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international drawing annual 9 exhibition-in-print
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Derek Brennan
Bowling Green, Ohio

detail image


My work is a reflection of my surroundings, whether it is the location I am in or the people that I surround myself with. Inside my work are relationships and remnants of personal memories. The subjects I paint and draw are chosen because they are people that I know. Northeast Ohio is a region surrounded by farming communities and the working class and has been an important source of inspiration for my work. Growing up in this rural area of Ohio has attracted me to the surface qualities of things that are worn down and used. With a father and mother who work rigorous hours at blue collar jobs, I know what hard work looks like and it has given me respect for those who work with their hands, encouraging me to work with mine. My family is filled with craftsmen and though my work isn't utilitarian, I am making work about things that have been used and about people who work hard. The people that I surround myself with and the region I am inspired by gives my work purpose, gives respect to the working class, and gives homage to objects that had a mundane yet purposeful life.

My work is largely associated with the figure as it depicts people I know and identify with. In my figurative work, caricature has played a key role in my development. It has allowed me to take chances with portraiture and has taught me that likeness can make my work honest and give it purpose. Being able to emphasize the honest moments that are unique to an individual creates a more personal connection in my work. Drawing from life with a model for an extended period of time allows me to understand the individual and pick up on things that reflect their personality and mannerisms. When drawing a portrait from only a photo, I am unable to capture these moments resulting in an inaccurate likeness.

For me, the exaggeration in this piece better captures the likeness of the subject, my friend Aaron. The choice to elongate and distort his head seemed appropriate because of his tall, thin stature. I see much of myself in Aaron, not in his features, but in his work ethic and his confidence. About to graduate college, he is driven and excited about what's next and the opportunities he will have. His young pup stands beside him as a symbol of his inexperience and eagerness to learn. He and his dog become synonymous taking on characteristics of one another. By drawing those closest to me, I am also creating self portraits because each subject has made an impact on my life. Aaron is a well disciplined artist and friend who I respect. He is a passionate and hard working person, and I hope to reflect those characteristics in this piece and in my own personal life.


born: 1990, Sandusky, Ohio


Bowling Green State University, BFA, 2013

selected awards/honors

Ringholz Art Supply Award, Bowling Green State University, Ohio, 2013
1st place in Painting, 62nd Annual Undergraduate Exhibition, Bowling Green State University, Ohio, 2013
4th place Caricature of the Year, International Caricature Convention, San Antonio, Texas, 2012
1st place in Drawing, 61st Annual Undergraduate Exhibition, Bowling Green State University, Ohio, 2012

selected publications

Manifest Volume seventy-two, 9th annual Rites of Passage, Cincinnati,OH: Manifest Press p. 6, 2013
Exaggerated Features, The Caricaturist's Quarterly. Winter 2013, ISCA, p.10-13, 2013

selected group shows

Bachelors of Fine Art Exhbition, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, 2014
9th Annual Rites of Passage Exhibition, Manifest Gallery, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2013
62nd Undergraduate Exhibition, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, 2013
94th Toledo Area Artist Exhibition, Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio, 2013

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