Ian Brownlee


Artist Resume

Artist Website

Artist Statement 

I am a muralist inspired to make art that surprises and delights.  To me a blank wall is a potential opportunity to make someone smile.  I want everything I make to be beautiful, and also to work on other levels.  With my artwork, there tends to be a story.  I use drawing and painting to create narratives that go beyond the decorative function of art.

As for materials, I use acrylics because they allow me to work at a speed that matches my thought process without sacrificing quality.  For outdoor murals I use Nova Color paints coated with a UV-resistant varnish, because I want my work to last.

Public art can serve a variety of functions: it can be used to inform, excite, calm, or create a sense of identity.  I have painted several murals in children’s hospitals, where the intention is to make the patients feel at ease.  These paintings feature bright colors and animals.  The children are often nervous to be there, and their parents point to the walls and say “See the raccoon?  What’s he doing?  See the squirrel?”  It creates a way for parents to interact with their kids that eases their worries about seeing the doctor.  The adults, including the staff, get as much enjoyment from the paintings as the children.

I tailor my working process depending on the particular demands of the project.  I began a mural at an elementary school by gathering hundreds of students’ drawings, then painted their ideas on the wall of the school.  I created a complex composition, with characters from different children’s drawings interacting with each other.  Seeing their own artwork reproduced on the wall gave the students a feeling of ownership of the project.  It is important to me that a mural reflect its community.  I was asked to paint the wall of a library in a tightly-knit African American neighborhood.  For this project I conducted personal interviews with dozens of people to get their perspectives on what made their community unique.   The murals I have painted for hospitals have mostly featured wildlife, and I have made sure that all of the plants and animals are those native to the region.  The murals for Mission Hospital’s Reuter’s Center were painted in collaboration with art-director Julia Burr.  Through this process I’ve seen how working with others can propel a project to another level.  I enjoy bouncing ideas off of people, and seeing what we can come up with together.

If there was one word that could capture the spirit of my artwork, it would be “play.”  My work is not sarcastic, and it’s not often ironic; I want to make people smile.  My hope is that people walk away from my work with an increased sense of wonder in the world around them