Sunday, October 18, 2015

Photography and Kenpo Karate: An Artistic Journey in Multiple Ways at a Huk Planas Seminar

"Huk" Digital Photo taken with a Nikon 5200, by Jesse Brown
Location: Bruce Epperson's Kenpo Karate Dojo in Paradise, CA
July, 2015

This photo is one in a series of photos that was taken this past summer at a Kenpo seminar hosted by Bruce Epperson, featuring Richard "Huk" Planas. I want to thank Bruce for granting me the permission to photograph this seminar. It was a lot of fun and it presented some unique photographic challenges that made my task very interesting. The challenges were good for thinking creatively about how to photograph the participants in a great and uniquely designed space. 

For those that may be reading my blog for the first time, I am a person of many interests. I take on many tasks and projects because I have so many interests. I hold BFA and MA degrees from CSU, Chico.  I studied studio art and history while I was attending classes there. At the same time, I studied Kenpo Karate for nearly the entire time I was enrolled at CSU, Chico. I studied painting, drawing, and printmaking while I was in the art program at Chico State. I picked up photography as a practical matter later because I needed to record my own images instead of paying someone extreme amounts of money to make a record the art that I produced. As such, I have dived into photography full force. 

In writing this article, I have a couple of intentions. One, I want to just share the experience of studying Kenpo Karate here in northern California under the Parker/Planas Lineage. Two, I want to share a photographic and creative message and journey I take as I photograph Kenpo artists around the northern half of California. One of the jobs of artists is to share a story with their work. Each piece of work relays something different. A single image conveys something different than what it might within an entire series of images. It is my job to figure out how to convey my thoughts and experiences. 

The image above is my favorite in a series of images that I took that day. It is my favorite for several reasons. The light and dark captured in the image adds a sense of mystery and solemness to the moment captured. Many martial artists are teachers and they understand the profound sense of importance teachers have in the role of molding their students. There is also a sense of peace that is captured. The expression on Master Planas's face conveys a sense of peace in that moment. It is a very "martial art moment" as I call it. It kind of captures the experience, and I think a great deal of that goes back to the lighting and expression that I was fortunate enough to record. 

In contrast, I have spent enough time at these seminars to know that that is not the prevailing mood. I know we try to mix in a good deal of fun and humor as we embark on the serious task of training ourselves. As I have been taught by my own instructor, Chuck Epperson, you have to keep it fun to you are motivated to keep training.As can be seen in the next photo, where Chris and Brandon are sharing an amusing moment during training.
"Amusing Moment" digital photos taken on a Nikon 5200
Location: Paradise, California
Time: July 2015
Copyrights belong to Jesse Brown
(Please contact Jesse Brown for permission to copy, reproduce, and/or share)

My experience in training with my school, from Chico, California, and in training at seminars featuring Master Planas here in northern California is there is a good dose of entertaining fun mixed in with some very serious knowledge regarding Kenpo and martial arts. The fun part comes in because we see so many of the same people many times each year. Many of the schools and practitioners live an hour or more apart, starting in Redding, California working all the way down to Alameda, California. (I would like to point out at this time there are other schools in California, but they fall out of the range of northern, so I am merely drawing a geographic distinction based on what I know. I have left anyone out, please accept my apology in advance). 

Telling any story, whether it is about a single person, organization, or a group of people, it can be extremely complicated and may miss parts and it can only be told from one perspective - which is the perspective of the one who writes it. No matter how hard an author or artist tries to convey a different perspective other than their own, it will still be their own perspective. It is like we learn in Kenpo. There are a set of rules and principles that make up the motion. Beyond that, the expression of those rules and principles will be unique to whoever is doing it. 

I simply want to get our story out there. Photos can help with that. Words and stories can help a little more. We have a very rich and valuable story to tell in the art of Kenpo within the Parker/Planas lineage. It is a humble one in my opinion as well. The time on the mat training is the ultimate measure of what we do and what we understand, and there is no finishing point for the training. It is an endeavor that continues, but only if each person continues to train what they have learned. 

