Thursday, August 18, 2022

DPW Spotlight Interview: Brad Bisbey

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings. To enter to win Brad's painting "Sunset" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Brad's DPW Gallery Page: 

When I was young, I suffered from several health problems. I couldn't do sports, so I began to draw and paint, and I didn’t stop. I went on to receive a B.A. degree in Art from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. Later I studied with renowned portrait painter Daniel Greene in Chicago. I also teach portrait, figure, and landscape painting at Ber├ęskin Gallery in Bettendorf, Iowa. My work is in many private collections around the United States , Canada, and Europe. 

For me, everyone and everything is a potential subject. I try to stay awake to all the possibilities. All art is a search. I realize that what I am painting must first have an emotional impact on me, and then, hopefully, it will touch others as well. My painting is a search for this balance between intellectual and emotional responses to the world around me. I hope to remain endlessly curious.

I live and work in Moline, Illinois, located along the banks of the Mississippi River.

 What did you want to be growing up? 

For as long as I can remember, I was interested in art. I had asthma and couldn’t do sports, so I occupied my time drawing. My mother had a series of art books that caught my interest. From age 9, I really knew I wanted to be an artist, but where that would take me I did not know!
When did your artistic journey begin? 

All I really wanted out of high school was out of high school! College was a different ball game and it took a while to find a sense of direction. It was the 1970s after all. Many miles on the brush were required to find my authentic thoughts that eventually found their way into my work. I think my real journey began after studying with Daniel Greene in Chicago in 1992. His teaching resonated with me and really awakened a creative side that I can’t explain. But I am not sure the artistic journey actually has a beginning or an end. It is an ongoing search that encompasses all our experiences.
It is a search that renews itself every day!
(click to view)

Did you have any long periods without creative expression? How did you get back on the horse?

I did go through a long creative block where I didn’t produce much work and I really thought I was washed up as an artist and it looked as if I would never draw or paint again. Nothing anywhere inspired me to paint! So I didn’t. I just read books on what to do when you can’t paint! That didn’t help. How did I begin painting again? I began painting. And I painted bad paintings. The old saying is, How do you paint good paintings? Answer. Paint lots of bad paintings. So I did. 
Eventually, I was fortunate enough to be accepted into the once Daily And I painted. Now I know I won’t live long enough to paint all the paintings that I want to paint!

Which mediums and genres do you gravitate toward? Which ones don’t appeal?

I worked in oil for many years, and then developed a severe allergy to the solvents. That almost put me out of business. I had to find another medium. I worked in watercolor quite a bit, but I like a paint with more body. Acrylics have come a long way since my college days, and now I wouldn’t go back to oil paint even if I could. I love pen and ink and watercolor as well!
I love all subject matter and approach portrait, figure, landscape and still life on an equal playing field. For me, painting isn’t about painting; painting is all about seeing.

Ballet Dancers
(click to view)

What was the process like of pinpointing your personal style or finding your voice? 

I was really hung up on my personal style and my personal voice when I was younger. Now when I teach painting I tell my students not to worry about it because it is already built in. It came with them when they were born! It’s like their handwriting. They don’t have to go searching for their handwriting! I can have 12 students all paint the same subject and they end up with 12 completely different paintings. Just paint. And learn the nuts and bolts of good painting. Your voice is in there!

Name an artist (or artists), well-known or not, who you admire. Why? 

My personal list is long! I love Norman Rockwell and have always admired his painting skill and the themes of his work. He was the first artist whose work I couldn’t get enough of. As mentioned earlier, I love Daniel Greene, who was a world class pastel artist and portrait painter and was an incredibly generous teacher. His technique has stuck with me for over 30 years. 
The French Impressionists are favorites for their paintings and for their biographies. 
I am kind of a sponge when it comes to looking at art. If I see a work or even part of a work that I like, I will soak it in.

The Bride

If you could offer one piece of advice to your younger, creative self — what would that be? 

Love more! Don’t be so hard on yourself!
Do you utilize any habits or tricks for winning the distraction and procrastination battle? 

Have won a few battles! Haven’t won the war!

New Orleans Model
(click to view)

In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you push forward?

I really had some no nonsense teachers. They were hard core about getting things right the first time! That was a lot of pressure for a poor art student and it carried into real life. I overcame this by understanding that maybe I didn’t have to get it right the first time! What if I didn’t get it right the first time? The world actually didn’t come to a screeching halt! I began to lighten up a little bit, and I didn’t look back. Now when I have self doubt, I lighten up a bit! I understand, as Ansel Adams said, ‘The perfect is the enemy of the good!’

What are some of your long and short term goals for yourself or your art?

I think my goal at this time in my life is examine the parts of my work that appeal to me the most, probably in terms of brushwork and mark making, and incorporate these into future paintings. I have always believed that one grows as an artist by paying close attention to those areas on the canvas that appeal most to the artist, whether they were applied on purpose or by accident, and also by avoiding those marks which appeal least to the artist. It all comes down to being more and more proficient with the brush.

(click to view)

What does success mean to you personally? 

Success to me used to mean being able to paint every day! But now, success to me means being kind, and being more than generous with the grace of God!
What is one of your proudest moments in your creative life?

Creatively speaking, I am most happy with being a Signature Member of the Painters in Casein and Acrylic Society and having work hang in the Salmagundi Club in New York City. 
 And teaching 4 year olds how to paint and having them grab the brush from my hand and say, ‘Let me show you how to do that!’ That has happened several times!

(click to view)
Thanks, Brad!

© 2022 Maddie Marine


  1. What a beautiful and wise interview! Lots of beautiful paintings and good advice. Thank you, Brad & DPW.

  2. I absolutely love all your work! Great interview!

  3. I enjoyed reading about you Brad. You are a fantastic teacher and inspirational person,!


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