Interview: The Powerful Darkness of Jason Brady’s Charcoal Drawings.
by Daniel Haim
Jason was inspired by his uncle, Joe Brady, to become an artist. He began training in classical Russian academic drawing and painting with Vyacheslav Shevchenko in 2008. In 2012 Anthony Waichulis accepted him as an apprentice of Ani Art Academy. Jason’s charcoal drawings are muddled glimpses into his convoluted reality.
Where are you from? Where did all of this begin?
An impossible series of occurrences led me to this path. This all began in northeastern Pennsylvania, where I still live. While in college for sustainable agriculture I sustained a shoulder injury and hearing disorder. My mind and body being a bit tattered, I reconsidered life and started studying classical Russian drawing and painting with Vyacheslav Shevchenko. Later I attended the local community college for visual arts where my eccentric uncle, who has been taking classes there for over 13 years, told me about a former teacher of the college living up the mountains who was a master tromp l’oeil painter. Intrigued, I followed up on this lead which led me to the front door of the Ani Art Academy. In early 2012 Anthony accepted me as his apprentice where I continue to hone my skills under his guidance.
When did you realize that art is what you were meant to do?
My earliest memory I can recall is of me sketching, it was a drawing of a lion if you must know. When I began serious training as an artist my perceptions began to drastically change. This is around the time when I realized I wanted to paint for the rest of my life. I was becoming more aware of the ordinary beauty that always surrounds me which I continually overlook. That year when spring blossomed I was seeing an entirely new world realizing how transient the environment is.
Art gives me a sense of purpose. It is what truly matters. When creating I fall into a state of rapture becoming mesmerized by the lights, shadows, reflexes and the infinite subtleties of color. I become obsessed attempting to recreate what lies before me. This intense focus and concentration pushes me into a state of flow. I disappear and become what I am drawing. In a more sentimental aspect, art also gives something for me to hold on to. It strengthens my memories against an ever receding past. Sure I could take a photograph, but when I draw or paint something it becomes engraved into my brain as I study every millimeter of it. I make something where there was once a void of blank nothingness. I can never properly express myself with words, so symbols speak for me. With my pictures, I strive to hypnotize the viewer even if for just a second, possibly even change the way they momentarily see things.
Who are your major influences, inspiration in life and in the art world?
My parents who have sacrificed much are my major influence with them I would not be here, literally. My Uncle Joe will always be an inspiration. He is an artist in the truest sense with an undying passion to create to the end of his days. The life of the artist Francisco Goya is also influential. He was a Spanish romantic painter; however, having suffering from an unknown disease that left him deaf yet constantly tortured by noises in his head, he went into seclusion and painted some of his strongest works. Painting gave him a purpose and a reason to keep going. Everywhere I look I am constantly inspired by artists. A couple of old masters and a living one who have influenced me over the years are: Caravaggio, with his tenebrism; Nicolai Fechin, with his chaotic portraits; Mikhail Vrubel, with his “Seated Demon”; and Anthony Waichulis with his tromp l’oeil and intense art program.
What are some essential tools that you consider a must have for every artist?
An artist must have an unstoppable drive to work and an insatiable hunger to learn. Aside from that, ambition, passion, perception, thriftiness, empathy, curiosity, and a dash of grit would be helpful.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am beginning a large figurative drawing in charcoal. I am growing weary of black and white, so I am also in the midst of a pastel figurative work where I can experiment with subtle shifts in color.
A large portion of our audience are artists, like yourself. If you could give them one piece of advice – what would it be?
As an artist, I feel I should be better than what I am currently capable of. A friend consoled my frustrations with the following advice: “Don’t worry that you should be better. Only so much can be learned in one day. This is all you are capable of at the moment and that’s okay. Make the most out of your time and don’t waste it worrying. You should feel some contentment in what you have accomplished, but you should always strive to go beyond. Never become stagnant with complacency.” This also leads me to another point. I was told what makes a great artist is 10% talent and 90% time spent just grinding out work, so never stop growing, learning, and exploring. This might sound cliché, but it is what it is. After Michelangelo died, a note he had written to his apprentice was found reading, “Draw, Antonio, draw, Antonio, draw and do not waste time.”
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given & by whom?
Whenever I would ask my grandfather for advice he would always tell me, “You just got to roll with the punch.” The best advice I ever read was put very simply by Joseph Campbell, “Follow your bliss.”
What has been your most rewarding achievement as an artist?
It was been quite an achievement to work alongside other artists in Ani Art Academy and to see us all grow. With Anthony’s teachings I have gone beyond my perceived potential, gaining control and freedom I once thought impossible.
Could you share with us your favorite quote?
“I wish neither to possess nor be possessed.
I no longer covet paradise.
More important, I no longer fear hell…
The medicine for my suffering
I had within me from the very beginning,
But I did not take it.
My ailment came from within myself,
But I did not observe it.
Until this moment.
Now I see that I will never find the light
Unless, like the candle, I am my own fuel,
When you first started, what was your biggest dream? And have you accomplished that?
I wish to create paintings that even the gods would be envious of. I realize it might take a while to reach that level.
What are your hopes for 2013, and where do you see yourself in 5, 10 years?
I am hoping to push my abilities to the edge. I hope to continue to evolve my artistic vision by trying to capture elusive moments that give the viewer a glimpse into my convoluted reality. In 5 years I will continue to paint and hopefully be teaching as well. My teachers have made me who I am, so I wish to pass on knowledge and experience to others. 10 years is too far to call. Time will tell. Hopefully I’ll be painting an epic mural of colossal figures if I live to be that old.