"Scott and Bruce" digital photo taken with a Nikon 5200 by Jesse Brown
Location: Paradise, CA
Time: July 2015

Photography is a medium for creative expression, just as are many disciplines in the area of the arts. Kenpo is no exception to that either. Photography is also a means by which we can help preserve memories.  Kenpo is an experience where we can help create memories within the family of people that we train with. I think one of the things I have learned, along with some great Kenpo, over the last couple of years of going to so many seminars here in northern California is that the extended family of Kenpo artists are a valuable group of people who make training better and more enjoyable. As Master Planas says, Kenpo is a set of rules and principles that define motion in a certain way to make our movements efficient and useful in defending ourselves. But, beyond that, it is a group of people that make training interesting, valuable, and memorable. 

Art, like so many things in life, is defined by the perspective each person brings to the table when they express themselves. Kenpo and photography are no different. My experience at the July seminar, as well as at the other seminars, was amazing and I hope I captured some of the moments well. I was to express thanks and appreciation to all those who were there and participated and did not mind me snapping so many photos. I again want to thank Bruce Epperson for letting me shoot the event. I will be doing more work with martial arts and photography. Please continue to follow my work as I post it here and on Facebook. If you have any requests or questions, do not hesitate to email or call me. My email is - thanks for reading and continue to train and make art. Both are a journey that yield many benefits!


"Paradise Seminar Photo" digital photo taken with Nikon 5200
Location: Paradise, CA
Time: July 2015
(If anyone from the photo wants a copy, just email me at and I will send them one without the watermark - or hit me up on Facebook and I will get it to them). 

**Note: As of the publishing of this entry, I am still finishing the editing of all the photos from the seminar. Please be patient and I will post more soon. I am sorry it is taking awhile, but time has been limited lately. Also, be sure to email me with questions, comments, and requests. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A New Interview Posted

I had the pleasure of doing an interview recently with Brandon Hubbard. He is a Kenpo black belt from the Sacramento area. We did a photo shoot together that was quite fun and turned out well. Brandon is one of those artists/martial artists who is easy to work with. One of the things that I learn with each interview is that each artist, each person, has his/her own story and that story evolves over time, just as their work does. 

The photo above was taken at Folsom Lake, in Folsom, CA. We had a bit of an adventure trying to get to the spot. There was some fabulous boulders that were perfect for doing a martial arts shoot over the water. It was a truly exciting experience to be shooting photos in such an amazing place with such a talented martial artist. 

I would encourage you to go by and give the interview a read. You can find it here, - There are several photos from the shoot that showcase Brandon's versatility and creativity within the art as he was posing for photos. Enjoy the interview and stay tuned for more work! There are more interviews coming soon, so be sure to look out for those as well!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


This video is amazing. Artists are always looking to be inspired. If you have the time, check this out. Whether you are an athlete, an artist, someone looking to find success, or just a person with goals and dreams, this video is worth watching because it makes you think about what you can do to find the success you want and reach the goals you want to reach. 

I am working on some interviews and they will get posted in the near future. Stay tuned and check back for when I get to post them. Enjoy your day!!


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Art Fair on June 21, 2015, in Alameda!!

Hello friends and viewers of Brown Artworks. We are showing in Alameda on June 21! Mark it on your calendar, come by, and enjoy the day! It should be an outstanding event with a lot to see do, experience, and buy! We are looking forward to it and appreciate Studio 23 including us in the event!! If you have any questions, be sure to email us! We will have a lot of new work there as well!!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Water and Stone: A Diversity of Perspectives

One of my series that has been ongoing is the "Water and Stone" series. I try to capture this comparison in a variety of ways. My professor and mentor from college, Marion Epting, helped me to look at the world through a particular lens, which comes from the simultaneous coexistence of opposites. The subject of water and stone can bring a variety of images and ideas to each viewer because of the universality of these two substances. We all bring a different experience with water and stone, depending on what path our lives have taken. For me, I grew up along the Sacramento River in northern California. I think this is where my first fascination with water started. I also grew up in the shadow of the Sierra Nevada. Having these two powerful images on my doorstep helped to create my background for where I have taken this series. I love the natural colors of stone and how the subtlety of water can contrast directly with the fierce and unyielding nature of rock. 

