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Brianna Angelakis is an undergraduate going into her senior year of college with a 4.0 GPA and is gifted with a work ethic not known to many. Her social life, with the exception of her family, is pushed to the side in order for her to pursue her goals. She describes her drive to compete and succeed to be almost obsessive, but she takes advantage of every opportunity to expand her mind and strengthen her talents. Her dedication to her art can be seen in any of her paintings and the work she puts into them gives viewers an individual and a landscape to get lost in.
ToonariPost (TP): How did you first find your way into the art world? What made you decide to stay there?
Brianna Angelakis (BA): I’ve been creating art ever since I can remember. I was a “color-outside-the-lines” kind of girl. My mom and older sister always tried to guide me in the art of coloring, teaching me the boundaries coloring books provided, but I failed to listen. I entered and won my first art competition when I was seven years old and I’ve never looked back.
The act of creating became a part of me. I love the endless opportunities a blank piece of paper, canvas, etc. provides. At first, it’s almost intimidating, but once I start on a piece, it’s all I can think about. Having the opportunity to share my work with an audience is always exciting as well. While compliments are always flattering as an artist, a critique can really help an artist grow and truly alter an artist’s mindset.
TP: What is it about structure and straight lines in art that makes you feel confined? Would there ever be an instance where you would resort to using them and what would that circumstance be?
BA: Whenever I work on a piece that involves some type of structure, (a building, a box, etc.), I always want to break those perfect, mathematical boundaries. Imperfections are naturally beautiful to me, so whenever I find myself forced to work within structure and straight lines, I try to alter the appearance of the object or building to emphasize its flaws. For example, instead of painting a new, bright red barn, I would paint a rustic barn with broken boards and rust. The additional texture creates a more interesting image which I can enjoy working on and the viewer can spend more time observing. In a way, I sort of cheat my way around structure to create something more organic and natural.
There are definitely some circumstance where I would resort to using structure, like a windowsill or door for example. But even in the case of a windowsill or door, I try to create flaws within the structure or add ample amounts of texture to keep the object from appearing too structural.
TP: What about literature and poetry gives you inspiration to your work?
BA: I’ve always loved to read. Writers can create an entire universe in a work as lengthy as a novel or a single stanza in a poem. With a double major in English, I analyze works of literature and poetry through close-readings. Symbolism and metaphors are used frequently in literature, forcing me to think on a higher level. I then utilize that higher level of thinking when brainstorming concepts for my paintings. Works written by the Bronte sisters, Alexander Pope, William Wordsworth, John Keats, William Shakespeare, and Emily Dickinson have inspired a number of my paintings and illustrations.
TP: Which poem or piece of literature has inspired you the most and why? Which one has proved to be the most difficult to put into a piece and why?
BA: I’m not sure if I would say one piece in particular inspired me the most (my pieces are generally influenced by a number of different works); however, I did create a series of paintings inspired by William Wordsworth’s famous poem, “We are Seven“. The first time I read the poem, I was brought to tears. It’s a beautiful poem which focuses on the discussion between a young, innocent girl and an older man about her deceased siblings, proving the young girl the wiser of the two.
I had a difficult time creating a piece which centered around Pandora and the infamous “box” she opens, ultimately damning mankind. The only reason why the piece failed was because I didn’t think through the concept well enough. I jumped into the painting with little thought on the design. I definitely feel if I were to attempt a similar concept, it would be much more successful.
TP: How long were you experimenting with different materials before you settled on oils and wood for your art? What were some of the problems that arose and how did you overcome them?
BA: In high school, I experimented with materials ranging from scratchboard to acrylic and etching to watercolor. I honestly ran into few problems when jumping around from new media to new media. I found watercolor frustrating at first, but even that I learned to love. I settled on marker, colored pencil, and a mix of both for a while. It wasn’t until September of 2011, my junior year of college, that I actually began oil painting. I hated oil painting at first, because I was accustomed to the quick drying process custom of acrylics.
After a couple months, I fell deeply in love with oils. I tend to work on wood because it fits with my romantic concept found frequently in my paintings, and it’s relatively cheap. This summer I’ve been practicing painting on canvas board which works similar to wood. I have little interest in experimenting with other materials at this time in my life. I’ve grown dramatically in the art of oil painting in only a number of months, and I can’t wait to see my future completed pieces.