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Get to Know Our Featured Artist

Chica Brunsvold, AWS, NWS, NWWS, VWS

Eastern Web by Chica Brunsvold
EASTERN WEB - 29 X 21 - acrylic

I was born on Michelangelo's birthday (March 6) so I feel I was destined to a life of creating art!


I grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, (Go Blue!) with loving, supportive parents and an older brother who could have made my life miserable but didn't. My parents encouraged my artistic efforts, urging me to copy images of what interested me. I got to be pretty good at that so they hired an artist to give me art lessons when I was in high school.  I also took the "Famous Artists" correspondence course and enrolled in a night-school life painting class at the University of Michigan while in high school. But when it came time for college, my father, a Professor of Germanic Languages at the U of Mich. nixed the Art School idea and told me I must enter the College of Literature, Sciences and Arts to get a decent education. I did, but took all my electives in the Art School.  My father died when I was a sophomore so I transferred to the Art School for my junior and senior years, graduating on time because of my accumulated elective credits.


I realized I could not possibly support myself on my painting so stayed an additional year at the University getting an MA in Art and a secondary teaching certificate. I soon realized full days of teaching were not for me. By the end of each day, I was too exhausted to create anything of my own, so I visited the University’s employment bureau. I was offered a position at Hallmark Cards but instead accepted an offer to work at the Central Intelligence Agency as an Illustrator General. I enjoyed the work for five years until our unit of artists was merged with a larger unit of cartographers and a cartographer was put in charge. That was time for me to retire!  At that point, I thought I would just paint but instead took a position at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. I was there about a year when I became pregnant and my husband, a hard working lawyer and associate in a new patent law firm in DC, agreed that it was then time for me to truly retire.

Chica Brsunvold at AWS Exhibit
Chica Brunsvold with WAITING II at the American Watercolor Society exhibition in NYC. Chica is a signature member of AWS.

I so enjoyed motherhood!  It gave me an excuse to do lots of fun things with our daughter, plus time to take up watercolor.  Watercolor is truly my medium of choice, although I do enjoy acrylics too. When our daughter left for college, I immersed myself in my painting and have loved taking workshops, painting, entering shows and volunteering in art activities.  For the last 20 years, I have been painting simply what comes to mind rather than what exists in the real world.This has been the most challenging, rewarding and fun painting I've ever done.


AFlutter by Chica Brunsvold
AFLUTTER - 21 x 29 - watercolor on Yupo

Chica’s area of expertise is her Imaginative and whimsical paintings of birds and animals which she calls Zooillogicals®. She paints almost exclusively on Yupo, a slick, plastic surface that lets watercolor run wild instead of sinking into the paper.  The paint stays bright and is readily textured by using stencils, stamps, scrapping, wiping, spraying etc. Chica starts with an open mind, creating all sorts of textures and patterns, but always with an eye for composition. Then she lets the painting dry and sees what she can “see,” - turning the image all around, viewing it in a mirror and in varying degrees of light. Surprising images begin to appear. Chica then sets about defining them so they are visible to others. She puts the paint on, takes it off, and re-applies it sometimes endlessly. This process of tweaking can go on for days and days as she see more and more images develop. This way of working is always a challenge for her, but one she finds to be so much fun.

CHARMED, I'M SURE - 36 x 21 - watercolor on Yupo
Charmed, I'm Sure by Chica Brunsvold
Coon Caper by Chica Brunsvold

“This way of working is always a challenge and so much fun, I'm almost sorry when the painting is done."

Chica Brunsvold

COON CAPER - 24 x 18 - watercolor


Chica at work on a painting.

My studio is basically a mess! Paintings are stacked all around…but I have to admit, I seem to thrive in the chaos. I do not need north light as I am not trying to duplicate the particular shapes and colors of nature. While I admire beautiful paintings of nature, my inspiration comes not from the real world, but from what I can see within my own paintings.

LEFT: Chica at work on a painting.

