"I hope that my work evokes feelings of joy in each viewer. I want them to look at it and see something powerful within it."
Texture, daring colors and layers of thick sentiment are what define the artworks of American artist Piper Bridwell. Coming from a long line of creatives, Bridwell was introduced to art at an early age, but it wasn't until later that she found it to be her passion. Her works are bold, with a thick textured surface that you just want to reach out and touch. They seem deceptively minimal, yet convey an exuberance that cannot but put a smile on the viewer's face. Bridwell describes her work as an overflow from her heart to her hands - as a direct expression of her own emotions and upbeat personality.
INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST
Q. Did you always want to be an artist?
A. I had no idea that I would become an artist. My mom is an artist, so I grew up going to art shows and watching her. I was always doodling on my notebooks in school, so I guess I should have realized some artistic vibes were inside me. It wasn’t until my mid 20’s that I felt the need to create. I actually started with a furniture refurbishing business. I did that for 8 years but felt the need to create something with more meaning. This is when I turned to painting on canvas - the moment I felt the oil paint under my brush, I knew that’s what I was created to do.
Colours of Heaven, 2022
Oil on Vintage painting, Framed
Q. How did you come to incorporate picture frames into your work?
A. I inherited a piece of art after my dad passed away. It had been in the family for many years. I was not connected with the actual painting, but wanted to incorporate it into my home somehow. So, I popped a fresh canvas into the large ornate frame, and created a special contemporary piece for my family. Mixing vintage traditional with bold contemporary is exactly the style of my home and it fits in perfectly! I fell in love with the process of taking something old and bringing new life to it. It kind of reminds me of my furniture painting days. Painting on frames has brought my first love of creating (furniture), together with the deep meaningful creative process of art.
Q. Could you describe your creative process?
A. My creative process looks different for each piece. Sometimes I see paintings in my sleep and I will immediately write them down so not to forget. I will then attempt to create. Others come to me in the actual painting process. I always begin with prayers for guidance to set my heart in the right place. I paint with a heart full of gratitude. If I’m not in an expressive and inspired mode, I don’t paint that day. I think the colors, textures and even the composition of what I do in that moment are dictated by my frame of mind or mood. If I’m feeling super confident, I’ll grab hot pink, chartreuse or Phthalo green. If I’m in a more chill mode, it's usually blues.
Sunday Best, 2022
Oil on Vintage Painting, Framed
Q. What is your favourite setting to work in? Do you listen to music while you work?
A. My absolute favorite days in the studio are during thunderstorms. The gray skies and sound of rain brings a certain peaceful vibe to the studio. I always have music playing. It’s usually praise and worship or Christian rap (yes, there is some major talent)! Chris Stapleton and Judah & the Lion also make the cut quite often - only positive music in my space!
Q. Many of your works are heavily textured - how did you arrive at this technique of applying thick strokes of paint?
A. It was an accident how I stumbled upon the thick texture in my work. I purchased some impasto to make my oil paints last longer, and as I started mixing, I fell in love with the thick buttery texture I saw! I began putting it on the canvas with my palette knife and was immediately hooked. Eventually, the thick texture became the way for me to share the gratitude that was oozing from my heart! It became a central theme in my work as I realized what it represented to me.
Mixed Media with Vintage Frame
Q. It gives your work a certain tactile quality, what would you like to achieve by creating works that go beyond the two dimensional?
A. The texture can make my work feel sculptural in a way. Creating strokes so thick that shadows are created is the ultimate goal in most of my works.
Q. Do you feel like your work has undergone / is undergoing different phases artistically?
A. I absolutely feel that my work has gone through different phases. I’m constantly learning and trying new things. I think that’s the only way to grow. How boring to only create the same ideas for years. I like excitement and I get to experience that in my work daily.
Rocks of ages, 2021
Mixed Media on Canvas
Q. Your work has a playfulness to it, is this a reflection of your personality?
A. My work absolutely reflects my personality. I’m rarely in a bad mood, so my work generally feels joyful and upbeat. My heart is full of gratitude and that is reflected in my texture. The thick texture represents all that I am thankful for. The bold colours reflect my joy!
Q. Many of your works include writing - is this representative of your personal state of mind or rather meant to convey a message to the viewer.
A. The writing in my work is simply what was in my heart at that moment. Sometimes it is lyrics from a song, and others it's just a simple phrase that’s been on my mind. Most of the time, I'm having a conversation with God as I work through a painting; a word will be placed in my heart and I know it was meant for whomever the painting will belong to. Let me just tell you, there is nothing more awesome than receiving messages from collectors who find the words or phrases and tell me it touched their heart!
Q. Your work often juxtaposes vintage/classic elements with contemporary techniques - what would you like to achieve with this contrast?
A. I absolutely love creating works that are elegant with a little edge. There's just something about mixing fine oil paints in rich colors with a mix of street art vibes or funky, unexpected colours. The juxtaposition of two different styles coming together is similar to my own personal style. My work reflects my personality in every way.
Q. What would you like your work to evoke in the viewer?
A. I hope that my work evokes feelings of joy in each viewer. I want them to look at it and see something powerful within it. My hope is that viewers feel love, joy and hope in each painting.
Top Hat, 2021
Mixed Media on Canvas, Vintage Frame
Q. Have you had any surprising responses to your work?
A. The most surprising responses I’ve witnessed, was when collectors break down and cry when seeing their commissioned piece. Or just people coming into the studio and seeing the work in person and getting emotional. It touches my heart and I’m immediately reminded how important artistic expression is.
Q. Are there any artistic avenues you would still like to explore - in terms of medium, surface, or other forms of creative expression?
A. I’ve always envied those that can create realism. I’ve done a few portraits, just to see what my brain is capable of. I really enjoyed it and have thought about combining what I do now with bits of realistic expression.
Q. What other creatives inspire you?
A. I am in awe of so many other creatives. Singer Lauren Daigle is who I listen to while creating. Her lyrics speak straight to my heart. The painters who inspired me from the beginning are some of the greats like Mark Rothko, Cy Twombly, Picasso, Frida, Basquiat.
More to Say, 2021
Oil and Mixed Media on Vintage Frame
Q. What do you think are some of the main challenges facing artists today?
A. One of the main challenges artists are facing today is the competition over community. My hope is that more artists will begin to support one another rather than see each other as a threat. I love to see artists buying other artists’ work and sharing it on their social media. This world has plenty of room for us all!
Q. How has being a professional artist impacted you personally?
A. Being a professional artist has impacted not only me, but my family. We see the importance of sharing our God given gifts and talents with others. It encourages all of us to appreciate the gifts we have and teaches us to use them for good. Creating work that reflects my faith and values has impacted the way I look at life and the way I live it.
See the Light, 2022
Mixed Media on Vintage Frame
Q. What would you still like to achieve as an artist?
A. I'm not much of a goal setter, but I think every artist dreams of having a sell out show!