“The world will not (and should not) settle for warmed-over mediocrity. Artists were made to be extraordinary”
Lewis Braswell defines himself as a Christian artist who seeks “to remind the viewer of his or her relationship in the divine dialogue among God and people”. His work —inspired by the Renaissance masters— explores the human male figure as well as the meaning of manhood, expressed primarily with charcoal and washes on surfaces.
This talented artist has always been fascinated by the way the human body can tell a story and this became his passion. Braswell was born in North Carolina, got a bachelor degree in Science in Religion at the University of Mount Olive and recently earned his bachelor of Fine Art at the University of Central Florida. He has participated in several exhibitions and has worked as Art Gallery Assistant and Art Teacher and Instructor.
In this Q&A artist Lewis Braswell shares with PoseSpace how he combines art and religion, the challenges he faces with the nude figure and how he learned to appreciate cinema and video games:
What are your goals or aspirations as an artist?
As an artist with a basis in faith, I seek to mimic the Creator by acting creatively. I try to choose subject matter that gives the most effective means of doing this and in this way I worship the Creator. Ultimately, the art must reflect my heart and be clearly evident to the viewer. If this does not happen, the art is a failure.
Do you have a favorite living artist, whether famous or completely unknown?
Undoubtedly, my favorite artist is Michelangelo. His work is completely descriptive of what is necessary for any artist to expect of him or herself. Michelangelo saw the best of what was around him and made it better in his own work. That is what today’s artists have to keep in mind. The world will not (and should not) settle for warmed-over mediocrity. Artists were made to be extraordinary.
What challenges do you face working with the nude figure?
The nude figure provides for me the most timeless and expressive way in which to engage a viewer. The challenge, given the complexity of the figure, is in moving the viewer beyond what may be understood as familiar and requiring that they ask the tough questions that he or she may be avoiding. Because the human body can be used to represent something literal as well as something ideal or symbolic, there often arises difficulty in an interpretation. My preference is that the art will speak beyond any hesitancy in comprehension and meet the viewer at exactly that point of resonance.
How do you use PoseSpace.com’s photos?
I have tried to learn how to represent the figure through several means and the photos have been key in my initial understanding of anatomy and movement. In referencing these photos, I have repeatedly found that my later drawings from imagination have a much higher level of information to provide. PoseSpace and the Art Model Books are really providing some of the absolute best resource material for artists of the figure. I tell drawing students about them all the time.
How do you start drawing — do you have any rituals?
Beginning a drawing is very special and may be different each time. The surface material upon which I work usually initiates a direction and gives information on my choice of medium. It is significant to me how I find this material. I often look for suitable drawing surface material in the trash and the discovery of a something useful is, to me, priceless. The size of the surface material is also very important and a formulation of possible compositions may develop just from understanding the dimensions. All of this takes place both physically and mentally before any kind of mark is made on the surface material, but I see it as beautiful and necessary. Basically, I try to let the surface have the first say in what develops.
Tell us one thing you thought you knew, that it later turned out you were wrong about
Lately, I have been forced to recognize the artistic elements of cinema and video games. I am such a traditionalist that for a long time it was inconceivable for me to acknowledge these contemporary methods of visual artmaking. However, in learning the level of dedication and persistence of the workers in these fields and in experiencing some quality pieces for myself, I must say that I am sometimes very impressed.
Lewis Braswell’s website: https://lewisbraswell.wixsite.com/artist
Interview by Andrea Miliani