I went to college and received a BFA in Painting and made completely different work between then and now. Up until recently, I applied paint in a way I thought was “painterly” or maybe even trendy. When I finally decided a couple of years ago to drop any expectations and just paint from a picture the way my hand naturally wanted to was when I finally found peace within my work. I’ve been painting since I was a kid, like everyone else, but I really started to take it more seriously during my college years, and even more so now. It definitely hasn’t been easy, and I’m still in a place in life where I’m facing challenges daily: financially, within my space, within my community, and within myself. I have a great support system in trying to overcome any challenges I meet, but I’m still figuring out all the aspects of creating for myself a successful artistic career. I’ve learned to follow my instincts when it comes to the way I paint, not to worry about what other people think about my paintings, and mostly to paint the subject matter in which I’m most personally invested. I’m not really bothered if somebody is uncomfortable with an aspect of my paintings. I’m also not bothered by the fact that my paintings are so personal, and not always relatable. I paint what I want to paint because otherwise I’d have no reason to do so. I want my painting practice to keep me excited and curious, and to be able to carry on with it throughout my life.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
One of my favorite spots around is Jester King Brewery. The land there is so beautiful and I always bring visitors there with me. It’s probably the most visited place in my history in Texas. They’re the best spot for a great beer to enjoy in the beautiful Texas weather, but we have so many breweries that any single one would still do the trick. We’d eat at Bouldin Creek Cafe and the Beer Plant as well as getting tacos from Vera Cruz or Papalote. We’d visit The Contemporary Austin and maybe even the Blanton and go swimming in the Greenbelt or paddling on the Colorado River. There’s an endless amount of things to do. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My partner, Daniel, deserves the biggest shoutout in my life. He encourages and inspires me, supports me and motivates me. Without him I would have nothing to paint about because life would serve less purpose. It’s also worth mentioning the support from my friends and family throughout my artistic career, as well as from all of the artists I’ve met and continue to meet. Without other art, there would be no conversation.