If an architect decided to create small artworks, they might well have elements of a collection of buildings, at least from a distance. But up close, one would see the abstract nature of the “buildings” and structures. Brian Petrone is an architect, painter, and sculptor, and as a resident of Evanston, carries on a long, impactful history of local creative architects. 

Brian Petrone, making art in his garage workshop. Credit: Brian Petrone

Working out of his home, each new work begins in the garage and involves some combination of woodworking, brick and stone sculpting, plaster molding and other big messy tasks. A chop saw, table saw, and hand tools are Petrone’s tools during this early stage. 

The finishing details are applied in the house with smaller tools, like X-Acto knives, paints, and paint brushes for texture. Petrone has taken over the family dining room – to their dismay – to do these final steps.

He has many ideas and usually works on three or four pieces at once. One piece may give him ideas for other pieces, so the creativity builds from piece to piece. 

Petrone’s process involves a great deal of drawing. The preparatory sketches often are all over the house. Credit: Brian Petrone

Petrone often makes sketches to figure out how various forms and shapes can fit together. He might in the moment sketch on a napkin or anything at hand. But he takes all interesting sketches and transfers them to sketch books to keep them available in his atlas of images and forms. 

With sketch in hand, he heads to the garage. While cutting materials, Petrone continues to evolve and redefine the initial sketchbook-based ideas. The work is messy, sloppy and unrestricted to change in the garage. When he achieves a pleasing direction on a piece, the messy stage is finished and gets moved to the house for refinement.

He creates details and layers in his dining room studio. He might add small pieces of bass wood or remove pieces to create a different abstract image. Some areas might be painted and other wood shapes added. The process slows down at this point, and Petrone may work on a piece for a few weeks or even a few months in order to arrive at the effect for which he strives.

The end is mentally taxing.

“Am I done? I continue to question myself and get other inputs. My wife puts her eye on it too.” Petrone explains.

He is open to criticism and revision, but at some point, does finish the piece. Or, maybe look at it for several weeks more to see if time and fresh eyes reveals clarifying refinement. He tries to not make time a limiting factor.

Petrone is happy to be in Evanston where through Evanston Made his work is found by many smaller collectors wishing to pay a smaller price tag than would be expected in a gallery. 

To learn more about Brian Petrone and his art, visit www.petronedesign.com, Instagram at studio.petrone, or his Evanston Made Portfolio page.

Jean Cunningham retired from the business world and is now enjoying the next phase, including writing about local artists to increase awareness of Evanston’s amazing art community.

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