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“I used to be cautious about my strokes, staying within a controlled space in order to demonstrate to the art world that I could render accurately. Gradually I began to give myself permission to break through the edges of my work. Much like the 19th century Impressionists, the intense color vibration achieved by not smoothly blending strokes gives a new dimension to my work and conveys the energy I wish to express.”

Denali Brooke is an artist who has established herself as both a figure painter and an art instructor in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  In 1986, while pursuing a BFA from the University of Arizona, a near-fatal automobile accident left her with injuries that eventually would stop her from working as an artist. Now, more than 30 years later, and after 9 years of painting and drawing with pastel, she realizes art has been transmuting that loss and trauma into a new energy and mobility she was forced to give up early in life. She works quickly and in short bursts of time in order to conserve energy and keep her pain at bay. 

Her current technique, called broken color, is so intuitive for Denali that fellow artists defined her work as such before she did. Broken color, used by Impressionist painters, is a technique used to capture the actual sensation of light. The use of varying brushstrokes creates a freshness and aliveness that may be lost in the disappearing or blending of a stroke. Broken color fits in with her love of gestural mark-making.  “There seems to be no other way for me to paint – gesturally, moving my body to make marks that express energy, even if I am in tremendous pain. Sometimes painting helps me feel pain-free.”

Denali’s art instruction is driven by the philosophy that everyone possesses a capacity to overcome any challenge.  Along with regular skill-building practice, artists draw from their wisdom and experience to create.  Experimentation is key to breaking free of old habits and is a big component of Denali’s teaching.  The “failure” that may result from trying something new gives the artist more information about how to proceed when challenges arise.   

Through effective communication and the non-judgmental nurturing space she creates, Denali helps her students move past their comfort zone to discover methods that are more congruent with their creative ambitions. Because each person already possesses an inherent capacity to problem-solve, she guides artists to “direct” their own experiences.  As a result, students drive the course of their creative journey, building confidence and courage in their progress. 

Her philosophy extends to her work in the community as well. She regularly contributes to the Drawing Society of New Mexico where artists come together to share their experience and knowledge in a non-judgmental, non-competitive environment.  She also donates drawing demonstrations and lessons to groups in various settings, ranging in ages from grade school to senior citizen.  Denali inspires the physically challenged, recently speaking at a financial summit in Albuquerque to professionals who advocate for disabled small business owners. 

Biography

Denali Brooke has lived most of her life in the southwest.  After graduating from the University of Arizona with a BFA in 1987, she continued her education earning a MSW at Arizona State University in 1997.  While working in the field of substance abuse recovery, she counseled families and individuals for four years and then entered research, computing treatment outcomes and presenting research results at conferences in both the U.S. and Canada.  By 2005, she discovered pastels and five years later established Denali Brooke Art. She is most noted for her gestural figure drawings, portraits, and plein-air landscape paintings in pastel and oil.  In 2010, she established herself as an artist in Albuquerque and became a faculty member of the New Mexico Art League by 2013. She taught her first international plein-air workshop in Andalusia, Spain in 2014.  In addition to teaching figure painting and pastel classes, she began teaching privately in 2016.  She combines her love for working with people and art into her teaching.  Denali is a member of the Pastel Society of America, Drawing Society of New Mexico, and Rio Grande Art Association. 

Exhibitions

2018 MasterWorks of New Mexico

2017 International Association of Pastel Societies Show

2015 International Association of Pastel Societies Show

2016 – 2010  MasterWorks of New Mexico

2015 – 2012 National Pastel Painting Exhibition

2014 Faculty Show – New Mexico Art League

2014 “Oases” – New Mexico Cancer Center (invitational)

2014  Spirit of the Horse – New Mexico Art League (invitational)

2014 Faculty Show – New Mexico Art League

2013 New Mexico Art League Student Show

2012 Portrait Society of America, Facing the Muse 

Awards/Recognition

2017 Pastel Innovations by Dawn Emerson – Book Dedication for Editing Assistance

2018 Masterworks of New Mexico – Sponsorship Award, “While You’re Away” 20 x 16″

While You're Away WEB

2015 National Pastel Painting Exhibition – Sponsorship Award, “Boulder Bottoms” 41 x 13″

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2015 New Mexico Small Works – People’s Choice Award, “Deep Blue Hills” 6 x 8″

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2013 National Pastel Paintings Exhibition – Sponsorship Award, “Dancer’s Dreams”

Dancer's Dreams

2013 New Mexico Art League Student Show

3rd place, “Tangelos & Copper with Lemon”

2012 Masterworks of New Mexico

First Place, “Humboldt Oak,” Miniatures in color pencil

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2010 Masterworks of New Mexico – Award of Excellence, “Her Essence”

Education

1987 Bachelor of Fine Arts – University of Arizona

1997 Master of Social Work – Arizona State University

Studied with

Dawn Emerson

Vasili Katakis

Casey Klahn

Deborah Christensen Secor

Bruce McGrew

Albert Handell