Self-taught artist Patricia Brintle was born and raised in Haiti and immigrated to the United States in 1964. Although she has made the US her residence, her colorful style reflects her native land. Her approach to painting is varied and reflects her feelings at the moment. Brintle’s work is influenced both by personal and social experiences. Most of her portraits focus on the expression of the eyes and tell in one look the story of the person on the canvas.
Brintle is a member of the United Haitian Artists and the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition. She exhibits in New York, Florida, Connecticut, Illinois and California. She is represented by Agora Gallery in Chelsea NY, Medalia Gallery in NY, Nader Haitian Art in NY, Artists Haven Gallery in FL, Gallore Gallery in CT, Nicole Gallery in Chicago and the Bridgeman Art Library in London, UK.
Annunciation, 2011 (acrylic on canvas), Patricia Brintle / Private Collection
Can you please tell us how your upbringing in Haiti has influenced your artistic practice?
My upbringing in Haiti greatly influenced my art practice today. My inspiration comes from Haiti. It is where my “muse” resides. When I pick up the brush, I invariably go there; and most of the time to the mountain top where I spent a large part of my childhood. My long walks alone through the lush green countryside, admiring valleys and rivers down below with the blue sky above, and passing by various trees full of beautifully colored fruit left a strong imprint that is reflected in my works today. Haiti is a very colorful island; there is color everywhere, even the people’s smiles are as colorful as their dress. There is a joy in the heart of the Haitian even through their hard life and that peace is reflected in my work. Where I grew up there was no electricity so we woke at dawn and went to bed at sundown.
Today, I still wake at 4:30 am and do my best work early in the morning when all is calm and the town is still asleep. When I travel to Haiti I always take a book with me and make rough sketches of the places I visit to work on in my studio. As a result all most of my landscapes are of actual places in Haiti. For example, Thiote, Chardonnette, Plaisance, Mayette, Trouin, Marmelade, Bainet, Miragoane, Furcy, Ennery are all actual places in Haiti that I’ve been to and made quick sketches and notes that are worked on in the studio.
The First Mother, 2006 (acrylic on masonite), Patricia Brintle / Private Collection
How would you sum up your practice in 5 words or less?
Altogether exhilarating and serene.
Christ - Last breath, 2008 (acrylic on canvas), Patricia Brintle / Private Collection
What other artists, dead or alive, would you choose to have dinner with?
1. Caravaggio to learn his step by step chiaroscuro technique.
2. Jean Francois Millet to tell him how universal his subjects have become.
3. Van Gogh to thank him for the texture of his artworks.
4. Laura James to share our love of religious art.
Amen, 2010 (acrylic on canvas), Laura James (Contemporary Artist) / Private Collection
Where do you draw your inspiration from with regard to your work on the Madonna and child?
I was brought up Catholic, went to Catholic School, and received all my sacraments but like so many I no longer practiced once I left school. Then in 1981 my son died in a car accident and returning to the church brought me solace. Furthermore, I developed a devotion to the Virgin Mary, who like me, had lost her son and could share in my pain. I since would imagine her in the most human motherly situations raising her child and delighting in the joys of his upbringing as I did with my son, and found a commonality of life with Mary. Consequently I paint the Madonna and her child set in the Haitian landscape; using a silhouette instead of a face allows me and viewers to enter the story. For example, Madonna and child - Lullabye, Madonna and child - First Words, Madonna and child - First Steps are all common life moments that is shared by all mothers.
Madonna and child - First steps, 2008 (acrylic on wood), Patricia Brintle / Private Collection
Madonna and child - Lullabye, 2008 (acrylic on wood), Patricia Brintle / Private Collection
What are three things you hope viewers take away from your work?
My art reflects life, a positive life, full of bright and vibrant colors. Like life my art calls the viewer to thoughtful reflection. It depicts places where viewers may want to go, scenes that viewers could experience and portraits that may resemble their friends. I hope viewers will find my work pleasant and compelling; I hope they will learn something new, not only about the culture and history of Haiti but about themselves and feel encouraged to want to know more; and I hope viewers will find hope and peace in the symbolism they discover such as the open door on the upper right corner of the artwork depicting the history of Haiti, Hope at Sunrise, which means that every dawn brings the hope of a new day, one that can be fruitful, productive and abundantly successful for there is always hope at sunrise.
Hope at Sunrise, 2007 (acrylic on canvas), Patricia Brintle / Private Collection
Your artwork is closely tied with your community involvement in the charity "From Here to Haiti". Please tell us about your most recent project and how this has inspired you artistically.
From Here to Haiti (FHTH) was formed in the aftermath of the earthquake of 2010; we are all volunteers and so far have completed over 20 projects and have as many in the works. Those projects allowed us to provide temporary employment to over 600 Haitians improve the lives of over 5,500 children and positively impact countless villagers. Our most recent project was for the small seaside village of Petite Riviere de Dame Marie whose water is brackish and unsanitary. They requested an artesian well be dug as to help restore health to the community. Once the well was dug, using very rudimentary tools, it was heart-warming to see children coming to fetch water and how quickly the news spread to find over 50 villagers around the well bringing back clean water home. Seeing the water flow dirty at first with a strong burned sienna moving to ochre, then to clear reflecting the blue of the sky and disappearing in the burnt umber leaves below has led me to try my hand at some abstract work using the “feel” of the gushing well.
Like all my works, the story will reveal itself on the canvas, conversations will happen through paint and brush fed by thoughts and emotions. Because my works evolve as they are being created I am often amazed how so many stories are told through the canvas. One of my first trips for FHTH took me to the south of the island where there was a profusion of fruit trees. Upon my return to the studio I undertook to paint the “seasons” series to bring to light the huge variety of fruit and vegetables that grow throughout Haiti. I chose women to carry the fruit to emphasize the nurturing spirit and strength of character of the Haitian woman; the drape of the shawl highlights her warmth and stresses her femininity and the silhouette invites the viewer to become part of the story.
Season Breadfruit, 2011, (acrylic on canvas), Patricia Brintle / Private Collection and Season Avocado, 2011, (acrylic on canvas), Patricia Brintle / Private Collection
As a self taught artist, can you tell us what advice you would offer to any aspiring artist looking to excel in today's art market?
I prefer setting an example than give advice, but I would tell aspiring artists that simplicity is best and to be true to themselves while showing their art at every opportunity as to maximize their potential. My advice: “Follow your instinct, believe in yourself, paint every day, surround yourself with gentle people, and remember that mistakes are just as important as successes.”
Leon, 2008 (acrylic on masonite), Patricia Brintle / Private Collection
Defilee la folle, 2008 (acrylic on masonite), Patricia Brintle / Private Collection
What do you love most about the act of painting?
The peaceful excitement I feel while I create. When I paint I am at peace with the universe and with myself. All is well synchronized and I become aware that the world unfolds exactly as it should and that God is all present. Time no longer exist. The painting I am working on becomes my universe and the subject on the canvas takes a life of its own.
Celimene, 2008 (acrylic on masonite), Patricia Brintle / Private Collection
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