To open one’s eyes to animal beauty
SASKATOON, SK | MARCH 2022
Even though she’s only been painting pets for the last five years, Brooklyn Hill has always been an artistic person. Being a shy and “weird” kid who made art, practiced fencing, and moved often, she found it hard to connect with people. Painting then became her way to express herself and escape from the world. At the time, she was obsessed with wolves and would incorporate them in every drawing. But she also did portraits of actors and small landscapes. It wasn’t until a friend asked if she could draw a pet portrait that it became something she started to get more into.
“When I first started, I got little to no recognition and was told art was a waste of time. Regardless, animal paintings were something I was passionate about and enjoyed doing in my past time. It kind of stuck with me and became a staple of my name and the work I do.” One only has to take a quick glance at her work to notice the precision and the attention to details she puts into it, which raises her paintings to another level of realism. “There is definitely something more stimulating in painting animals with fur as there are so many layers and strokes of hair to create the image alone. I love getting lost in details and that’s why I like doing realism. The longer you stare at it, the more you get lost in it. I use blues and purples in some of my portraits that you won’t notice at a quick glance, but the longer you stare, the more these colours come out.”
“However, the key to a successful animal portrait is not only the fur but also the eyes. Eyes are the gateway to the soul; they express the personality and life of the animal. As someone who has lost pets before, I would want the portrait to reflect my pet’s personality. Anyone can make a portrait of said breed, but that isn’t their pet. With my portraits, I talk with my clients about the personality of their pets to try to get a feel of it. This way, I can translate that into the portrait through the eyes, which is why it’s important to get them just right.”
Brooklyn Hill also remembers that in the school she graduated from, she had an amazing art teacher who not only encouraged art but opened her eyes to the beauty behind each medium; a mentality that is now reflected in her personal work. “I had only worked with graphite and charcoal before I started playing with acrylic. And to get into oils, it can be rather expensive off the bat. Luckily enough, I was gifted a Gamblin oil paint starter set, and I immediately fell in love with the boldness of the pigments and how buttery the actual paint was compared to acrylics.” She in fact only recently started to use colour pencils and oil painting, a choice that not only changed the look of her work, but also helped her to grow as an artist. “Using two complete opposite mediums has its benefits, compared to sticking to one medium. Painting has helped me gain more knowledge through colour theory, layering, and helped me to not rush through my work, while colour pencil has helped me with accuracy in detail and having a steady hand.”
Brooklyn Hill is indeed what we could call a self-taught artist, which only adds to the singular feel that emanates from her work. “I’m not one for watching tutorials or having someone tell me how to do it. Just because a method works for someone doesn’t mean that method is going to work for me. I think my brain works rather differently than most artists. I do follow a lot of artists who specialise in realism work, and I try to dissect their paintings and figure out into a « formula » how to achieve the look of a texture or certain details, and from there, it’s just a matter of trial and error.” This organic approach to art is in part what allows her to have a familiar relationship with her clients. This way, people are also interested in her creative process, and Brooklyn isn’t shy to let people into her studio via Internet. “I started doing live streams last year. They help my work reach a larger audience, from people who enjoy art to my followers and people who want to learn. It gives my audience a chance to understand what goes into each portrait and allows them to connect not only with my work, but also allows them to get to know me on a more personal level.” Trust and honesty are an important part of Brooklyn’s process, as she values her client’s satisfaction and the lasting quality of her paintings. “I want my art to last years to come and still look the same from the day I completed it.”