Certified Nutritional Practitioner, Laurel McBrine, tells us how she prioritizes personal wellness while thriving in her career as a fine art painter.
What draws you to painting children?
Portraits, if done well, convey a sort of immortality, freezing the person at that moment in a more intimate way and with more depth than a photo, which is why parents treasure paintings of their children.
It all began with my childhood fascination for Tudor portraits and a knack for drawing that earned me lots of praise. Seeing master paintings in books and museums, along with the birth of my sons, were all factors. I love to paint any face, animal or human, but I find that parents especially want to capture their children for posterity. Portraiture is the most challenging genre of painting, but portraying children is the ultimate challenge.
Would you please describe your process of capturing someone’s essence in a painting?
I like to get to know the person as well as obtain excellent reference material. I generally take photos and then choose a few that resonate with me to capture the individual’s unique beauty. Sometimes I have to piece several together. Then I get the input of the person commissioning the work to see what they think. Because most people won’t sit in person for the 100 hours necessary, you need to have a lot of experience painting from life to know what works. I use a computer screen with the head at life-size, almost like having the person there.
On an average day, what do you spend your time doing? What’s a highlight and a lowlight?
Before the pandemic, I represented a natural skincare and cosmetics company and taught art classes. After the world came to a halt, I took the opportunity to get rid of 90% of my stuff along with two properties, including a beach house, in anticipation of new adventures.
At age 62, I’m obsessed with discovering all the hacks for having a long life and looking and feeling my best. While on my daily hike, I listen to podcasts focusing on the latest research about health and longevity. I love spending time being creative, both in the studio and the kitchen (currently doing a lot of baking with beans), and being physically active, especially outdoors.
Because of a genetic connective tissue disease, many accidents, and now lingering health issues after a viral infection in March 2020, I’ve had to create coping strategies by being vigilant about good habits. I aim for at least 10,000 steps, getting outside first thing in the morning, whole food plant-based diet, getting enough sleep, fasting 16-18 hours, infrared sauna, resistance training, stretching, cold showers and facial sunblock every day!
What’s the best advice you could give to someone pursuing a fine art career?
Immerse yourself in learning – look at great art in books and museums, invest in instruction, listen to podcasts and study with master artists. I have travelled a lot to take workshops with top painters, which has accelerated my artistic development. Keep a sketchbook, work outdoors, from life and often – daily painting or drawing in a small format will accelerate your growth as you learn something from each piece with less time invested in each work. Exhibit your work regularly and utilize social media for marketing.
What is your vision for the future? What do you hope to accomplish?
In an ideal world, I would spend my time being creative, both in the studio and the kitchen, and doing everything necessary to stay healthy. If we have the privilege of ageing, doing it well starts with a great attitude, openness and a sense of adventure, looking forward to the next thing. I am excited to create a new chapter with more time to further develop my work, do more writing (a book about ageing), and explore new places.
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