In the above picture, I love the colors that can be seen spread out across the stone's surface. In contrast, small stream of water flowing over the top of stone runs down and drops towards the ground, creating an amazing contrast that just captures my attention and defines the essence of water and stone for me. It is something that speaks on a subconscious level that is difficult to put into words. What I want is to have each viewer find a point in their own experience where they can identify with the essence of this picture, and any other picture in the "Water and Stone" series. 

The challenge of working in a series is trying to explore the nature of the issue at hand in different ways that are interesting and unique. In addition to that, it is an even greater challenge to let each picture stand alone, as well as in a group. One of the reasons it is important for me to make pictures that can stand alone, as well as work in a unified series. There is a story that goes on as you go through each piece, because they evolve over time. My vision of water and stone, as well as that of the simultaneous coexistence of opposites, changes as I work my way through the series and try looking at different ideas. 

This particular image is tries to capture the subtle relationship of water and stone, while some of the other images deal more directly of the interaction of water and stone in a more violent way because the water source comes from the ocean, not a trickle of water running towards the ground. A good piece of art will move the viewer to think about relationships and ideas. In this time of drought, I can't help but think about water very differently as I work through this series. It is my hope that a viewer will bring their own experience and use my image to help prompt further thinking about the subject of water and stone based on their own experiences. 

I will be posting more of these images in this series soon, so please stay tuned. 

Thanks for reading!


Sunday, April 12, 2015

New Paintings on Stone from Esther Brown

These are new paintings on stone from Esther. Please take a look and leave a comment if you have time. I will be writing another article soon. So be sure to check back and see what is new!! Thanks!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

What does it mean to have an artistic style?

This is Esther's piece of an octopus that has been abstracted by her. Her life growing up near the ocean, and her continued influence of the ocean can be seen here.

As I push forward into this artistic journey with my family, I am forced to think about a great many things that I might not otherwise spend time on. One of those many things is this concept of 'style.' Style is something that you have to be aware of as you begin to display your work more and put it out there more for the public to see. An artist should probably understand the style they work in if they want to connect with an audience. Anyone who wants to appreciate and/or collect art will want background into the style that an artist works in. It is because of this that I write this piece today. 

I like to break things into clear and understandable parts so the concept is easy to understand. Part of this comes from my experience as a teacher. Fancy art language is not necessary to convey complex artistic concepts, contrary to some widely held beliefs. I will break this into three parts so both artists and viewers can equally appreciate my point of view on style and why it is important. 

For the artist, style is about what influences each painter, sculptor, etc. This can be a complex number of influences, but our world is rarely simple. However, if you want to make it understandable, then it is important to define influences in an understandable way. For me, I recognize where I come from, northern California, as a major part of my influence. For my mother, Esther, she grew up close to the ocean and always went fishing with her father. For these reasons, you can always see birds in my work and fish and other ocean-based animals in her work. Northern California and the ocean continue to both be strong influences for us. Those are just one part of our influences. Each artist has some core experiences that shape how and why they do things. Where and how they live can, and often are, parts of this influence on style. For the viewer, it begins to help give context as to why and how art works come to be what they are. For the artist, it is important to understand and talk about this so they can form a relationship with the viewer who is interested to know that background. For the viewer, the more that is known about an artist's personal history, the more sense a piece of art will make sense. It becomes part of the internal dialogue that can be created as each piece is viewed. 

Here you can see my preference for birds included in my composition. This comes partly from where I grew up along the Sacramento River in northern California.

Personal history is but one part. The second part is about artistic choices that each artist makes. The choices that each artist makes involves many, many different factors as each work of art is generated. For me, some of those choices are pushed by the fact that I grew up in an artistic family and was taught by my mother. Her style and ideas influenced my thinking. My college professors also influenced my thinking, in particular Marion Epting and Anne Pierce.  An artist's mentors are inseparable from the direction an artist takes in their career. Teachers are integral in developing anyone's direction in whatever they choose to do, so art is no different. It is why we often look to where different artist's are taught and work in their early years. Artistic choices are also influenced by artists from history that each person chooses to follow and emulate. Esther favors Delacroix, Arshile Gorky, and some of the impressionists. Sometimes we may or may not see direct influences in the work itself, but artists who have favorites from history are at least influenced indirectly in their thinking, if not directly in their work that they produce. For me, I am influenced by the way my mother creates her work, but also the historical work of Dali, and the period of the Baroque in Italy and the concept of teneberism. (Teneberism is the use of extreme light and dark in art to create a dramatic effect). If an artist wants to have an educated conversation about his or her work, then understanding historical influences and artistic choices are key. 
This drawing shows my influence of the artistic concept of teneberism that was used a great deal during the Baroque period in Italy in painting.

