As one looks at the still life painting by Hebe Brooks, “As Sweet as Honey”, which won the Best Still Life Award sponsored by the Martin F. Weber Company in the 2016 NOAPS Best of America Exhibit, there is not just one still life, but many. The viewer’s eyes are led from the oranges to the reflections on the dazzling silver, bouncing with grace through the painting just as the light does. Within the reflections we see more than meets the eye…the surroundings of the still life, the back of the objects, and a multitude of nuances of light and color.
“As Sweet as Honey” Oil on Linen, 20×30, Private Collection
Like many artists, Hebe knew from a young age that art was her favorite pastime. As a child she spent countless hours drawing and painting. But also like many artists, she pursued a different career after college, working instead in the travel industry where she was able to gain insights on different cultures, life and art. But her art won out, and after a few years she returned to the University of Houston for a degree in Fine Arts, Studio Painting and Art History.
As a docent for the Museum of Fine Art in Houston, Hebe has the opportunity to view some of her favorite artists on a weekly basis…paintings by Jan Van Huysum, Willem Claesz Heda, Winterhalter and Courbet always give her pause.
Although still life may be her most frequently painted genre, Hebe also does landscape and figurative work. The still life paintings provide her with the ability to ponder her set up and color palette, taking time to carefully consider her composition. In her piece “Coffee in the Serengeti”, the background drapery is carefully folded around the coffee set, but upon closer inspection the viewer can see the landscape reflected in the lustrous metal. It is the careful description of reflections in her paintings that are a hallmark of her still life work, and even in her landscapes, such as seen in “Midday Mirror”. The inspiration for reflections came to her while sipping her afternoon tea, and noticed the effect. As Hebe describes, “It was looking at the world through a different lens. I could see everything that surrounded me and I have been hooked on reflections ever since”.
“Coffee in the Serengeti”, Oil, 20×30 Collection of the Dunegan Gallery of Art, Winner of Best Still Life Award at the 2014 NOAPS Best of America Exhibit
In the studio, the set up for the still life takes some time to ensure the light and reflections are working within the composition, after which Hebe starts with a monochromatic underpainting. The underpainting allows her to fine tune the composition, values and details. She chooses a color for the underpainting based on the final colors, often using a complementary color. After the underpainting is completed, she begins a process of layering her colors and bringing the painting to completion.
“4PM Tea Time” Oil, Collection of the Artist
“Midday Mirror”‘ Oil, Winner of Best of Show at the 50th Richardson Annual Regional Juried Art Exhibition. Permanent collection at the Richardson Library Art Collection
Hebe has garnered many distinctions with her art, including Master Signature Artist with NOAPS, Best of Show, First Place, Best Still Life (several times!), along with many other awards and recognitions. She has had articles published in the International Artist Magazine and Southwest Art Magazine. Hebe graciously extends her thanks to the judges, editors, and art organizations who have recognized her work.
Hebe’s parting words: “Painting is so addictive that a day without painting is usually a bad day; therefore paint, paint, and paint some more!”
To see more of Hebe Brooks’ art, go to http://www.artbyhebe.com.
To see more of the National Oil an Acrylic Society’s Best of America Exhubits visit http://www.noaps.org.