Three Graces and the Canons of Beauty

Painted and naked mannequins in my atelier

Three naked graces arrived yesterday. I’d awaited anxiously for their delivery.

 Before I can paint them, I have to sand down the surface because mannequins are coated with some industrial super-paint. Nothing sticks to it. This makes sense if you consider how abused they are during their lives. Shipped around, dressed, undressed, scratched and scraped. The super paint, whatever it is, makes them easy to clean, but a bitch to paint. Nothing sticks to it. Not even spray paint.

Royal pain in the butt, sanding is.

I never realized how ugly mannequins are. This is what we women are supposed to look like. This is today’s canon of beauty. Mannequins. They have monstrously long legs, toddler-sized torsos, male adolescent shoulders, and feet fit for a fairytail princess. Not the feet in the photo, those are mine.


Canons of beauty change through the ages and contemporary beauty canons differ from place to place.

The first time I understood what beauty canon meant, I was in Piazza Signoria admiring Giambologna and Ammanannti’s fountain of Neptune.  Of course I’d never really looked at the nymphs. It was Neptune’s privates I admired. Those and his perfectly sculpted six pack abs. (I stole that line from a contemporary romance novel.)giambologna_e_ammannati_fontana_del_nettuno_dettaglio_03

My ex-husband, who stood next to me, said, “Guarda il collo di quello, è mostruoso.” Look at that one’s neck, it’s monstrous. He was looking at the nymphs. And probably watching me, while I stared at the rock hard privates.

We joked about the nymph coming to life. Rising from the marble basin and walking through the piazza. If she was human she would have been Frankenstein’s latest creation, the young Japanese tourists, who were photographing Neptune’s junk, would have run screaming, sure that Godzilla had returned.

Canons of beauty are not only monstrous mannequins. They touch everything and they evolve. What was beautiful yesterday is monstrous today.

The 137th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show - 2013

Ever been to a dog show? Dogs have character. Man bred and selected them to work. Poodles were hunting dogs. They were shaved in certain places so they could move easily through the brush. Their coats were left long in specific places to keep them warm. In the advent of the dog show, dog breeds were selected for beauty and their looks were distorted.

Now I have some serious sanding to do so I can grace those three monsters.

Dédicace countdown

Brooksby ©2016
Brooksby ©2016
Cartoon -oil wash- for oil painting 80x80cm, Brooksby ©2016

24 hours left until my dédicace. Signing.

Tomorrow at 11 begins my painting-signing and dedication with live painting demonstration at Carré d’Artistes Saint Germain gallery,
66, rue Saint André des Arts –
16&17 April — 11h00 to 20h00

I hope you’ll come.

Here are some numbers.

118 small paintings painted for the gallery since Jan 1st.
28 hours a week is my painting time, though I’ve worked until midnight some days.
17 different colors on my palette.

15 different size brushes is the average I use during a painting session.
11 large format paintings finished since Jan 1st.
5 different brands of paint on my palette.
1 painting I’ll work on for the two days of the signing.

I’ve joined Instagram to publish videos of me painting.

If you haven’t seen this already on my Facebook page, here is an example of one of the short videos I’m making.

View this post on Instagram

Shadows for white

A post shared by Angie Brooksby (@angiebrooksby) on





Preview of paintings

original oil painting by angie brooksby

Here is a preview of some of the paintings already for sale at the gallery. 

Live painting painting demonstration 16 and 17 April.

Carré d’artistes – 66, rue Saint André des Arts, 75006 

Tél. : 01 43 25 61 72
Email :

Upcoming exhibition 16-17 April



oil painting of contemporary Paris by Angie Brooksby
Cours de Commerce Saint Germain – 80x80cm oil on canvas – Brooksby ©2016

Every one of my paintings has some contemporary element. Can you find them?

The date is official. I thought it would be mid-June, but no. After a few telephone calls the exhibition starts this week.  This painting and the last one I posted, Rue Soufflot, will be available along with the small works.

Carré d’Artistes , 66 rue Saint André des Arts, 75006, Paris

The live painting demonstration will be 16-17 April.




The Creative Process


My oil palette


Here is a photo of my oil painting palette. When I open my paint box it’s like I release a genie from its bottle. A crusty resin odour tickles the roof of my mouth. I sense the vapours only once during the long hours of painting, when I open my paint box.

While I’m painting all thoughts fall away. Most days I can’t remember painting until I clean my brushes. Seven hours of painting with short a pause to eat. After fifteen minutes I fall into the process, and deep concentration.

I’ve trained myself to produce. And produce I’ll need to until June because I have sixty-six paintings to paint for an exhibition with Carré d’Artistes. Forty-four are small format and twenty-two are large. I’ll need to paint more than that because I’ve got other galleries to furnish.

It used to be hard to concentrate, my thoughts would fly all over the place and I would stand up, pace around then force myself to sit again, pick up my brushes and work. Sometimes a painting seems off. I know, now, that I have to keep plugging along and lose myself in the process. Turn off my mind. Paint. Or I may put that one aside and work on another.

Some years ago, after holidays and weeks away from my atelier, it would take me months to find my concentration. Over the years, young artists have asked me how do you do it. I know what they mean­­— spend hours alone in your atelier painting. I didn’t know how to respond to that question. Now I do. It’s not a passion, it’s not a desire, it’s a need. Keep me away from my paints and I’ll turn into a witch and burn you with my broom.

If you want to know what colors I use here is a list of the colors from right to left. All pigments are Rembrandt except for one: Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Cadmium Yellow Lemon, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Red, Flesh Tint (Old Holland), Caput Mortuum Violet, Quinacridone, Raw Sienna, Gold Ochre, Greenish Umber, Raw Umber, Ultramarine Deep, Phtalo Green Blue, Ivory Black and Veronese Green.

Panting process of a Parisian cityscape

Painting of Paris by Brooksby
work in progress for a new Parisian painting

This is one of the Parisian cityscapes I’m currently working on.

I use oil paint. After drawing the cartoon, I block in colors using a very liquid mix of pigments that I mix on the palette and my own secret medium.  The medium is ninety percent odorless thinner. After blocking in the colors I cover the canvas with a wash, also very liquid. These three steps take three days. Each layer has to dry before the next can be applied. Continue reading