Brenda Myrick moves beyond watercolor with spirit

BRISTOL — When you’ve been doing something for more than 30 years, chances are you’ve experienced some changes. Brenda Myrick knows the feeling. In fact, she’s in the middle of a shift right now.
“I’m at the point where I’m ready to stop painting watercolors the way I used to,” explained Myrick, who primarily painted commissioned portraits of loved ones — people, and pets, too.
Her style was classic. Myrick painted layer, upon layer with thoughtful color and strokes to build an image with an intense realism that feels like it’s caught in a dream.
“I think watercolors are the hardest medium,” she said. “I’m thinking all the time about the colors and the layers. It’s this tense play of precision and letting go… When you’re painting with watercolors, it happens all at once. That’s what has really helped me to become the artist that I am.
“That work has served its purpose,” continued Myrick, who got her degree in studio art and art education from the University of Vermont in 1980. “It helped me let go. I feel like I have my foundation and now have the permission to do what I want to do.”
And what’s that?
“It’s everything,” she explained. “It’s the place of knowing and not knowing.”
What does that look like?
Well, for now, it looks like oil and acrylic paintings. Myrick, a fourth generation Vermonter, who recently moved with her husband Jim Lienau to Bristol after 15 years in Lincoln, has been working on abstract paintings and some animals, like the white buffalo, an arctic fox and a panda.
“I use palette knives, brushes and my fingers,” she said. “This work feels so much more vital; it feels important for me to be doing this… If you don’t change, paintings can become static.”
Myrick said she “practices” painting, much in the way someone would practice meditation or a song on the piano. And sometimes, to be honest, it ain’t pretty.
“It’s important to give yourself permission to make ugly paintings,” she said. “Experimentation is how you grow as an artist.”
Even though the subjects and medium has changed for Myrick, the fundamentals of her paintings are unchanged. “Spirit” still defines Myrick’s work.
“I’m an animal communicator,” said Myrick, with her Tibetan Terrier Maizie by her side. “I feel the spirits of animals; they communicate and hold energy.”
Perhaps this is why Myrick is able to capture the eyes of her animals with such authenticity.
“The eyes and the spirit are the most important parts,” Myrick said. “In all my work, I have a need to communicate love and the spirit in everything.”
Even in her abstracts.
“Abstract painting is a ritual unknown; a mirror of my life,” she said. “It’s a structure that allows an image, memory or a thought to appear in a painting. So it’s endless what you can do.”
Some might find that daunting, but not Myrick. For her it’s exciting.
Less so for her 89-year-old mom, who she and her two other sisters (Holy Svendsen and Bethany Myrick, also artists) care for.
“My mother was an artist,” Myrick said. “She would get out her watercolors and paint at the kitchen table with us. She taught herself and was a big influence on us.”
Myrick remembered a painting she did when she was 5 years old of a Japanese woman in traditional clothing: “My grandmother framed it — that’s when I knew I was going to be an artist.”
Over the years, Myrick set up art programs for underserved populations in Addison County, taught art privately and at the Lincoln School, had kids, got married and went back to school to become a tutor in reading, writing and spelling. Through it all, her painting was there. Sometimes a main focus, other times in the background.
Today, her art is front and center.
“When I paint I go to a place that is balanced and happy — usually. Getting to that space is the goal,” she said. And if she can’t get there, she doesn’t paint.
What she creates when she’s in that space is anyone’s guess. We’ll just have to wait and hope to see her new work in a local gallery soon.
To see more of Myrick’s work visit artistartchive.com.

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