The last, and perhaps most important piece of understanding style is understanding the context of each individual art piece, and the context of an entire series. Context is what helps create a dialogue with the viewer. There are two dialogues that go on with each piece. There is what the created work of art says to each viewer, and then there is what the artist intended to to say with the piece of art. One is always changing because each viewer brings their own experience to each piece. Therefore, the dialogue between art and viewer is always somewhat different from person to person. The intent of what the artist wanted to create remains constant because that is based on one person, and that person is the artist. As an artist, it is the hope that the work is universal enough to capture an audience, but complex enough always keep the viewer thinking. Context is based on subject, materials, the method in which a work is created, historical/contextual relevance of the given subject, and appearance. You could add other factors, but this covers a lot of what context involves, from my point of view. Art is exactly that as well, it is based on points of view. Often times we deal with multiple points of view, so no work of art is really that simple, even if it is incredibly simple in appearance. 

When I create a work of art, I hope to create something that can generate a relationship with a viewer. As a viewer, I want something that speaks to me in such a way that I feel I can connect with it. A large part of this is based on the style of work an artist exhibits. For artist and viewer alike, I encourage them to look at style as a way of creating a relationship between the artist and the person viewing the work. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Gisella Williams and her Jewelry

Gisella Williams's gallery is being launched today. She is part of Brown Artworks and she does drawing, painting, ceramics, printmaking, and jewelry making. Here we have 8 examples of her earrings. There are more to come and she will have them on exhibition in May and this summer. When we launch our new website we will be having them there as well. Please take a look and leave a comment if you can. These can be seen on our Facebook page as well. Our Facebook page is here. Thanks for coming by and viewing our work. I will leave more commentary soon. For the moment, enjoy all the new work being posted!


Sunday, March 29, 2015

My Farmer's Market Series that will be displayed in May

So, as I have jumped further into the area of photography, I have been trying to explore different themes. What I really like about photography is that it lets me get more done in a short span of time than painting and drawing would allow me to do. It is a different medium entirely, that is for certain. However, one of the themes I have started exploring is this idea of food and the farmer's market. If you think about it, food and farmers are kind of the backbone of how we survive. So, in a small way, I am trying to pay tribute to them by exploring what they produce visually. Cooking is also another form of art, and food is one of those things that entices us so well when it is displayed properly. What I really enjoyed about these photographs is how vibrant the colors are. I love color in food, and I was recently told that it is important to "eat your colors." I found that very interesting. Also, what I found when I went to farmer's market here in Alameda, people who run their stands were very eager to stand and talk about what they do and even pose for photos. There are a lot of social issues that come forward with the idea of shopping for good food and eating right. I feel like that I am just beginning to scratch the surface of the possibilities with this subject. However, I hope, when I show in May and into the summer, people find the images artful and thought provoking in the sense that it may make them think about what it means to shop at a farmer's market and support more of their local community. Every series, and image, and part of the process of creating art is part of a journey and I am quite excited about how this one is starting out. I have to thank my wife Gina for her support as she collaborates with me on these photos and assists in so many different ways as we begin these photographic journeys together. Go to my gallery to see more of my work here:  

Thanks for reading!! Stay tuned for a lot more work to come!

New Gallery Additions to Esther's Gallery!!

This is new work by Esther Brown. There is more to come. Please go to her gallery on here to see a complete listing of all of her work and see what is going to be display later this spring and summer!! Thank you for taking the time to visit our galleries!! You can find Esther's gallery here:


Saturday, March 28, 2015

New Art for Esther Brown

I am excited to say that there is a lot of new work being generated by the members of my family. My mother, Esther Brown, is leading the way with volumes of new work. This is one of the new pieces. I will be posting new images to her gallery soon, but while we wait for all the images to be processed, I wanted to post this one and talk a little bit about what we are doing. We have a show in May coming up where we will be debuting our new work. Dozens of new pieces will be on display and, with some planning, we will be able to to continue to show this new work over the summer. 

