Lasting Impressions with Amanda Brooks
Georgia Beard discovers how our cover artist’s abstract and impressionist landscapes speak to human perspectives in all their diversity.
Tucked deep within the lush bushland of Doonan, Amanda Brooks captures the fleeting forms of the natural world from her shed-turned-sanctuary.
Vines creep through the gaps between the walls and roof, reflecting her overgrown canvases below. Pots of oils and acrylics crowd the workbenches, bouquets of brushes perch next to half-finished landscapes, and no surface is without a splatter of paint.
Much preferring to express herself rather than exhibit, she has all the makings of a reclusive artist. But her command of texture and colour tells me she isn’t withdrawn from the world but earnestly immersed in it.
Born in South Africa to a family of artists, musicians and dance choreographers, Amanda grew up with creativity eager to escape from her fingertips.
“Even as a toddler, I would be running around with crayons and pencils,” she said. “Then at school I was very involved in art, taking any opportunity to do school murals or make-up design for school concerts.
“Sometimes my dad and I would choose someone to paint a portrait of, and we would each do our own interpretation of them.”
Holding the arts in high esteem, Amanda’s parents encouraged her to pursue a career in creativity. But her degree in graphic design ended abruptly when economic downturns drove her family to the Sunshine Coast in the 90s.
While studying floristry for her job in a gift boutique on Hastings Street, she absorbed the coastal surrounds and released them into watercolour landscapes of Laguna Bay.
Sheraton Noosa Resort & Spa (now Sofitel Noosa Pacific Resort) soon purchased her work as gifts for guests, giving her the confidence she needed to invest in art as a career path.
“I started with water-based paints with transparent layers and then I adapted that style to acrylic, which is textured and thick,” she said.
Switching to vast canvases, she developed a translucent balance between watercolour and acrylic, building upon layer after layer in abstract strokes.
“You develop a style and refine it over time, but sometimes you need to pull it back and go back to where you started, because there’s a looseness and a freedom in that without overworking it,” she said.
“I usually work on four or five paintings at one time because I have to wait for layers of paint to dry.
“It keeps me productive but also keeps it interesting when I get to bounce between different artworks.
“Even though I’m working every day and it can be quite labour-intensive, it’s also therapeutic. It’s an escape that removes you from every-day hardships, and it must reflect my feelings.”
When she stands before a canvas, her process is one of intuition and improvisation. All she needs is eye-catching reference or an evocative range of colours before she transforms broad strokes into detailed impressionist scenes.
From intricate florals and fruits to native birds perched on branches to sprawling countryside landscapes, each painting is imbued with depth and movement we sense more than we see.
Our cover art, Blossoming Eucalyptus, is a joyful explosion of colour – teal upon gold upon magenta upon sage, visualising the human encounter with a eucalyptus in bloom rather than the natural process itself.
This is the experience at heart of Amanda’s artistic practice: the fluid relationship we share with our environment, one we never interpret the same way twice.
“I’m a bit of a chameleon with my art,” she said. “I like the diversity of creating lots of different things to keep it interesting and cater to people’s wants and needs rather than just a niche market.”
In Amanda’s industry, to commission a painting is to take a leap of faith. She urges her clients to trust her vision for the final piece rather than restrict her creativity – a release that often excites her buyers.
“Most of the artworks people purchase for a sentimental reason,” she explains.
“I don’t want people to buy the artwork to match the couch – I want them to buy the artwork because they want that as an heirloom piece to keep forever or to pass on.”
Aside from personal commissions, Amanda has collaborated with global fashion and homewares companies to develop prints.
After exhibiting in festivals such as Noosa Open Studios, she’s looking ahead to Affordable Art Fair and the potential to privately open her studio.
No matter which eyes pass over Amanda’s artwork, each of us will find ourselves in the same play of pattern, colour and light just as she does – a connection she innately understands and one she will capture for years to come.