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Joseph Browning
The painter with his soon to be wife Olga and Painting No. 197 in 1991
Photo courtesy Todd DellaBella


NOTE: These pages are best viewed on a screen larger than a cell phone in order to really see the paintings. It's important to take your time looking at these paintings, to go slowly and let your eyes and brain digest them over time. I've never been interested in making paintings that reveal themselves easily or that are about one thing. I've always loved paintings that can be discovered and then rediscovered, seeing different things each time you look at them. This website is going to be here for a long time so you can take your time, which will make a huge wonderful difference in the end.

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I spent a little more than 11 years being a working fine art painter. From Saturday 9/19/1987 through Thursday 1/21/1999 I created over 300 paintings in San Francisco and Sebastopol, California, USA. Most of the paintings are on canvas, with some being on mixed media such as paper, cloth, string, rice, noodles, sawdust and wood, and some are digital paintings that were created towards the end of the 11+ year run.

My goal was to paint every idea and inspiration that came to me, without holding back or allowing any fear or negative consideration to prevent me from exploring the next idea. This included the notion of painting pictures that would become successful sellers and important art historical pieces like the paintings of Jasper Johns, yet have enough street cred to become iconic groundbreakers like work of Jean Michel Basquiat. My goal also included making a living solely off the sales of my paintings. This goal was not embraced at the time by my mother Carol Ann, herself an incredibly talented and opinionated painter and musician, because she felt that wanting to sell my work was the wrong reason to do the work. I tried to counter with the fact that selling my work was not the reason I was painting, but simply a means to allow me to continue to paint. She would give me her famous look of doubt that only a mother can deliver to her son, whom she also felt in competition with, yet I stood my ground and proceeded with my goal anyway. I had no intention of being a painter who never marketed their paintings or who did it as a hobby. I wanted the world to see my work, for better or worse.

As it turned out and as evidenced in my later paintings, the mental psychosis that was borne out of my creating the paintings and then having to market and sell the paintings in a crazy mixed up world that couldn't care less about me and my paintings would eventually overtake my drive and desire to continue painting...


Joseph Browning Paintings 001
No. 001 - Breaking Up/Down
Oil on canvas - 15-1/2 in. x 21-5/8 in.
Saturday 9/19/1987 - Collection of the Artist





Joseph Browning Paintings 002
No. 002 - Voyeur
Oil on canvas - 18 in. x 14 in.
Friday 10/2/1987 - Private Collection





Joseph Browning Paintings 003
No. 003 - The Manipulated Challenge
Oil on canvas - 20 in. x 26 in.
Sunday 11/27/1987 - Collection of the Artist

The first three paintings shown above were done with oil paints, utilizing some fairly traditional surrealist techniques along with borrowing imagery from photographs. These three paintings each took a long time to complete as oil paint takes a certain amount of time to dry and so I had to wait and paint in layers as each painting dried, a rather painstaking process. After completing the third painting I traveled up to Sebastopol from San Francisco to visit my mother Carol Ann, to help her stretch new canvases for her own paintings, and to show her my new paintings. I was quite proud of my work as I displayed them to her, but while she was appreciative, she wasn't entirely as blown away as I had hoped for. There was some mention of my use of strong primary colors as a negative aspect. Then she asked if I ever worked with acrylic paints and I had not up to that point. She said they're great because they dry very quickly which allowed her a freedom in her abstract paintings to make changes rapidly and finish her paintings more efficiently.

We continued chatting as I began stretching and stapling the new roll of canvas to the new stretcher bars, always glad to lend my skills to help her have fresh canvases to work on. She was so grateful for my help and enthusiastic about using acrylic paint that she gave me two of the canvases I just assembled and invited me to paint with her using her acrylics and brushes. I started work on Painting 004 (below) during that visit. I chose to work solely from my imagination as I didn't come prepared with any prior ideas nor any photo references. I was in fact free to just let my mind wander onto the canvas. And I was both surprised and elated as to what was developing before me on the blank canvas. Carol Ann was entirely right about the acrylic paints: they dried fast and felt completely different than oil paint. They lent themselves to impulsive choice making and if I didn't like what I saw I could paint over it almost immediately. Because they are water based, I could paint on the raw canvas without having to use a gesso primer to protect the canvas from the effects of oil paint. It was like being transported instantly to nirvana. I couldn't believe what was happening as it was happening because it was so much fun. And I didn't really notice what I was painting until after I took the unfinished painting home...





Joseph Browning Paintings 004
No. 004 - Remembering What It Was Like
Acrylic on canvas - 30 in. x 36 in.
Monday 1/4/1988 - Collection of the Artist





Joseph Browning Paintings 005
No. 005 - The Black Hole
Acrylic on canvas - 32 in. x 26 in.
Thursday 1/7/1988 - Collection of the Artist





Joseph Browning Paintings 006
No. 006 - Skyrockets In Flight
Acrylic on canvas - 36 in. x 42 in.
Thursday 1/14/1988 - Collection of the Artist

Painting No. 006 shows my extraordinary happiness with now using only acrylic paints to work with. It was also a rather silly painting and I didn't care. I still don't. Because it simply conveys my mentality at the time that was filled with unplanned escapism and freedom. When I was studying illustration my focus was all about exact details, precision and representation. It was demanding and challenging art to make. This silly painting was nothing but FUN to make and free from all constraints whatsoever. And it also speaks of a relationship I was on my way towards exiting, which corresponded perfectly with my conscious exit from the world of illustration.





Joseph Browning Paintings 007
No. 007 - The Release Of Moments
Acrylic on canvas - 30 in. x 36 in.
Monday 1/18/1988 - Private Collection





Joseph Browning Paintings 008
No. 008 - Alive Again
Acrylic on canvas - 32 in. x 26 in.
Thursday 2/11/1988 - Collection of the Artist

Throughout this site I make reference to certain paintings that just feel perfect to me. Alive Again is the first painting that came upon me effortlessly and without much hesitation. I didn't have to think too much nor work too hard to arrive at this completion. Each time I see it I get that same hit of satisfaction and contentment that I felt when I originally painted it. This kind of overall instantaneous pleasure is one of the many benefits I discovered from being a painter.





Joseph Browning Paintings 009
No. 009 - Transforming The Climb
Acrylic and pre-printed calendar numbers on canvas - 24 in. x 30 in.
Wednesday 3/30/1988 - Collection of the Artist

With No. 009 Transforming The Climb I once again employ the use of stairs as a motif like I did in No. 004 Remembering What It Was Like. The stairs represent both a way out of the painting or a way to a different reality other than the one shown in the painting. Stairs for me also represent transformational growth both spiritually and emotionally. They add a sense of being able to climb or descend into other states of being at any moment just by utilizing them, either as a viewer outside the painting or as a subject within the painting.

Transforming The Climb was also the first abstract painting I made where I allowed myself to have no idea about a subject or object, beyond the stairs and words of course. The words came last, almost a reminder to myself that I didn't know what "This Is?" To allow myself this kind of ambiguity in my art was a big step for me emotionally, having just spent the last few years in college learning how to create the artistic illusions of reality through traditional illustration. To not know what I was painting nor how it would equate to making money so I could pay my rent and eat was both terrifying and exilerating.





Joseph Browning Paintings 010
No. 010 - Exile Of Acceptance
Acrylic on canvas - 40 in. x 32 in.
Saturday 4/30/1988 - Private Collection




Joseph Browning


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