Artist Inspiration: Brennen Steines

model: Brennen Steines photography: Hedi Slimane

He is the artist

Brennen Steines.

He is a Ford model right up the road from where I live.

He creates alarmingly engaging art.

And he is

my friend.

wood, copper tubing, whiskey barrel rings

This summer, Brennen graciously welcomed

me into his home to view new paintings.

They are inspired by a transcendent experience

of confronting unspeakable suffering,

past demons, imminent death and the divine.

photography: Jesse Jacobs

Seeing the work changed me.

36 x 36 – mixed media

It opened me.

While connecting with these canvases,
my heart and eyes filled to overflowing.
What a comfort rivers of mascara
and vulnerable incoherent sighs do not appear
to embarrass my new friend one bit!

I have waited months to share images of Brennen’s
exceedingly important and powerful self-portraits.
Their resplendence is set apart from lovely work
I have ever catalogued or spotlighted here.

This is sacred art born of a masterful soul,
and what a gift to the world, these depictions
of life and sorrow, of luminous healing and light!

The artist is currently studying art at the
University of Wisconsin and lives with the illness
Common Variable Immune Deficiency
(of which severe neutropenia is a complication).

Knowing details of the painter’s personal life adds
richness to his creations; however, their brilliance
truly requires no context to reinforce them…
(The context, for example, that Brennen was
inspired to paint at a most inopportune time…
while neuropathy claimed the use of his hands.)

Even now I am jittery sharing such important,
transformative beauty on my humble site.
But Brennen says it’s okay.

photography: Dilia Oviedo Luciano

We had lunch together this summer at a fancy

restaurant (ha!) where my son worked as a server,

and it was fun for me to notice some staff

sort of falling all over themselves around

the handsome young model.

They had no clue they were in the presence of a

maker of lovely, so very full of promise,

already saving the world

with his gifts of expression.

Read this interview and Brennen’s blog,

and leave a comment for me to share

with my hometown hero!

Peace to you right where you are.




  1. October 4, 2014 / 1:27 am

    His work is absolutely remarkable. Thank you for sharing his work with the world here.

    • October 4, 2014 / 11:29 pm

      pure pleasure. read your story, kyla and oh my, you are a wonderful storyteller and beautiful soul. felt so honored to read it.

  2. October 4, 2014 / 5:18 pm

    Such stunning pieces! Very powerful and complex. Thanks for introducing us to Brennen Steines, Michele. Good luck to him! Cheers

    • October 4, 2014 / 11:30 pm

      merci, loi. i will pass it on. hoping to visit your shop this year!

  3. October 6, 2014 / 4:29 pm

    My goodness, what a personal story. When I first glanced over the post, I was struck by such a young guy producing such powerful–even dark–art work. Some of these seem tinged with sadness to me and I wondered privately if he had suffered somehow. Maybe with depression or illness. Then I read more closely. Wow thanks for sharing his unique artistry here. He sounds like an exceptional person.
    On a side note, I want to thank you so much for all your amazing comments Michele. For some reason they're not showing up with my emails which is how I respond to my comments. It's so strange, but I keep thinking about you as a result. Wanting to check in and just tell you how much I admire your gift of words. I feel such a connection when I read them. And I SO loved hearing your perspective to my post (owning your life)…and yes, I DO agree. We can relate in so many ways; I sure wish we lived closer.

  4. October 6, 2014 / 5:04 pm

    touching and so personal for you michele. off to learn more about this wonderful young man

  5. October 8, 2014 / 10:08 pm

    His work is so powerful… and he is beautiful. I see why you are humbled to share something so crushingly exquisite… whoa…


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