I’m Kris G. Brownlee – an artist, painter and cute maker living in Vancouver, BC. With initials like K.G.B., I had to play with it, right? I painted a cute (& cagey) bee girl, turned her into my mascot and “A Cagey Bee” was born!
Agoraphobia runs in my family. We’ve ranged from mildly introverted to full blown hermit (my grandmother refused to leave the farmhouse for a period of several years), so it comes as no surprise that I’m happiest when I’m in my studio, all alone. The imaginary friends who kept me company as a child now spring to life on my canvas.
My paintings of big-eyed girls and soft, furry animals have a sweet quality, the muted palette evoking the feeling of a vintage storybook, but there’s often a touch of sadness there too. Like all of us, they struggle to fit in, to find their place in the world, to grow up. As they stare out from the canvas, there is a sense of longing in their curious expressions, as if they are asking to be remembered.
On Becoming an Artist
I dropped art class so that I could take calculus when I was in high school. Growing up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, it never occurred to me that I could make a living as an artist. It just wasn’t an option. I didn’t live in New York. I didn’t have a studio loft space. I had to “grow up” and take the university entrance classes that would equal a well-paying career. Oh, how wrong I was!
Fortunately, the creative part of my brain put up a fight against the logical side and once I hit university I sneaked in fun, “irresponsible” classes whenever I could: graphic design, drawing, mixed media, photography. I spent years working as a web designer, incorporating my love of art and creative design while still being one step removed from defining myself as an artist.
It wasn’t until the internet really exploded and I saw self-represented artists selling their work on sites like Etsy that I realized I didn’t need gallery representation to make a living as an artist. I moved to Vancouver and took painting classes at Emily Carr University. Riding my bike along the sea wall to Granville Island, it was impossible NOT to feel inspired! I have since completed a certificate in Fine Art Techniques and highly recommend the Emily Carr facility and instructors.
I started my Etsy shop in 2008, did my first craft market a couple of months later and have now been working as a full time artist for 4 years, selling my work all over the world. I have shipped my paintings and prints throughout Canada, USA, Australia, the UK and as far as Estonia.
Through my website I’ve also garnered attention in traditional venues for artists. I have had my work included in several group art shows and one solo exhibition. I’ve participated in art and craft markets such as Harmony Arts Festival and the One of a Kind Show. My work is also carried in a selection of retail shops across the lower mainland BC and Alberta.
The characters who usually roam around the nooks and crannies of my imagination have sprung to life on my canvas and I’m thrilled to see them out in the world, making new homes and finding forever friends. I believe art should be accessible to everyone, so creating a line of affordable reproductions (postcards, lockets, magnets & pins) has been incredibly rewarding. Maybe by hanging one of my prints in a child’s bedroom, my work will inspire someone else to follow their dreams. And skip calculus.
Want to order a commission? Send me pictures of your pug? I’d love to hear from you!
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