Joseph Browning Paintings Header

These pages are in the process of being created -- check back for updates.

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

Joseph Browning

NOTE: 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 are easy to take in 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 request is easier asked than achieved in today's abundance of too much information and having no patience or time to comprehend it all. Of wanting instant access to everything but not wanting to savor it much before jumping to the next accessible thing. It took me over 11 years to create these paintings so try not to look at them in 11 minutes or even 11 hours. This website is going to be here for a long time so there's no hurry and it will make a huge wonderful difference in the end.

♣ ♠ ♣

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 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 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 Jasper Johns, yet have enough street cred to become iconic groundbreakers like 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, herself an incredibly talented and opiniated musician and painter, 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 gave 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 is borne out of creating art and then having to sell the art in a crazy mixed up world would eventually overcome my own ability 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 No. 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

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

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

Copyright Notice: All rights reserved. No part of this website may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of Joseph Browning. For image use permission requests, send an email with the subject line "Attention: Permissions Coordinator," to NOTE: All images contained in this website are being tracked and monitored for copyright infrigement use.