Vermont Artisan Designs
106 Main Street
September 3 through October 31
DAVID BREWSTER INSISTS, “I AM NOT A LANDSCAPE PAINTER.”
He does, in fact, paint mostly
landscapes. He even has a mobile
studio, with boards, paper, paints
and tools fastidiously arranged
in the back of a pickup truck. And
Brewster is quite rigid about painting
exclusively from life, en plein air.
So how can a guy who paints
mostly landscapes claim not to be a
What Brewster means is that he
does not adhere to the conventions
of landscape painting. His work is
not “pastoral,” or “sentimental,” he
is quick to point out. “If I paint a
barn, it’s because it’s about to be
bulldozed — and the bulldozer is in
the painting,” he said.
Brewster doesn’t even use brushes.
Almost never, anyway. Gestural
plumes and slicks sweep through his
work — expressionistic elements that
can make an otherwise somnolent
scene explode with primal energy.
The scenes themselves are composed
initially with charcoals and dry
pastels. Brewster then layers washes
of liquefied pastel (dissolved in
water), and finally lays on paint
rapidly with rollers, fingers, or his
entire palm. There is almost no
brushwork; the drawing takes the
place of that. He completes larger
pieces in just a few hours, though he
may return later with the charcoals
to sharpen things up.
“I paint very quickly, to drive a
singular impulse,” he explained. No
second-guessing. He wants no “alien
intentions” to spoil the moment the
painting is meant to capture.
While Brewster generally sticks with
Vermont scenery, juxtaposing the
natural world with destructive human
influences, this exhibit features
paintings inspired by the Baltimore
fire of 1904. He recently learned
that he will receive a grant from the
Vermont Community Foundation to
paint a similar series of Montpelier,
with the Vermont State House fire of
1857 as the subject.
But how does one paint the past “en
In this case, Brewster