About Art interview with Mark Brennan, new exhibition “Touching the Wild Within” opens Canada Day

Mark Brennan July 2013

Mark Brennan is a renowned visual artist from Pictou County. As a landscape painter and naturalist, he has traveled to wilderness areas across Canada leading him on a path to self-discovery. His art comes from connecting with nature. A new exhibition of his recent works will be featured at the Fraser Cultural Center, 362 Main Street, Tatamagouche from July 1st-20th. “Touching the Wild Within” explores the lost ‘wild’ part of the human condition. The opening reception is July 1st at 7pm and everyone is invited to attend and meet the artist.

Why do you make art?

I think we are all born artists. You just have to watch a child interact with their surroundings to get an idea of how we use creativity to explore and understand the world. So I think my own work is an extension of that child like mind, a continuation of wanting to understand and interact with life in a meaningful way, to continue to learn more.

What’s integral to the work of an artist?

For any artist it is important to ask questions. Questions offer us insight to be able to explore our journey with a depth and awareness we may not have come to realize before. For me it’s like peeling back layers until I find an answer or sorts. So my work is a part of this process, I use painting and other forms of expression as the pathway to living with more humility, in a sense I am deepening my relationship with all life by asking questions.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

I was friends with David Orton for many years, he was a deep green philosopher and supporter of the Deep Ecology movement in Pictou County. David had a profound effect on my work and my understanding of ‘how’ to live in a more meaningful way. He also taught me to not be afraid to seek my own direction, when you understand this, it is very empowering. My friendship with David stripped away much of the veneer that society wants us to carry around. When I was young, David helped me to untangle myself from consumerism and consumption and to find an incredible amount of fulfilment in the smallest things in nature. His advice was simple, “Learn to think for yourself.”

Professionally, what’s your goal?

I have thought about this a great deal. If you were to have asked me years ago I would have had grand ideas on being in a permanent collection somewhere or to have a show in a major gallery. The truth is my professional goals are now simply to continue exploring my life through art. I don’t expect to ever be seen as ground breaker in the world of landscape painting, even in Nova Scotia, much of it has been done. There is a sense of freedom though, when you are not striving to be included in collections or having major shows. It allows me to just do the work and this is the most important part for me at this time in my life. If anything I would like to be more of a voice for Nature, to speak for those species, landscapes and beings who don’t have a voice. These things are far more important than any painting I could produce. When I am dead and buried, if there is a general consensus that I tried to do my bit in stemming the demise of the planet then that is good enough.

Where else can we find you?

I currently have a website www.markbrennanfineart.ca

Links to this week’s About Art columns: