She hadn’t originally intended to become an artist, Joanne Vallee Brunelle admits. “I wanted more of the art education angle, thinking that it would be an easy deal. Well, it ended up being a double major, more like creating my own major.” Finding it tough enough to finish her art major requirements in four years, she gave up on “the whole education angle, which I’m pretty glad I did.”
Moving toward abstract painting was a gradual process for the Granville, Massachusetts-based artist. She started off “doing a lot of real natural forms, as all college students do – you draw what you know. I went to UConn at Storrs [Connecticut], and I was surrounded by beautiful countryside, drawing cows and rolling hills and apple orchards and all of that traditional stuff. Still lifes and plants – things that are in your dorm or apartment.” But after awhile, Brunelle grew bored with traditional subjects and wanted to move in a new direction with her art. She began “blowing up” objects, creating what she calls “macroscopic” renderings. So, instead of painting a pile of leaves, she would paint “one giant leaf, a single leaf all by itself, or leaves overlapping but from an exploded type of view. And it kind of brought it into a different plane.”
Along the way, Brunelle took up picture-framing “because it was arts-related. It was like ‘Oh, I’ll be framing art all day -- I’ll stay in the art world.’” Today, she owns and runs J. Vallee Brunelle Fine Art & Framing in Granby, Connecticut. It has, among other things, allowed her to provide a place for local artists to meet and show their works.
“Y’know,” the artist goes on to explain, “abstract work has really a lot of the same elements as any other painting. You have to have a balanced composition: there’s use of line and form and color and shape to add interest, there’s repetition, there’s rhythm. All the basic elements of a good painting are there, whether it be abstract or representational. You just have to have them, or it’s not a good painting – it won’t be successful.”
So, yeah, for Brunelle, it is about that having those elements – that “interesting composition” -- in place. But it’s also about listening to her intuition instead of having an image set in her mind when she starts out. She tries to clear her head first, same as she would before meditating. And then she “might choose a color – ‘Oh, I really want to use this fluorescent orange today – I really like this color.’ And that’s kinda where I start. I just want to see what this color looks like, and then I let my hand dictate what I’m going to do with it.”
Extracts taken from ‘Pushing the Abstract: Joanne Vallee Brunelle’ from Sketch People an online blog by Tammy J Banks