Wonder South

Surplus & Sight

Dispatch 33: Water Works

Paintings by Brynn Casey | Interview by Jeffrey Roedel


It takes an ocean not to break...

So echoed Matt Berninger’s throaty baritone in The National’s “Terrible Love.” The power and mystery of the great deep have long captivated Man in word and song, from tribulation to transcendence, and many adventures across the sea. But for Georgia artist Brynn Casey, the cresting waves and cool hues of the ocean and sundry southern beaches speak to a different power, a peaceful power, through her acrylic paintings and prints focused exclusively on waterscapes.

“I have thousands of photos I’ve taken of different water landscapes, and I love being able to work from them for inspiration,” Casey says. “It helps to use photos for reference of landscapes that I have experienced personally, since I can look at them and remember the true nature of the landscape.”

Casey spoke to Wonder South about her inspirations, her process and her life just outside of Atlanta, Georgia.


Where are you from originally and how did you settle in Georgia?


Originally, I was born in Upstate New York. Our family moved down to Georgia when I was very young, though, so I always joke that I am a southerner raised by northerners. I actually am living and working right down the street from where I grew up, so I haven't actually travelled away it too far.

Where did you attend school and did you study art in school?


I went to the University of Georgia and studied drawing and painting at their lovely art school, The Lamar Dodd School of Art. 


Tell us about life in Georgia. Where do you hang out and adventure around your town?


We live in Alpharetta, and I work in Roswell. As much as the city life excites me, I love the slowness of living outside the city and being able to get home with minimal traffic. We love coffee, and whenever I get the chance I find myself at Crazy Love Coffee House in Roswell, right down the street from my studio. We also love eating at Pure Taqueria, South Main Kitchen, El Felix, and going for walks with our dog on the greenway! 



When did you first begin focusing almost exclusively on ocean scenes in your work?


I actually began focusing on the ocean landscape when I was still in school. A professor of mine encouraged me to experiment with more media that lent itself to expressive artwork. The work I explained to him that I was so, so drawn to, but just couldn't seem to make my hands create. And so I began making ink drawings of the ocean. 

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Tell us about your process.


Now I work mainly with acrylic paint unless I am experimenting with drawings and playing with new mediums. I paint off of photographs I’ve taken, and I don't begin with a sketch or anything. I’ve learned that it is best for me to just begin. I block in shapes of color and value using watered down paint and build it up slowly from there! 

"I don't begin with a sketch or anything. I’ve learned that it is best for me to just begin." ~ Brynn Casey


When do you feel most creative? And how does that feel for you when you're in the groove?


I feel most creative when I am in the middle of a body of work, knowing where I am headed with it. I’m a pretty Type A personality, so I find comfort in having a plan and a solid direction with my work. When all of this is in motion, I feel confident and at ease in the studio and that lends itself to artwork that is free and full of life. 


What is your goal for 2018 and how are you going about the business and entrepreneurship side of creativity?


Good question! My goal, honestly, is to just keep the main thing at the forefront of my business. I struggle to stay in my own lane sometimes, so I am hoping this year I will be able to keep my head down, stay on my own path, and celebrate those who are on their own paths. 



What inspires you the most as an artist?


Color and space really inspire me. When I see a landscape or a photo of a landscape that is composed differently than I've ever seen, or colors that I would have never expected to be there, I feel really excited and want to run into the studio to pull all of those ideas into my work. 


How do you make time to travel and adventure to create your work?


It's really hard, because I try to keep a pretty rigid studio practice, but I schedule about three trips a year. They're not very long trips, sometimes a week, sometimes only a weekend. All I need is a taste of that salty air, and I feel at peace and filled again.



Who are some other artists—particularly Southern artists—who motivate you to always progress?


Definitely my studio mate Brittany Bass Turner, my friend Emily Jeffords, and Teil Duncan, Blakely Little, and Lulie Wallace

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To view more of Brynn's new collection and order prints and originals, visit brynncasey.com.