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William R Brion

Meet William R Brion, from San Clemente. William came to California in 1952 where he enjoyed growing up on the cliffs above the beach at Agate Street in Laguna Beach. William’s work is an expression of his love for the local coastline and has been exhibited in many area galleries and his photography has been shown at The Laguna Museum of Art. Most recently he was featured at the Festival of Art in Laguna Beach.

Company Name: William R Brion Fine Art

Preferred Medium: Oil

Favorite Tools: My adjustable pole. I use this adjustable aluminum pole to rest my painting hand just above the canvas surface to calm a jittery hand. I place it right at my feet just inside the easel stand and rest it against the tray just below the painting canvas. I had cancer 25 years ago and the Chemo severely damaged my nervous system making my hand unsteady. This “tool” has made painting details possible.

I also wear two pairs of reading glasses to allow me to get right up close to do finish details. I wear one pair with a neoprene band in back to hold them up on my nose so they are comfortable and just drop the second pair inside the first from the top and “voila”, a comfortable solution for long term detail painting!

What would you call your ‘style’? I have a deep love for the Impressionists and also for architecture in general, especially when it fits well in its environmental surroundings. My houses have strong, sharp lines and it is in the plants and cliffs that I try to exhibit my devotion to the impressionistic vision of the texture and flow in nature. I call my style Impressionistic Realism.

What are you currently working on? I am currently working on a coastal landscape of the Keyhole rock formation at Cactus Point looking from the Pearl Street side south through to Woods Cove in Laguna Beach, CA. This is the beach where I grew up so I have been waiting to jump at the opportunity to put my childhood beach to canvas. The composition is really exciting and is a composite of several different photos from different days blended together to tell a compelling story.


What is a favorite piece of art you created and why? My favorite piece is difficult to separate from others unless it is judged solely on overall appeal. I take great effort to make all my paintings devoid of dead areas and try to give the viewer a sensory excursion over the entire work. With that standard I would have to select, “The Ark at Moss Street” as the painting that comes closest to that desire to cover the canvas with compelling subject composition and delightful textures in the surrounding cliff vegetation. The house is incredible with its nautical motif and the beach pathways are a sensory overload! You cannot absorb this painting in just a couple of minutes.


Another favorite of mine is a recent painting of, “Beach Pad at Crystal Cove”. This cabin, right on the beach, had these old red metal chairs right near the front door, that totally caught my eye and from that point it was just deciding where the best angle would be to capitalize on these items of a time gone by. I finally decided the best angle was with the picket fenced wall facing me and let the great surrounding angles and planes set the table to tell the story.

Who are your art heroes? My favorite historical art heroes would be Claude Monet, and Vincent Van Gogh, if, you are looking at their total body of work. Monet’s “Hay Stacks” under different lighting conditions and Van Gogh’s textural approach send my senses into high gear! My greatest experience was seeing the heavenly inspired work of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel in Italy. My life heroes are those generous artists that openly share their knowledge with others. Of special mention I would like to mention Scott Moore whose tutorials on his website have taught me many techniques that would have taken much time to learn through trial and error. Other artists are Plein Air artist friends of mine; Mark Fehlman, Daniel Aldana, and futuristic artist Paul Bond. All have helped me progress quickly due to their artistic generosity. I try to help all those that ask questions about my techniques as a way to pay forward for my own blessings.

What qualities make your art distinctively you? My mixture of realism and Impressionism is a novel approach to giving attention to the architectural presentation yet allowing flexibility in presenting the asymmetrical ” reality”, pardon the pun, of nature with all it’s flowing textures and lack of predictable presence. I make almost all of my own greens from combinations of blues and yellows, using the reds and browns to mute the brilliance. One of my artist friends brought it to my attention that the human eye can perceive more greens than any other color due to our genetic attention for finding food! My seven years as a lead gardener for the Laguna Beach Parks Department gave me great insight to Laguna Coastline plants and tree types, and most importantly, their colors and how they grow.

Where do you create? I paint in my master bedroom which looks out over the canyon towards the ocean in San Clemente, CA. I don’t know if it’s Feng Shui or not but I have had opportunities to move my easel elsewhere but I just feel comfortable in that corner doing my work. We all have our spot and this is mine!

When do you create? My paintings take a long time to complete so that makes me a studio painter by trade. I take photographs mostly during my favorite time of day- in the morning when colors are rich and shadows cast themselves across the landscape. I actually paint in the afternoon after 2 pm until about 5 or 6 pm. The lingering effects of Chemo has limited the amount of time I can sit without discomfort interfering. I try to make up for it by painting more days in the week. Also, I find that my mind is clearest then because I have taken care of my daily “to do” list by that time.

Do you sketch or keep an idea journal? Once I have decided on the general composition site, It is usually going through related photos to decide what I want to omit or include to strengthen the composition. My small pad is where I take notes as to color mixes I use for certain plants and the various colors used along the coastline. This is especially helpful when I’m making a special green and I return later to put in finishing touches.


What do you do when you hit a creative block? I usually have so many ideas for new paintings that I rarely experience a “block”. Where I may get bogged down is when I know a value isn’t correct or a color is off and I try to visualize the correct color needed to bring the painting back on track. I have solved this problem to a great extent by making one area the value focal point and adjust all others back to this “key” thus minimizing the number of adjustments overall.

Do you have any special techniques your would like to share? I discussed my adjustable pole that I use to mitigate my hand infirmity and my double glasses I wear to allow me to paint relatively, and, very close to the canvas. Add to those the use of a “key” location to use as a compass for value adjustments, and lastly, the life knowledge that I accumulated over seven years as a Parks Gardener for Laguna Beach. Life experience and the sharing with others and their life experiences add great potential to any artist.


A Place to Rest—This is a composite of three photos taken on different days, the house, the couple at the base of the steps to add balance, and the addition of the dog facing the couple to create a pleasant moment.

Do you teach? I don’t teach classes per say but I teach as others seek knowledge from me. I always try to make time for inquisitive young artists and try to emphasize the importance of freely passing on whatever I teach them. Because of the immense amount of time my paintings require and my own physical limitations, teaching classes would be very difficult. I also believe greatly in allowing the natural progression of talent to grow freely, asking for help when one gets stuck.

What do you listen to when you create? I listen to my collection of music I have stored on my IPod which is broken up into groups so I can listen to many different genres on different days!

Shabby Gentility—This graceful tree was near death when I photographed this cabin. I photographed the foliage of nearby trees and used the information to re-foliate the near death tree in the composition. The tree has since been removed and lost forever.

Shabby Gentility—This graceful tree was near death when I photographed this cabin. I photographed the foliage of nearby trees and used the information to re-foliate the near death tree in the composition. The tree has since been removed and lost forever.

What other things do you like to do creatively? I collect Sports cards because it was something I did with my kids when they were young and I just continued to enjoy it as the years have gone by. It’s like having a collection of small paintings that can grow valuable over time. I tell my wife it’s a good thing I don’t collect cars!

Tell us about any commercial art endeavors: I try to focus on my paintings and having a good assortment for the coming Festival of Arts each year. The blessing of being retired allows me the great opportunity to try to create something very special with each and every painting without regard to the need to sell the painting for income. I understand well that this is a blessing. I also have been slowly growing my own collection of art focusing on new artists that I find compelling.

Learn more about William on his website or find him on Facebook.


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