Today I had a chance to sit down and chat with Bryan Rogers, who is a Cambridge, Ontario artist of some repute – ill repute, some might say!
Originally from England (London area), Bryan is a former tool and die maker and, presently, a Fine Arts student at the University of Guelph, Ontario.
Let us begin by sharing one of his untitled portraits, of which he has many, and are usually done in oils.
Bryan got his start in the art world a little later in life (he is 76 years of age at the time of this writing), and has been painting for 10+ years while he is currently attending school to earn his art degree, part time. I sat down with him recently to chat with him about his creative process, and generally to shoot the breeze about art and so forth. Here is another piece, also untitled.
Friend To Man & Beast
Brian is a friend of my family, and can often be found trying to solve some kind of home fixit situation with his buddy, BeachBabyBob. I’ve seen them fixing bikes (including mine), sinks, and all manner of home related issues.
Bryan, for the record, is what you might call brutally honest, in that he is not afraid to share his opinions with you, even if that opinion is slightly jarring or offensive to the overly-sensitive people of the world.
At the local YMCA, some people fear him, lest they receive a tongue lashing the likes of which they’ve never before received. Ah, but I jest! Oh look, here he is pictured below on the right, smiling for the camera.
Our conversation was of a similarly no-holds-barred nature, although I was, luckily, never spoken of blithely during any of his diatribes. No topic is particularly off limits when you talk to Bryan, and he has a knack for weaving a great and whimsical yarn as quickly as he can verbally horsewhip someone, based on all his worldly experiences thus far.
Here is a painting he did of some sunflowers, with more sunflower paintings out of frame, congregating in his basement.
Growing up in England in the groovy 1960’s, Bryan was lucky enough to catch all sorts of sights and sounds, including many concerts in the local area. He saw the best, and more! He even saw the Beatles before they were famous! Rightly, Bryan loves to talk music.
When we spoke, Bryan was laid back as ever, and we hung out on his patio, where the weather and surroundings were quite agreeable. By the way, you will find our audio conversation is at the bottom of this article.
But first, some more info about the artist…
The Artist’s Lair
In visiting Bryan at his home in Cambridge, Ontario, I got a glimpse into his world as a painter, getting a tour of his studio and hearing about some of his works, which are all over the house, either on the wall, in his studio, or stored away.
Here is another untitled portrait conjured up by Bryan, which we hauled out from the depths. The woman pictured here – who I do not know – Bryan only mentioned that she her general disposition matches how she looks. Take from that what you will. I presume it is for sale, also.
Although his house doesn’t look much different from any other house on the street from the front, Bryan’s inner environs gives itself a way as the lair of an artist with a lot on his mind, with supplies and paintings everywhere, piled high from floor to ceiling.
In taking me on a tour of the domicile, Bryan explained the stories behind many of his works as we walked, and took me deep into the caverns of his abode to show me where he does his work and what new works were coming down the pipe. Cluttered is one word some people might use to describe such a place, although to me it looks fairly normal for an artist. The trick is to sell your paintings faster than you create them, and, often, this is a difficult situation to attain – especially in Cambridge, Ontario, where most people by their art at Wal-Mart.
Below is one of his painting rooms, packed full with stuff, including a new painting of Keith “Keef” Richards on the bottom right. Even in this early stage, the subject is quite recognizable (to me, at least).
Influences – Pollock, Kandinsky
In terms of his artistic styles, Bryan does not stick to one strict style or aesthetic. His aesthetic is very much informed by his tastes for particular artists, such as Kandinsky, and Pollock, who are two artists he told me he really likes and takes influence from. This influence is fairly obvious from some of Bryan’s works, which are direct almost copies of both Kandinsky and Pollock, although not exactly. This one below is definitely inspired by Pollock, but goes in its own direction if you care to look closely.
Here is another abstract painting below that bears more than a passing resemblance to a certain Kandinsky work. Bryan does this knowingly, as almost a technical exercise. This type of exercise dates back to his days of measuring and copying when he was a tool and die maker, where many of the tasks he performed were exacting and focused on making things in a specific, almost carbon-copied, way.
Technique and Toil, Plight of the Art Student
According to Bryan, he isn’t exactly concerned about artistic originality so much at this time, as he is still an art student and absorbing new styles and working on his craft. I can vouch for this, having been to art school. Sticking to the various formulas is the name of the game, if you want to get good marks, and not fail or draw the ire of certain fickle profs. Here is another work, if you please. Soccer players in action…
If you’ve been to art school, you may have done an assignment or two where emulation of a particular artist (often the professor) is the key, and often your grades depend on that. As such, Bryan often sticks close to the source material when that is what is required of him for an assignment, but he also strays from it more and more lately as his work continues to evolve.
Here is one of his more Pollock-inspired work. Although clearly inspired by Pollock with its paint-splatter effect, Bryan puts his own twist on the technique.
Portrait Artist, Capturer of Moods
As I said before, Bryan Rogers has done a many portraits – many many, actually – based on people he has met, and there is definitely no shortage of those when I visited his studio. Having been all over the world, and having met many people – some of whom he likes, some of whom he dislikes – he always has an opinion about who he meets, and he might even share it with them!
I’m not sure who this next guy is, but it’s one of those creepy paintings that always seems to be watching you.
Bryan has a keen eye when it comes to sussing out people and I think his paintings certainly reflect that. In terms of portrait style, there is no one style that dominates them all. Here is another portrait – as you can see, all the portraits have their own flair.
I would say, that of all his work, I like his portraits best overall as they seem to capture all sorts of moods inherent in their subjects. Capturing the moods of a subject, some might say, is the main goal of a portraitist. Bryan excels at this, and he chooses his subjects wisely as they usually having captivating traits in one way or another.
In terms of representationalism (real vs. not real), his portraits lie somewhere in the middle ground between realism and abstraction, so they are hard to categorize. Also, stylistically, Bryan Rogers’ portraits don’t remind me of any one particular artistic influence, which is cool. Bryan also took part in The Many Faces of Cambridge portrait project, which took place years ago, which featured portraits from across the region.
Here is a portrait Bryan did of a homeless guy he saw in France. The homeless are much more stylish in France, I suppose.
Bryan’s eye for capturing interesting subjects is probably what I enjoy the most, although I am curious to see where his more abstract work goes over time.
Here is a portrait he did of his daughter, which, again, shows that he has a discerning eye in terms of what he wants to say about a particular subject. This one is not for sale, as it was given as a gift.
If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably ready for my interview I did recently with Bryan Rogers. We cover a lot of ground, although none of it was particularly mapped out. I hope you enjoy our talk, featured below.
If you want to get in touch with Bryan to inquire about a painting or to talk about soccor, find him here on Facebook.