An Artist’s Eye
Like a person, art has many
layers. You can look at something or someone and think you know what you see,
that is, until you look deeper. Perhaps no one understands this better than
local artist Tammy Brummell. Her work is both an image of immediate beauty and
a lure into the depths of an idea or a past. Often, it is transportation to
another world. For Brummell, who has made a career as a graphic designer and an
artist, the dedication to her work and the challenges she has overcome are
deeply ingrained in her layers.
“I’ve always loved art. My
brother always painted and I really loved that. I went to school to be a
graphic designer so, while doing that, I wanted to create a unique style using
a computer and making art, not just graphics,” Brummell says of blending the
business with the creative when it comes to graphic design.
However she is modest in her
methods and often struggles with an artist’s version of writer’s block. Many of
the challenges she faces relate to motivation. “I go through periods of having
difficulty getting started because I don’t always have a set idea. Sometimes I
just have to start without an idea—then that leads to something creative,”
Brummell says. Delays or not, the end effect is worth the wait. What may ring
most true about Brummell’s work is the emotion of female determination.
Several of her vintage-inspired
pieces feature women who lived in a time of gender inequality. She even focused
a series on film stars from the 1920s and ‘30s.
Those women had resolve and determination, and Brummell, who struggles
with muscular dystrophy, knows a thing or two about that. She admits that it’s
difficult to learn to ask for help sometimes.
“One of the most important
things, and I still struggle with this, is not being afraid to ask people for
help when you need it. You don’t think about it when you don’t do it very often
but it’s pretty difficult to ask for help. You kind of need to get over that
whole aspect of being self-conscious about your whole situation.”
Being an artist has helped to
teach Brummell that confidence. “I feel like it’s made me realize I’m a pretty
determined person, because it’s hard to get out there and sell your art. It’s
just taught me that I can get into that whole world and make something, present
it to people and make a statement,” she says.
The statement she makes is full
of texture. To create her pieces, Brummell finds inspiration in architecture,
old photographs and nature. She works through layering images and even objects
like plants and fabrics, to produce something that speaks to the viewer and
draws in the eye.
Brummell’s work has been
featured at Port Interiors in Edmond and has made an impact on designer Paige
Sheller of an Edmond interior design firm, A-Line Designs. Sheller was in the
store to gain inspiration and Brummell’s work provided just that. “It was
really beautiful to me and helped my brain go off into another world with a
particular project I was working on,” Sheller says, adding that now she and
Brummell are working together on several things.
“When I met with Tammy, she was
very easy to talk to. I loved that she took her skill of graphics and really
added so much depth and layer to what she was producing. I felt really
attracted to that. She looks at the whole picture of something and the whole
concept and creates this whole other world,” Sheller says.
Brummell explains she loves the
research aspect of her work, especially the design work she does for magazine
layouts. “I really do like doing that, because I might not know anything about
the story, so I get to go research and learn more so I can make the art work,”
Through the process of creating
her art, Brummell loves connecting things and telling a story. One such piece
is an image of Frida Kahlo, a Mexican woman who was an artist in the 1920s.
Kahlo overcame a host of obstacles of her own and was famously friends with
well-known communist Leon Trotsky. Brummell illustrates this story by embedding
a letter from Trotsky to Kahlo into the image of Kahlo’s dress.
“She comes up with all of these
concepts and pulls them all together to create something new and fresh,”
Sheller says of Brummell’s blending skills. Brummell says she hopes others
respond to the pieces just as Sheller did.
That won’t be difficult. All
they have to do is look, and suddenly, the layers of the message are deeper
than the eye.
To see more of Tammy’s art,