I paint flat on a pool table covered with plywood. My palette is a mess too. I used to clean it but realized I was basically washing money down the drain. I do put out fresh paint once in a while, but mainly use what's on the palette - palette dirt! Palette dirt can result in some lovely colors!  Probably the best thing about my studio is the view outside - Lake Barcroft, a fabulous small lake in Fairfax, Virginia. Although it’s beautiful, it doesn't make me want to paint it. Others can do that. I want to paint what nobody has yet seen. That way, for better or worse, it is completely original~ uniquely and totally mine.

Unstill Life by Chica Brunsvold
UNSTILL LIFE - 36 x 36 - watercolor on Yupo

“While I admire beautiful paintings of nature, my inspiration comes not from the real world, but from what I can see within my own paintings."

Chica Brunsvold

Who by Chica Brunsvold
WHO - 20 x 15 - watercolor on Yupo
Developing Her Style

I was a realist when I entered art school, but it was the early 60's when Abstract Expressionism was all the rage. So, I got with the program and splashed on the paint. I didn't like it, but did it because it was required. When I finished art school I was still a realist at heart and that was also what was taught in the various watercolor workshops I took. Then at the end of 1989, I took an acrylic workshop which brought the splashing back into play. This time it was fun! After years of careful planning with watercolors, I felt as though I was given free rein. I loved the bright colors of acrylics and painted with them for about 10 years.

Refugees by Chica Brunsvold
REFUGEES - 20 x 14
Early oil painting by Chica (1961)
Totem Pole by Chica Brunsvold

In the early 90’s I applied for a local one person show but was rejected because I didn't have a center of interest in my paintings. That annoyed me so much that I furiously repainted the works, noticing that animals and birds were emerging from my wild activity. I became enchanted with them and proceeded to repaint nearly all my existing acrylics, even taking them out of the frames. What a freeing experience that was! When I ran out of existing paintings to redo, I was a bit uneasy- concerned that since I don't see visions, I might not be able to create any fanciful images on blank paper/canvas. But as soon as I began splashing the paint, I was able to perceive fascinating shapes. If I couldn't, I would place the painting at the foot of my bed at night and check it in the early morning light when things could be wild. That was a breakthrough experience. When I saw shapes, I would outline them in chalk so they would be visible in the light and then enthusiastically paint the revealed images. I sometimes still look at my work in the half light, when only the strongest values are revealed and different shapes become apparent.


In 1995, I was accepted by that same local gallery for a one person show of my Zooillogicals®. About 10 years ago, I was introduced to Yupo, a maddeningly slick plastic surface. I actually went back to watercolors which Yupo makes so easy to remove and repaint. Magically, watercolors stayed bright and exciting and it made sense to me to splash them around as well.

LEFT: TOTEM POLE - 22 x 6 - watercolor

I continue to enjoy painting but have mostly retired from national shows which require a fair amount of time and effort to enter. Old Town Editions has made top quality giclee prints of many of my paintings, some of which are on my website. If you email me, I will be happy to add you to my mailing list which I use only to announce upcoming shows.

Daisy Chain by Chica Brunsvold
Out on a Limb by Chica Brunsvold
OUT ON A LIMB - 13 x 18 - watercolor on Yupo
DAISY CHAIN - 18 x 24 - watercolor on Yupo

“I want to paint what nobody has yet seen."

Chica Brunsvold

Undercover II by Chica Brunsvold
UNDERCOVER II - 18 x 24 - watercolor on Yupo


Let's Face It by Chica Brunsvold
LET'S FACE IT - 9 x 12 - acrylic on paper

Chica Brunsvold

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*All painting images Copyright 2016 Chica Brunsvold


See our previous UP-CLOSE featured artists.

August 2016 - Jill Banks

September 2016 - Linda Hendrickson

October 2016 - Laurie Fields

January 2017 - Robert Thoren

February 2017 - Susan La Mont

March 2017 - Web Bryant

November 2016 - Mary Champion

December 2016 - Chica Brunsvold

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