I first met Brenda Eastman in 2007 when she and Nickki Lee Hill were working on a project they called Wild Flowers of Weed. It was an arts presentation with images by Nickki and biographies by Brenda. The show was a powerful telling of the diverse community that is Weed, CA. Since then we have worked together on several projects. We have co-curated shows at Liberty Arts, a contemporary art gallery in Yreka and we collaborated with ceramic sculpture, Candace Miller on a show we called TriMorphic-three distinct perspectives on the human condition that traveled from Liberty Arts to the Siskiyou Arts Museum in Dunsmuir. I continue to admire Brenda’s art work and her commitment to the arts and arts scene in Siskiyou County and look forward to working with her on future projects.
Lauri: How long have you been an artist?
Brenda: I believe I've been an artist prior to any memory. Both parents are creative. There were always musical instruments around being played, something being build, crafted, or sewed. At any moment if any of us wanted to paint a watercolor for example, the materials to stretch the paper, easel, paint, brushes, and a place to do it was ready to go. Every part of my life felt creative from sewing an new garment to making tiny interiors for my Barbies. Throughout school years there were teachers along the way who recognized my direction and encouraged it or even employed it within the classroom.
Lauri: How do you keep the creative juices flowing?
Brenda: It feels like the creative juice is always there. My challenge is usually directing it towards just one projects rather than 5 at a time. I'm getting slightly better at this with age.
Lauri: Did you go to school to do what you do? What was the most valuable thing you learned?
Brenda: I did pursue art in college, although looking back I feel I did not have good direction of how I might use it in a career. The most valuable things I learned at COS were the various techniques I never would have been able to try on my own such as printmaking because of the access to large scale presses. At UC Davis I worked mostly in large scale ceramics because of the huge walk-in sized kilns available. I suppose the biggest lesson of all came after college as I tried in vain to find a job using my new art degree. Then something totally unexpected came about. An Interior design group took me in recognizing my creative skills. It was fun and a whole new set of creative knowledge I was happy to take in.
Lauri: You are a body worker doing deep tissue massage and most of your drawing are of the human form. I think it’s an interesting confluence. How does bodywork influence your artwork?
Brenda: There were a couple of major career changes that happened between 2000 and 2002. The first was an unexpected offer to do concept art for a game developer back up here in Northern California. This was a total dream job! I'd have creative meetings with the developer and then take the brainstorming to paper and bring his ideas of characters and creatures to life. At the end of '01 they lost funding and that's when I decided that in order to stay in this area I'd switch direction and get certified in Massage Therapy. It's something that had been in the back of my mind for a long time. This turned out to be a perfect marriage between my love of the figure in my art, and knowing and understanding the human machine from an anatomical perspective. Because of my hands-on understanding of muscle, bone, joints and even how the human moves, it's made me a much better figurative artist.
Lauri: What are you working on now?
Brenda: Next up, I'm finally swinging back to color and painting after many years working in black and white. I want to explore what it might look like as our human culture separates further from the natural world. I feel the more we humans detach from the part of ourselves that is animal and of this earth, the more we will lose ourselves.
Lauri: What is you favorite part of a dinner party?
Brenda: My favorite part of a dinner party is when the conversation, sharing, and comradery begins to flow, and everyone relaxes into the moment.
Vegan Breakfast Muffin
This is a nice easy recipe that can be tweaked super easy if you want to change out flour types or add goodies like nuts or dried fruit.
1 cup organic flour of choice ( I mix rice, amaranth, corn and millet flours)
1 cup organic oats
1 Tbs double acting baking powder (non-aluminum)
1 tsp Himalayan salt
1/3 cup local honey
1 smashed banana or applesauce
4 Tbs virgin coconut oil or oil of choice
2 Tbs ground flax seeds
1 cup organic coconut milk or milk of choice
As much or as little as you like: fun stuff like raisins and walnuts
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spoon into mini muffin pan (oiled and floured). Bake approx. 15 minutes. Enjoy!