For her part, Esther is working in many new mediums and trying some new styles. These new pieces are very exciting and really showcase some great color and movement within the pieces. Stay tuned here to see what is coming. Also, we will be doing reproductions of certain pieces, so if something gets sold, there will still be some reproductions of people find something they like, but it has been sold. 

For Gina and myself, we are digging deeper into photography. We have some great images and I will continue to blog about those, as well as my paintings and drawings. I recently blogged a photo that we were working on, one of a wave. If you happened to catch that, that is one of our upcoming themes. It is always exciting to dig into new mediums because it brings new ideas. 

Please stay tuned for the expansion of our galleries, as well as additional artist interviews! There are lots of exciting things coming to the blog here! Thanks for reading!!


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Upcoming Series from Gina and Myself

Gina and I have been working together on photography for awhile, but we did not really combine our skills until now. The above picture is a small sample of what is to come from us in May, when we have the chance to present our work again. Photography is a new medium for me. Of course, in today's world, with so many camera phones boasting high quality image capability, an argument could be made that anyone has the ability to be a photographer. There are so things to photography, however, that set some photographers apart from others. There is the ability to line up shots, the ability to edit after the photo, knowing your camera and all of what it can do, and the list goes on. However, there are a lot of just general art skills that are useful as well. Knowledge of light and dark patterns in a picture, as well as knowledge of composition and elements of design in two dimensional images, helps in understanding what makes a good photo. I would say that there are two categories that you look for when taking photos. How well do you know your artistic elements and how well do you know your technical elements. 

For us, we want to create images that are going to be pleasing to us, pleasing to people who view them, and images that have some sort of a story as they are viewed individually and in series. I am quite excited because we have about 4-5 series of photos that, when viewed together, will be very powerful and draw people in, I hope. 

We often go to the Fort Bragg and Mendocino area of California to take short vacations. It is here that we often get good wave pictures. We try to scout out good areas that have good views of the surf and incoming waves. Trying to track waves takes some time and practice. It also helps calm the nerves, too, which is a nice bonus in creating art like this. It is quite peaceful out there. However, when looking at the waves, it may not always be peaceful, but more powerful. Breaking waves have this forceful motion about them, depending on how they are captured in a photo. 

We will be setting up galleries soon here to showcase all of our new work. Please stay tuned and share with others if you get the chance. Thanks for stopping by!!


Friday, March 20, 2015

Water and Stone: A Continuing Series

It is always kind of a challenge to think critically on your art work when you work full time an entirely different job. I came up with this series, "Water an Stone," a few years ago. I have slowly been adding to it. This spring I will be adding to it and displaying some of it, which I am quite excited about. I have added to the series since I last posted this photo. 

What drew me to this series was the idea of working with opposites. As an undergraduate, I explored the idea of the simultaneous coexistence of opposites. I first came across this idea when I had the chance to work with one of my mentors, Marion Epting. I also drew up some of my experience in martial arts. The idea of opposites in present in many forms in eastern thought and philosophy, but it can be found in the motion of American Kenpo Karate as well. 

The material of water and stone are opposites alone, but the myriad of ways to consider their uses and properties just adds to the exploration of how two simple materials can influence our world. Water is soft and flowing. It can allow things that are buoyant to float within it. Stone is hard and brittle, and things rest on it, not within it. They often go together, creating amazing combinations in nature and human made structures. There are so many ways to look at water and stone that it is possible to have series within this series. 

The photo above shows the nature of water flowing and how it appears in conjunction with a human made structure. The stone sits beneath it, abstracted by the bending of rays of light. Water and stone is often used as an attraction to draw people near, as is the case in the abstract representation of a fountain. Water and stone combine to make a soothing sound that moves people to sit in contemplation and/or frolic in happiness. 

Many of the images that will be coming soon are close ups of how water and/or stone combine to move a person in their various emotions. I look forward to sharing more of this series soon and I hope you, the viewer, will enjoy them also. Please stay tuned to my blog for upcoming pieces and they should be added to my gallery soon. Right now, there are a few pieces that sit in the gallery here that represent the beginning of the "Water and Stone" series. 

-Jesse Brown