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Lauren Brumbach - showcasing generosity, appreciation, beauty, humility, creativity

Washington, DC / United States

Lauren Brumbach knew at a very young age that her life would be one of wonder and imagination. She grew up in a sleepy little farm town where time moves a little slower, dinner is always at 5:00 and phrases like "wie geht's" and "mach's gut" aren't foreign. The inherent simplicity and appreciation for life fuel her desire to create.

In 2014, Lauren earned her Bachelor's Degree in Art and Art History with a focus on painting from Lebanon Valley College, PA. During this time, she studied in Perugia, Italy. Her focus was on traditional painting techniques and the impact Art had on history. After Italy, she moved to Philadelphia, PA, where she completed her Master's Degree in Museum Exhibition Planning + Design from the University of the Arts. Throughout her graduate education, Lauren studied with instructors who challenged her ability to look at the world upside down and marvel at its possibilities. This helped evolve her perspective and dramatically transform her art practice. In all the creative endeavors on which Lauren embarks, it remains a central mission to share the positive impact Art has on the human spirit.

The goal of Lauren's artwork is to yield moments for everyone to feel seen, comforted and filled with wonder. Lauren's work has been shown in global magazines as well as solo and group shows across the US. She has exhibited in public and private galleries in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. She currently serves at the lead publication designer for the women's art directory, AllSHEMakes. Lauren's work can be found year-round at CalvART Gallery in Prince Frederick, MD. Lauren lives and works in Maryland as a painter and freelance graphic designer.

Growing up in a sleepy little farm town seems to have had a profound influence on your artistic perspective. Can you share how the inherent simplicity and appreciation for life in that environment fuel your desire to create?

The farm town I grew up in has a rich Pennsylvania German history. This culture is slowly disappearing from common culture. It is almost exclusively kept alive through the Amish and Mennonite people in the area. My grandparents were part of the last generation, who spoke the language fluently and lived a plain life but weren’t a part of the Amish or Mennonite communities. They taught me to appreciate everything, truly enjoy what little we had and share that with others. They would wear their shoes until no amount of duct tape could keep them together. The cooking was creative in that nothing went wasted in the fridge. We would make a pasta and cheese dish out of leftover Thanksgiving turkey and pies out of the good halves of spoiled apples. This environment encouraged me to seek beauty and goodness in the most humble places. As an artist now, I find nothing more inspiring than an overgrown field or a rusted watering can. These are the things that have stories. These are the things that showcase what I believe are some of the best parts of humanity - generosity, appreciation, beauty, humility, creativity - that’s why I paint.

Your academic journey involved studying traditional painting techniques and the impact of art on history. How do you believe this academic background has shaped your artistic approach and the themes you explore in your paintings?

I think this might have been where my obsession and deep appreciation for color began. In Italy, I took a course on how to fresco paint and immersed myself in as many classic paintings and sculptures as possible. Not to mention absorbing the architecture everywhere I went. In San Francisco, I vigorously studied the fundamentals of color theory, including how to create color and how color affects a perceiver. All of these studies and atmospheres have contributed to how I use color and its accompanying textures. Art has become so tangible, and I am fascinated by that characteristic. Color became emotion and energy, and material (paint) became a very physical element of my work.

Your work seeks to create safe places driven by love and grace, balancing representation and abstraction. How do you achieve this delicate balance in your paintings, and what emotions or messages do you hope to convey to your audience?

I seek to achieve balance in each individual painting as well as my collective body of work. In each painting, I’m pulling from technical fundamentals such as contrast, harmony, white space and movement while using color to create an atmosphere that conveys specific emotions. This play between technique and emotion is found in both my representational and abstract work. My work is meant to be viewed up close and from a distance. I want viewers to dance with my pieces and waltz with them. Two steps closer, one step back. Up close, one can see how the colors move, how the textures are built, and the vibrations between them; from a distance, as these nuances muddle together, the larger image comes into focus, and they realize the conversation between goldenrod and rust became part of a field of wheat at sunset.

To keep my larger body of work in balance, I am always working on both a representational piece and an expression at the same time. Discoveries I make while creating one can significantly influence the other.

Finding beauty in overlooked places like the faded paint on a broken barn or the crunch of crumbling leaves in autumn is how I remain in awe at the colors and textures of this earth and all of her possibilities. It’s this sense of wonder and belonging that I hope to convey to my audience.

Your hometown's impact on your representational pieces is intriguing. Can you share a specific painting that captures the essence of your hometown and the emotions you aim to evoke through it?

The first piece that comes to mind is Mehr Als Meilen. This piece depicts a specific spot on a road near the edge of town. I can’t imagine this bit of town has changed much in at least 100 years.

The town was settled in the early 1700s by German immigrants. They took part in the establishment of Pennsylvania German culture. To honor this heritage, I titled this piece in German. “Mehr Als Meilen” means More than Miles. I used to drive down this road every day and think about how at peace it is. It has always felt content with itself. In this painting is also a small red brick church that has been there for about as long as the town. My grandmother used to attend this church and would quilt there in the evenings. She was born on a farm around the corner and has lived the rest of her life down the street from there. This isn’t uncommon in my hometown. People stay, the landscape stays, and the fields are bathed in gold.

