Almost thirty years ago, Andy Braitman came to North Carolina to participate in a visiting artist program. Considering himself a true visitor, Andy had no intention of staying in the city. Luckily his plans didn’t get in the way of his fate as an artistic staple in Charlottes art community. We can all thank Carol, Andy’s wife, for drawing Andy into Charlotte and making him a proud, permanent resident. If you aren’t familiar with Andys art, you are most likely familiar with the artwork of one of his many students, whose portfolios are sprinkled all over our citys studios and galleries. It almost seems, that to be a well known artist in Charlotte, you must take a class at Andy Braitman’s art studio.
Andy Braitman Studios currently has 150 or so enrolled students ranging from teenagers to adults. Class subjects are expansive, from landscapes to the nude figure and student levels ranging from beginner to expert. Just as art is subjective, so is the way in which it can be taught. Just because you take a lesson from Andy Braitman, doesn’t mean you will produce paintings exactly like that of Andy Braitman. Instead, he gives you the tools and instruction to paint exactly as you were born to, in your own individual style. Andy believes that people come to him to learn and it his job to match their personality with a style or painting approach that fits because your emotional approach to the world is directly related to your individual approach to painting. “I think your artwork comes from where you are naturally going anyways, as opposed to something that is forced. None of us know where we are going to go. We kind of fall this way or that.”
Andys artistic path has spanned over forty years, has taken him all over the world, and has been recognized with countless awards and accolades. His successful career, and his desire to create art, began in a very unexpected place right before enrolling at the University of Maryland, where art became a part of his daily life. It all began at a blues club Andy frequented, where, there on the wall hung a painting by Clyfford Still. “I suppose that painting was my real introduction to the art world. It wasnt long after, that I stopped going to the blues club and started going to the Phillips Museum to spend my time.”
Andy Braitman claims that at first, painting wasn’t his strong suit. In fact, a professor of his encouraged him to stick to drawing and printmaking. Andy didn’t listen and continued on his artistic course. Only the artist can point themselves in the direction that they intend on going. In the beginning of his career, Andy painted non-representational art. Something, at the time, that spoke to his artistic voice. He realized soon how difficult it was for the viewer to connect organically with a subject matter that they didn’t necessarily get. I know that no one cares about the art as much as the artist does and I’ve learned how to accept that and tailor my work so that the audience can see what I see, rather than trying to force the audience to care as I care.
His current artistic inspiration can be traced to the very beginning. Born in Casper, Andy had an early exposure to the beautiful back country of Wyoming. Jokingly claiming that he learned to fly fish before walking, Andys connection to nature has been a huge inspiration throughout his life. Luckily for us, North Carolina provides an abundance of beautiful outdoor subject matter for Andy to explore.“I am fascinated by Mans relationship to Nature. There are very few straight lines in nature, so when you see them it is likely that they are man made. It seems that those straight lines always fail in the face of nature. I like to find that place where straight lines begin to erode and try to play with the random chaos of nature and the attempted control when man takes hold of it.”
Andy’s landscapes are not a direct interpretation of the natural subject but a loose one. He has found a way to explore the theory that interests him while appealing to the audience, an aspect of his painting that has taken him forty years to perfect. He uses a lot of paint and medium to create movement and texture. His brushstrokes are seemingly effortless but at the same time direct and purposeful. He perfectly describes his current art as Aggressive Impressionistic Landscapes. “I’ve been in this career for 40 years and things have changed greatly along the way. I feel like I’ve found a a way to create the work that I love without alienating the viewer. The delicate dance to create within the bounds of my interests and the bounds of an ever-changing world is a strange thing, and I hope that I am doing it well.”
Art by Andy Braitman can be found at Shain Gallery or on his website www.andybraitman.com. To learn more about his studio and classes or to see some of his work visit Andy online at www.braitmanstudio.com.