What makes a piece of art special? In Brook Lancaster’s case, it’s her. When I spoke to the artist from her home studio in the Savannah-area, I was immediately struck by the fact that she sounded exactly how her art looked: vibrant. What surprised me was her story, that over the course of a year or so, has unraveled like a fairytale.
By trade, Lancaster was a hair stylist and makeup artist. When the coronavirus pandemic forced her into quarantine, like many women around the country, she found herself dropping her profession for stay-at-home motherhood. As the mother of a 5-year old and almost 2-year old, she could have easily become a woman entrenched in the trials, albeit joy, of being a caretaker of little ones. Instead, she found balance and became an artist.
Lancaster had dabbled in art throughout her life, making pieces for family and friends, but she never pursued it on a professional level. When she began to paint more seriously, she drew inspiration from things that were familiar to her: chairs gifted to her from her grandfather, memories of helping her grandmother hang clothes to dry on the clothesline and the female form. As she would paint, like many artists, she piled up paint on wooden painter’s pallets. Unlike many artists, she kept the pallets.
“I thought they were too pretty to throw away,” admitted Lancaster with a cheerful laugh.
Initially, she framed a few pallets in shadow boxes to display in her home. When the pallets began to grow in number, she turned her thoughts to more functional uses and decided to turn them into jewelry.
“I cut the pendants that I will use directly from the pallet and coat them in resin,” she explained.
The pendants become bracelets, earrings and necklaces, sometimes surrounded by beads that she specifically orders from women-owned, environmentally sustainable companies.
“Every single piece is so different,” said Lancaster. “When you own one, it’s not the same as anyone else’s.”
Lancaster’s painted canvases are equally as unique. Despite being an artist-in-bloom, she has found a style that is notably hers.
“I have found that my style is my colorful work and I have found comfort in that,” she said.
Whether Lancaster is painting a piece of furniture with a shadow, a swimsuit draped on a clothesline or a landscape of row crops, there’s a congruency that exists that makes every piece a part of a larger body of work that simply represents her, her femininity and her zest for life. In just a year, she has honed a characteristically unique style of bright colors, bold and confident strokes, and abstractly geometric shapes that are sophisticated, yet casual.
Photos Courtesy of Brooke Lancaster
“I once tried to paint with neutral colors and I can’t,” said Lancaster. “Nothing in my world looks neutral.”
Lancaster’s almost fearless use of color evokes a sense of wonder, but also makes you feel like you are looking at an old, black and white photograph that has been painted from memory in color. Her work’s aesthetic is welcoming, with a context that is simple, which is refreshing by comparison amidst an art scene that can often feel abstruse.
“I genuinely love and have come to appreciate simpler times; I feel like everything is getting really complicated and sensitive,” said Lancaster of the inspiration for her style that one can interpret as a juxtaposition for her work’s uncomplicated nature.
Lancaster’s talent is as natural as her subjects and her instinctive ability to transform everyday objects and also create sustainable fashion leaves little room to wonder why she has become an overnight success. Quite simply, she just has “it” and that “it” factor has been recognized by buyers and galleries locally and beyond in Texas, Washington, D.C., and even Canada.
“It just happened in the blink of an eye,” she recalled.