When it comes to Portland, nature and whimsy go hand-in-hand, so it makes perfect sense that Brooke Weeber's an Oregon lass born-and-bred. Her illustrations are peppered with bears on unicycles, moustachioed baleen whales and a nursery's worth of delightful greenery, with plenty of playful colours thrown in.
We had a chat to the lovely lady (who, if we didn't dig her enough, also happens to have a degree in Professional Pastry Baking) about her quirky style.
What is your name and how old are you? My name is Brooke Weeber and I'm 33 years old.
Where were you born and where do you live now? I was born in Walla Walla, Washington by accident. But I'm a native Oregonian and I currently reside in Portland.
How does where you grew up and where you live now affect your art? I think Oregon has had a vast influence on my work. I grew up spending a lot of time outdoors and still consider it an integral part of my life. My appreciation for mountains, rolling hills, flowering meadows, animals, rivers and forests were a result of spending so much time in them as a child and young adult and they make a significant appearance in a lot of my work.
Please describe the space where you do most of your creation – whether it's your art studio or kitchen bench! I'd say most of my creating happens in my art studio, which is in an old warehouse style building with large windows and wooden floors. It's a beautiful bright space with very little insulation so it can be frigid in the Winter. It's an inspiring building filled with a variety of other artists and makers.
What kind of mediums do you use? Why do you choose to use these mediums? I mostly focus on watercolor, ink and pencil. I painted with oil in college, but after moving to New York City in my mid-twenties, I realized that I no longer had the space for oil painting. I slowly transitioned into watercolors because it's such a compact medium. It took years of patience and perseverance to feel comfortable with watercolors, but now I can't imagine using anything else.
Is there a running theme to the work you create, or do you just make whatever comes to mind? I use some themes from nature, culture and history. But in the end, I just follow whatever comes to mind on any given day. I jot down notes when I'm out and about and an idea pops into my head. It usually starts very small and develops organically through time.
What kinds of ideas and things are you working on at the moment? I'm mostly gearing up for the holidays. I've been creating calendars, holiday cards, tags, and other items. It takes up a lot of my creative energy this time of year. Otherwise, I've been working on custom portraits for people ordering them as Christmas gifts or wedding invites, which can be really fun!
If you were to teach an art appreciation class, what kind of lessons would you try to teach your students? I would just encourage students to keep their minds open when approaching artwork and to come to their own conclusions about it.. It's important to understand different movements in art and the work of some famous artists, yes. But in the end, it's up to the individual to develop their own tastes and style, and everyone must take their own journey to get to that point.
Do you think people need to understand the artist's intention to appreciate the art? Absolutely not. I think what's most important in art is when people are allowed to develop their own relationship with a piece and to see it's beauty in their own eyes. Perhaps eventually they'll be able to understand the artist's intention, or perhaps they'll create their own narrative and discover meaning based on personal life experience. That's what I find most paramount.
What is the strangest thing or thought that has inspired a piece of work? Most of my work is a little bit strange, so it's difficult to put my finger on one piece in particular. I went through a period where I was fixated on underwear and refused to make a single piece of work that didn't feature it in some way. I guess that's a little weird, but looking back on them now, I still think those are some of my most comical creations.
Which era of art do you appreciate the most? Folk art is my favorite style/period of art. I love the disproportionate figures to the landscape and the bizarre perspectives, the simplicity and the use of color. It's so honest and heartfelt.
What do you doodle when you are daydreaming? I mostly doodle imaginary faces on imaginary animals doing random activities in made-up settings. My doodles don't usually contain a lot of detail, I'm far too distracted to carry them into full realization when I daydream.
What other budding artists do you love? Andrea Wan, DeeDee Cheriel, Cendrine Rovini, Betsy Walton, and Angela Dalinger, just to name a few.
What do you enjoy doing when not creating art? I spend most of my free time baking, cooking, canning or playing outdoors. I love hiking and camping in the Summer and running and snowshoeing in the Winter. I love travelling near and far and taking the time to see as much as I possibly can in my short and wonderful life.
Where can we see more of your work? brookeweeberillustration.tumblr.com, my Etsy store, or on Instagram at @littlecanoe.