Pete Brown – Painter
Sharing Something Beautiful
As the son of a fisherman, Pete Brown spent a lot of time on the river during his childhood. He began drawing at age five, and by the time he was six, his grandmother gave him the book How To Draw by Jon Gnagy. “When I was in second grade,” Brown recalls, “I won a blue ribbon at the county fair for a drawing of a train station, which was one of the lessons from the book.” He continued to focus on drawing until he was 19, when he painted his first oil painting of his father’s workboat, Sugarbabe. “It was a big hit for [a] Christmas present, so I followed up each year with another nautical painting,” Brown says. These paintings were displayed in his family’s seafood restaurant in Maryland.
But as life continued and Pete grew busier, his painting time was brushed aside. He spent forty years managing radio stations and working as a national representative for television stations. During that time, he admits, “I only did a few paintings. It was hard to find the time to break out materials inside the house to work. The urge to paint, however, was always there.” As retirement crept closer, Brown thought more about painting full-time. Slowly, he began to paint more often, saying, “It was one thing I could control in a world of uncertainty.”
Brown studied painting through Braitman Studios for four years. Just recently, he completed an artist-in-residence program also through Braitman Studios. He has been focusing on “loosening up and becoming more ‘painterly.’” He says has learned that “the less detail I try to do, the more engaged my viewers become.” Brown paints for five hours four to five times a week, but he tries to keep his weekends open to spend time with his wife. “Painting is a very solitary process and can be a little selfish. I zone out and get lost in the world I’m creating,” he says.
Although he has used acrylics and watercolor, and he still sketches, 90 percent of his artwork is done in oils. He still pulls a lot of inspiration from nautical scenes, but he admits, “It’s tough to sell boat paintings 300 miles inland.” He has had to find additional sources of inspiration, which he says he has found in barns and farms. “I live beside a dairy farm,” Brown says. “We have many farms in the area.”
In addition, Brown just opened an art gallery in Concord. The Sundae Art Gallery opened on June 14 with its first show: “Eight Ways from Sundae,” which features artists and instructors of the Braitman Studio’s artists-in-residence program from the last three years. Opening night of the Sundae Art Gallery was a success, hosting 120 people for the evening. “People were very complimentary about the art work and the gallery space,” Brown says. He plans to offer a new show every month on Second Fridays.
Brown’s own studio is currently under construction beside the Sundae Art Gallery. He plans to teach and offer painting classes. “I’m honored that people have asked me to teach them. My goal each is to help them find their voices,” Brown says.
His newest paintings are usually displayed at Ruby’s Gift in the NODA district of Charlotte. He recently had a solo display at the Stanly Agri Civic Center in Albemarle. Most of his paintings cost between $300 and $500, but he also sells smaller pieces for $100 and larger pieces for up to $900. “I want to keep [my paintings] affordable. Each is painted out of a need to share something. If it connects, I want the person to be able to buy it.”