One can easily feel so small among miles of field and winding road yet still, looking out at the cows and quiet churches, there’s a fullness that’s overflowing.

There are more than miles between these blades of grass; there are more than miles that make up this memory.

There‘s love, adventure, heart break, growth, faith, life, solitude, peace and more.

The land there is nothing but possibility. It’s untouched and undiscovered and magical. The wonder driving through this town that time forgot is endless.

In a fast-paced era where being present is often a challenge, your art aims to remind us of still moments where "rush" doesn't exist. How do you translate the sense of tranquility and presence into your artwork, and how do you hope it resonates with viewers?

I think the very nature of the subject matter of my representational pieces helps accomplish this goal. The compositions I create focus on the ebb and flow, the easy undulation of the landscape. I choose still scenes to paint. We naturally place ourselves in the place of a human figure, if the presence of a human figure is visible. If there is any presence of a person, it is of them doing a quiet or still task - or doing nothing at all.


In my abstract/expressionist paintings, this stillness and suspension is created through color and slow movement. The color palettes i use are purposefully chosen because of the way they work together to stimulate the viewer. The complimentary movement in a piece is slow and soft. The eye has to take it’s time to travel across a composition. These movements and colors suspend my audience in the time they choose to give to a piece.

Poetry, song, and prayer are described as visual expressions in your paintings. Can you elaborate on how these forms of expression influence your artistic process and the way you infuse emotions into your artwork?

To me, these three forms of human expression are our most vulnerable and our most pure ways to share who we are. Poetry uses words to create an image, and it often presents very simple themes in ways we never thought about before. The imagery and upside-down thinking inspire my visual compositions and how I arrive at titling my pieces. Spending time with poets like Mary Oliver, Emily Dickinson, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow helped me maintain my sense of wonder at everyday things. I can embrace every small spark and find joy there, and I know that rainy days are beautiful, too, and I try to paint that.

Poetry and Song influence me through their inherent rhythm. Songs and poems that speak loudest to my spirit have a steady rhythm and cadence that I reflect through strokes, mark-making, hills and valleys.

And prayer. Prayer is personal. Prayer is a link. It is where, a believer in God or not, we all find ourselves turning when our hearts have reached a capacity. Are we overcome with grief or with gratitude? Prayer is where I find strength and belonging. Every painting is arguably a visual representation of something I asked God for or something I thanked Him for. Wonder, creativity, the rain, or the day I sat with a cow. Prayer keeps me going.

The mission of your work is to yield moments for everyone to feel seen, comforted, and filled with wonder. How do you approach creating paintings that evoke these emotions, and do you have a particular memory or experience that inspired this mission?

These emotions are my wish for others. It's a driving force behind why I create at all. There was a time in my life when I had a really hard time feeling like I mattered and feeling like I was safe. Finding my sense of belonging in art through faith allowed me to truly value myself and my work here. People are beautiful and, given the chance, have absolutely wonderful things to bring to each other's lives. There are so many people out there hurt by something or someone, so many people who feel like they aren't good enough. I think the more I take serving myself through my art out of the equation and focus on what others can feel through color, form and atmosphere, the more successfully I fulfill my mission.

Listening plays a significant role in your painting practice. How do you listen to colors and their interactions, and how do these observations guide your artistic decisions and the storytelling within your artwork?

I listen to colors in a few ways. I listen to them by observing how light interacts with them. Does the light make them appear darker, cooler, warmer, bright or vibrant, and how does this affect the neighboring colors? I’ll choose one or two colors to start with and see where they take me. Is this dominating teal feeling too warm for the pink I chose to accompany her? Maybe the pink wants to lean a little more purple to allow the teal to shine brighter. The stories are told through color form throughout the process. Was it dramatic? Or did we all get along through this experience? Personifying colors keeps me present and keeps me imagining two things I need to create balanced, purposeful and little whimsical pieces.

Your work has been exhibited in various places across the U.S. and featured in global magazines. How do you feel your art resonates with audiences from different cultures and locations, and how does each exhibition setting contribute to the way your art is perceived?

I have found that no matter where I exhibit, color is resonant, and landscapes are nostalgic. My abstract pieces have captured imaginations and have inspired so many wonderful conversations. Sometimes, people can't quite put into words what it makes them feel, but they're still standing there feeling something entirely unique to this experience.

If I'm exhibiting in a rural area, I find my representational work either fills the audience with pride or comforts them through familiar imagery. Many people see a farmhouse and remember their childhood home or grandma's house down the road. In urban settings, I think it gives the audience a quiet place to escape and dream. It gives them rest.

As a painter and freelance graphic designer, how do these two creative roles complement each other, and do you find that your graphic design work influences your painting or vice versa?

I often describe this relationship as the painter in me allows color to explode and emotions to run high and the designer in mea gently reels her back in. Its a balance between knowing when to stay within the lines and when to erase them.

Being a graphic designer has influenced my painting through a more administrative role. Establishing deadlines, creating marketing materials, and understanding brand and image.

My painting has influenced my graphic design work in that I approach design projects differently. I like to think in color, emotion, projected feelings and storytelling first. What do you want your brand to say? How do you want it to make your audience feel? Then we can talk about fonts and photos. Creating something that means something to someone else. That’s what matters. The best way I know how to do that is through color, texture, emotion and a little wonder.


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