In her very fine visual memoir, painter LeeAnn Brook weaves tales about creativity that go deep into her own process. Each image in the book has a story, and a history that links it to other images and to the artist’s life and her previous work.
The beauty of Brook’s work is unassailable, and the level of craft is obvious on every page. Nature is her muse, particularly rivers, ponds, and trees. Brook grew up in New England in a small town and her visual loves originate in an unspoiled landscape.
This book is a brave, intimate look at the life of a painter, at the roots of her creativity, and at how she sees the world. What fascinates me is the story of the artist behind the images – the woman who owned a business, raised two daughters, and in the midst of a very successful career as a graphic designer, picked up a paint brush again and never looked back.
I have known LeeAnn Brook for more than 35 years. In 1978, we shared an office space and collaborated on marketing and PR projects together. LeeAnn was a graphic designer and a businesswoman. I was a writer. Her drive, energy and dedication were obvious. She took gorgeous photos of the area around Nevada City, California in the Sierra Nevada foothills where we lived.
She took equally gorgeous photos of the products we were pitching, and her business became a huge success.
But Brook is not one to rest on her laurels. Her creative restlessness and drive push her to find new means of expression. She had studied painting in art school and never lost her love for the medium, particularly acrylics. It was a happy day for art lovers when she picked up her brushes again. For Brook, there are no half measures. She soon found a studio space where she can spread out and work on large scale canvases inspired by her beloved Yuba River, local ponds, trees, and gardens.
LeeAnn made my daughter Maya’s Halloween costume. And a small painting of Maya’s saying, “That’s The Way Life Lives,” the inspiration for the title of this blog.
In addition to her artistic talent, Brook is a very fine writer. In the Afterword to the text I was struck by her use of the metaphor of Aspens to describe the creative process. Aspens grow in a circular pattern with a root system that feeds each tree, creating a kind of “theoretical immortality.”
In her words: “Inspiration is a continuous loop like Aspen trees popping up through the mountains, one source feeding another, creating beauty in perpetuity.”