I own several of Greg Bracken’s paintings which include landscapes, dogs and cats. There’s a personality to each piece that I simply can’t resist wanting to display them in my house. I know several other collectors who feel the same way.
Greg Bracken grew up in Walworth which is near Lake Geneva, WI. He then lived in several cities throughout the United States and eventually settled in Neenah WI. Before Neenah, Bracken worked in bookstores and had a home-base business selling t-shirts promoting animal welfare. I find it interesting that he designed the idea and slogan for the shirts but not the artwork. Bracken hired other artists to draw the image because he didn’t think he could do a good job at it.
Mainly self-taught, Bracken loves to draw anything and everything but it wasn’t until he moved to Boulder, CO that he began to paint. He started painting with watercolors and then pastels. Bracken adds, “I tried acrylic one time and almost lost my mind. I like using pastels because it’s similar to drawing and I have more control over it.” While in Boulder, he entered a landscape painting in a national show and was juried into it. This encouraged him to continue painting.
Bracken began to seriously pursue art when he moved to the Fox Cities in 2003. He brought his paintings to local galleries and his work attracted attention. In fact, a gallery owner immediately bought one of his paintings when he first contacted her. Bracken developed working relationships with several galleries in the valley and realized he could make a living from the sale of his artwork.
Like many artists, Bracken’s studio is in his home. A prolific artist, he has paintings both hanging and stacked up against the wall. There are large windows and high ceilings in the room where he paints which is ideal since he prefers to work under natural light. On the easel is a large painting of a brown dog happily looking out at the viewer.
Bracken has a particular talent for capturing the spirit and likeness of animals. “More than any other subject matter, my first choice in painting is always an animal. All animals. I love the challenge of both getting a likeness and making the viewer stop, look into their eyes, and feel a connection,” he explains.
Bracken paints a variety of animals, both domestic and wild. Among collectors, birds are the most popular subject followed by Wisconsin farm animals such as cows, pigs and chickens. The paintings are in a variety of sizes from a tiny 4”x4” to a much larger 36”x36”.
Bracken also accepts commissions to paint animals. It takes about four times longer to paint them to accurately capture the animal’s likeness or spirit but it’s worth the wait. A collector comments, “Greg’s done numerous paintings of beloved pets in our extended family and never fails to capture an animal’s individual charm and character. He makes gift-giving a real joy. It’s a no-brainer. Every gift’s an original, an instant treasure.” There are many Bracken commissions hanging in homes throughout the Fox Valley and the United States.
In addition to animals, Bracken’s landscapes are also popular. His landscapes have a clean, minimalist appearance because the extraneous details are removed leaving value, color and shape. Multiple layers of color are carefully built up on the surface so the colors seem to vibrate or glow. This is particularly evident in his cloud paintings. Local street scenes from Appleton, Menasha, and Neenah are also part of his landscape subjects.
Passionate about animals and supporting the local shelters, Bracken often donates his dog and cat paintings for shelter fund raising events.
Bracken will be one of the featured artists at Coventry Glassworks & Gallery for the August Appleton Art Walk. He will have a selection of dog and cat paintings that can be purchased through a raffle. The proceeds will be used to support a group that is working to end the dog and cat meat trade in Asia.
Bracken’s artwork can be viewed at his website www.gregbracken.com. His work is at the Hang Up Gallery of Fine Art, Neenah, Coventry Glass & Gallery, Appleton, and Edgewood Orchard Gallery, Fish Creek WI.