A blank canvas, about 3 feet tall, stretches tight across a wooden frame.
“This is the exciting part,” said Brad Jensen. “This is where it all begins. The possibilities are endless.”
A small, wooden greenhouse, covered on all sides with windows, the glass frames stained with age, serves as Jensen’s studio. Outside, large salvia bushes with stalks of purple flowers sway like paint brushes against blue sky.
On a small tree coral flowers burst like splashes of spilled acrylic paint on a textured green background. Vines wrap around ancient farm equipment at the splayed base of broad post oaks. Flowers open like little yellow hands on a towering mound of prickly pear cactus leading just past the gates of Jensen’s home south of Boyd. Guineas and chickens followed by trails of chicks meander under brush near an old adobe home. His great uncle, Roy Stone, hangs clothes on a line under the hot, yellow sun. The acreage behind transforms from tilled rows of vegetables to pasture to tangled woods.
Despite the pastoral, serene nature of Jensen’s bucolic home, his art holds an edge influenced by the steel chords of classic rock and roll.
“When I’m painting, my wife wonders how I can listen to the same song again and again,” Jensen said. “It’s because there’s something there I haven’t felt yet.”
In 2009, at The Modern (Art Museum) in Fort Worth, Jensen unveiled his “Legends” series. Each painting in the series was a portrait of a rock and roll legend. They ranged from Bono to Elvis to the Beatles to Jim Hendrix to B.B. King to Mick Jagger to John Mayer. Each one created in his own signature style. His strokes blend on canvas like music notes, carving out the unique characteristics of each subject. He’s compelled to paint close-up human portraits.
“There is more emotion,” Jensen said. “For me there is not an emotional connection with a landscape. But I can explore a lot more with faces – with the look in someone’s eye. It has to connect to me emotionally and draw me in.”
At 47, Jensen recently rebooted his life.
“I’ve been an artist my whole life,” Jensen said. “But I got the great support from my family when I was younger telling me I need to get a real job.”
So for most of his adult life he worked in the corporate world, including, most recently, a 10-year stint in human resources at the Coca-Cola Co. Several years ago, in 2007, he got laid off when the company did some corporate restructuring. Jensen was at a crossroads.
“It hurt losing my job, but my wife was telling me this might be the opportunity to do what I love,” he recalled. “I was laying around the house one day afterward, and my sister called. She was involved in a new daycare that was opening up, and they needed a mural done. She told me if I turned in a bid for under $500 I could get the job.”
He put in a bid for $499, won it and has worked as a professional artist ever since. Originally from California, last year he moved with his wife Donna to live with his great uncle in Boyd where he continues to create and sell his art.
“People say you can’t ever make a living on that,” Jensen said. “It’s difficult. It’s hard. You can go four to five months without selling anything.”
He’s sold pieces to Hollywood celebrities. The Verizon Theater in Grand Prairie boasts some of the rock “Legends” portraits in VIP suites, and his portrait of Steve Jobs graces the office of a tech company in Fort Worth. Closer to home, several of his works adorn the wall at The Canteen, a new lunch cafe located in Boyd, including portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Willie Nelson and Joey Ramone.
He does several paintings by commission. He’s finishing up a series on women who starred in the James Bond movies.
“I had a request from a client in Austin who wanted a series of paintings of Bond women,” Jensen said. “But they didn’t want them too seductive.”
The various women from classic James Bond movies are painted on birch. They’ll be placed in a themed game room at a newly built Hill Country home. So far the series includes Jane Seymour as Solitaire, Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder, Grace Jones as May Day, and Eva Green as Vesper Lynd.
Although he seems a perfect fit for the art districts of Dallas and Austin, he’s fit in fine in the rural countryside south of Boyd.
“Why Wise County? Why not?,” Jensen said. “I could be a hermit. It’s quiet and meditative for me here.”
The quiet, solitude of the country let’s him focus on what he does best.
“We’re all gifted,” Jensen said. “We just have to find out what it is. I can’t balance a checkbook.”
But he can channel music’s emotion into stirring works of art.
For those interested in seeing more of Jensen’s artwork go to www.bradjensenart.com or contact him at 817-366-9916 or firstname.lastname@example.org or contact David Call with Alchemy Arts at 214-679-9263 or email@example.com.