Faery fans worldwide recognize the name Amy Brown. For the last decade, Amy’s beautiful watercolor faeries have launched themselves into the public eye at every turn. Her whimsical designs show up as paintings, coffee mugs, journals, coloring books, ornaments, t-shirts, and–thanks to Peter Stone–beautiful sterling silver jewelry.
As one of the largest lines of artist-inspired jewelry that Peter stone produces, Amy Brown was a natural choice for the first installment of our artist interview series.
Once upon a time
Amy says that her interest in art began at a very early age. As a small child she and her brother used to sit at a big wooden table and draw for hours. She continued to self-teach, moving from pencils to watercolor, and immersing herself in art at the age of twenty by working in a gallery, where she learned about various art techniques, color, and design elements. Her use of color evolved over time, until she developed the vivid coloring technique that she currently uses for her faeries.
Amy cites Brian Froud and Michael Parkes as her greatest inspiration, and admits to having an interest in faeries from a very young age. The Faery–known through history as fay, fey, fairy, faerie, or collectively as fae, wee folk, or fair folk–have been cavorting through the woodlands and making minor mischief for centuries. Who can blame her for being fascinated?
If she weren’t painting faeries, Amy suspects she would still be a contributor to the fantasy arena, admitting, “I don’t have much interest in painting real things, so it would be something based in the imaginary.”
She claims that she would probably be painting Alphonse Mucha-style women, but with a modern twist. I have to comment that her work seems to mirror the famous Czech’s style already (which explains why that would be a natural path for her).
Building an Empire
Amy’s art career took off in 1992, when she sold her first painting at a gallery called Festival of Art, where she worked and (informally) studied art. Her business grew on a local level until she launched her website in 1997. With the ability to reach a larger audience, her following gained strength, until she was struggling to balance the practical aspects of running a business with the creative energy needed to produce the faeries that were so central to her sudden recognition.
A decade later, Amy Brown is a franchise. Her business is thriving: She’s hired assistants to handle the details, and she’s outgrowing her studio. She paints as often as she can, and her inspiration seems endless. Though faeries are the lifeblood of her success, her work has expanded to include other themes from the fantasy and gothic genre. Through partnerships with countless companies, Amy has been reaching ever new audiences and spreading her spirited sprites to all corners of the globe. Peter Stone is thrilled to be a part of the collaboration.
The Inner Workings
One of the things that makes Amy’s faeries so enchanting is the mood that seems to capture the viewer from the first glance. Each personality is so finely depicted that the emotion comes through completely undiluted. When asked about the mood of her paintings, and which she likes best, Amy can’t choose just one.
“I really enjoy working on the silly pieces-the sillier the better. Sometimes I just sit and giggle while I paint. If I’m feeling serious or moody I love dark gothic pieces. When I am irritated about something I tend to paint punky faeries with attitude. I am very fond of designing elaborate outfits for the various faery characters.”
Speaking of personality, I asked Amy about the creation of each character, and her answer can only be described as delightful:
“I rarely have a clear idea of what I am working on when I start. While I am painting, I can see them walking around in my head, talking, gesturing, etc. It’s like seeing a snippet of a movie. So, yes, they do seem to have their own lives.”
Tools and Tricks
Amy uses pencil and ink to accent her paintings and add texture, but works primarily with watercolors, describing them as “her love.” In a past interview, she confessed that at the beginning of her painting career she was “stingy with color,” but one look at her work proves that she has more than overcome that challenge.
Although many painters start by doing elaborate sketches and re-drawing the main elements many times over, Amy prefers to do only a rough sketch before transferring the image to watercolor paper for the painting phase. In a web bio that she wrote in 2005, Amy says that she believes the lines lose their spontaneity and power through repetition, and that a preliminary drawing has a “spark” that carries through to the finished piece.
With so much creativity and passion bursting from her paintings, it hardly seems possible that there could be any left over, but Amy is far from one-dimensional. Being a world-famous fantasy artist only complements her other roles: that of wife, mother, gardener, avid reader, collector of hand-sculpted art dolls, and most recently–writer?
You read that right: Amy shares with us that she’s “really having fun” with some writing projects that she started last summer, and she’s wondering where that will take her.
Amy and Peter Stone
Peter Stone and Amy Brown joined forces in 2002 to produce some of the most breathtaking faery-themed jewelry currently being offered. Amy’s designs have been meticulously handcrafted into striking sterling silver pieces of every kind: pendants, earrings, pins, rings, even clip charms. Offering over 25 designs, worked into 75 different pieces, the Amy Brown line is one of the largest artist-inspired collections that Peter Stone has created.
Jewelry can be an intensely personal method of self-expression, so it’s no wonder that Amy is passionate about her jewelry, as well. When asked about her own jewelry preferences, she answers:
“I prefer pieces that are simple, but elegant, and have character. I’d like to think it reflects my own character, but maybe it’s more accurate to say it reflects who I would like to be.”
She loves silver, and describes her collaborative pieces with Peter Stone as “elegant and lovely.” Amy says her favorite piece is the Blue Faery pendant with the gemstone drop hanging from it, and says that she gets a kick out of sorting through samples of her pieces.
Amy’s enthusiasm for creating jewelry stems partially from her wish to share her joy with as wide an audience as possible. She believes that having her work translated into silver “allows collectors to get closer to the art and develop a stronger connection with it.” The other benefit, of course, is to reach people who are not already familiar with her work, and bring them into the world of inspiration and passion that her faeries inhabit.
There’s no stopping the momentum of the Amy Brown empire. She is currently working with a figurine company and plans to be releasing four new designs as figurines soon. She’s been developing a line of “gorgeous tops” with Crystal Tara, as well. And of course, we’ll see where her writing takes her in the future.
With all these projects in the works, one has to wonder how she finds time for her art, but she seems undaunted: she confided that she’s been painting a “ridiculous” amount this last year, but she’s not sure what she’s going to do with it yet, so she’s being a bit secretive about her newest work. Fans interested in a sneak peek of her current projects can catch a glimpse at www.amybrowncollection.com, which is also where you can find her online journal.