Inside the Studio

Alice Brasser

What is your medium?
Oil paint, I like the slowness of the material. If I am painting outside, I use acrylic which I always need at least a day to get used to its quick drying time.  As for oil paint I benefit from all its phases/stages. Especially when the paint is wet or half wet there are a lot of possibilities. The last paintings I made are wiped out from a thick layer of paint (‘Shelter’, ‘Wasteland’). This is a kind of ‘reverse’ way of working.

I use kitchen roll paper as an eraser.

What themes do you pursue?
Pfff, hard to say. This is the category of ‘easy question, difficult answer’. However, I will try to explain something of the process of my painting or what counts the most for me.

The overall theme is perhaps ‘seeking’. This is a conclusion when I look back on what I have been painting till now. Sometimes it is literally, like the series of ‘Diggers’ (‘Eldorado’). Most of the time it is seeking in paint, explore the boundaries of painting by compressing space, twisting colours and using the inversion, light becomes dark and vice versa. Everything is allowed to come to that strong image.

How many years as an artist?
Whole life?

Sketchbook? Do you use one? What type?
Not exactly a book, though sometimes I do make sketches. Every year I go abroad with a couple of friends  to paint. Lots of my paintings can be traced back to the works I make on these trips in the field. (Very old fashioned painting, sitting or standing whole day outside in struggle with wind, too much sun, insects etc, etc).

Where is your studio?
At home. I live in an old house. The ground floor is my studio, first and second floor I live with my husband and son.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
I do not know if anyone ever said it to me but I do know that it is: work from the heart. Do not listen to people and all their (well meant) advices, especially when it has to do with commerce. Such as: you should make smaller canvases, why don’t you make portraits you are so good in painting people ( painting realistic), why so dark etc etc. Nevertheless I do sell paintings big and small with subjects I thougt I would never sell….

Why do you make art?
In the end I think it is because otherwise I would feel incomplete. Without creating I only would live half. And maybe it is also a way of escaping from living routinely? By keeping on asking yourself questions.

Art school or self-taught?
Art school


Prefer to work with music or in silence?
Both, sometimes this stupid radio, as long as I do not have to make choices which station. It is a kind of wallpaper music. But more and more I work in silence.

Everyone has a vice. Care to call yourself out?
I like wine too much? Some people find me direct/ straight. This can be unpleasant though it does not bother me. I do not like feigning/pretending (how do you say?).

Favorite sound?
Birds early in the morning

Favorite smell?
Good coffee

Who are your favorite writers?
Dostojevski, Remarque, Slauerhoff, Myśliwski

What could you not do without? Humour

Food or sleep?

Greatest achievement?
Giving birth to my son

Would you rather be able to make a living as an artist now or become famous after you die?
The first.

Astrology or astronomy?
Definitely not astrology!

Would you ever figure model naked?

Religion or pop culture?
Interested in both. Religion not as a believer, I am not, but as a fact of life we have to deal with.

What do you collect?
Art, at least I try to, if the money permits. Books.

Favorite contemporary artist?
In random order: Natasja Kensmil, David Hockney, David Korty, William Monk, James Kerry Marshall, Chris Ofili, Peter Doig, Daniel Richter, Tal R, Wilhelm Sasnal

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?
‘The Waltz’, Camille Claudel

Which living or dead artist would you most like to meet?
Goya and Friedrich

Use anything other than paint?
Ink, charcoal, oil pastel, resin

Figurative or abstract?
Doesn’t matter.

Photo references?
Yes, useful tools

Is painting dead?
No, it never will.

Favorite brush?
No, I am a barbarian when it concerns brushes

Palette knifes?
No, not on the canvas

What do you wear while you paint?
I try to put on overalls, I don’t always succeed, I think I don’t have any trousers without paint on them…

Painting Inside or Outside?

Monet or Manet?
I hesitate, but in the end I choose Monet because I saw once his Water Lilies at Musée d’Orsay, I was completely confused.