Carolyn Brady was born in Chickasha, Oklahoma in 1937. She died in 2005. She received her B.F.A. and M.F.A. from the University of Oklahoma at Norman.
Carolyn Brady works exclusively in watercolor, exploring three main themes in her painting: still lifes or tablescapes; flower-filled gardens; interior still lifes combined with vistas from nature and the out-of-doors. While these themes recur in the artistâ€™s work, it is the subject of light and the architecture of creating a painting that provide a framework for each of the artistâ€™s images.
Bradyâ€™s paintings of the past several years have concentrated on the tablescape, the artistâ€™s personal view of the table set at lunch or dinner, with the meal half-eaten; the table filled with a pitcher of flowers, the daily mail, a tin of cookies-the stuff of life, all lit by sunshine that enters the window behind the table; the table as a stage for lifeâ€™s rituals. In her new tablescapes, Brady takes color to a new level, pushing its intensity, pulling its contrasts and enhancing our perception of reality by the heat of her palette.
Bradyâ€™s monotypes have a life of their own, more expressive and impressionistic than her carefully rendered watercolors, on which she worked for several months at a time. The media are different, each demanding in its own way; when Brady painted in watercolor she kept the brush dry so that the paint was immediately absorbed into the paper, using what she called â€œbits of paintâ€ to create an image. The rigors of the monotype process required the artist to paint with ink on a metal plate, and complete the image within a day so that the plate could then be run through the press with the ink still wet. The â€œpaintingâ€ the artist created on the plate was imbedded on the paper in reverse when being run through the press, thus the left side appeared on the right side of the finished monotype.
Brady was known for her garden and still life watercolors, which are close-in views of tabletops, tablescapes, incorporating the ordinary stuff of life: books, letters, postcards, hand bags, luncheon finery, plates, glasses, napkins, cutlery, and the leftovers of a meal. In â€œPurple Beans,â€ 1981, a plate of glistening purple beans from the artistâ€™s garden, two cut-crystal vases of orange flowers, a bowl of ripe peaches and plums, a crystal cake plate holding a stack of mail—letters and cards—bedeck a table covered with a green tablecloth with white appliquÃ©d flowers. The fruits tell us the season is summer, the joy of its produce manifest in the tableâ€™s offerings. Adding to the brilliant palette is the artistâ€™s blue wall, the backdrop for this summer repast.