For painter Brianna Lance, inspiration comes in many forms: meditation, tarot readings and dreams to name a few. In these spaces, the ego becomes an afterthought and creativity an endless reservoir that she can tap into whenever she needs it.
Her richly detailed watercolor tableaus are filled with evocative symbols and imagery—cresting azure ocean waves, a black-and-white snake slithering through a pear, or a pointillistic landscape of swirling yellow flowers that often springs up while meditating. Lance, who works out of a bright apartment in the East Village, also finds inspiration in other artists’ fantastical, intricate works, like Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights. “There’s so much to look at,” she says. “It makes you feel like you can keep rediscovering it.” It’s the kind of feeling she hopes her own work evokes in viewers. “My goal is for people who collect my art to never find it boring.”
Lance has painted throughout her life, first learning techniques as a child from Bob Ross along with her grandfather, who recreated famous artists’ works on the back covers of Reader’s Digest. But it wasn’t until the Covid-19 pandemic that she started pursuing the creative endeavor full-time. What began as a way to occupy her “brain from spinning out” has since evolved into a rigorous artistic practice. After a successful career in fashion, Lance became disillusioned with her contributions to cycles of waste and consumerism. Coming back to painting was, in her words, “the first choice I ever really made for myself as far as saying, ‘This is what I want to do.’”
Lately, Lance has been fascinated with the relationship between beauty and brutality, in part inspired by living in New York. “I find the city so harsh in a lot of ways. I think it makes me want to make things that are beautiful,” she remarks. But while her work may appear pretty on the surface, unsettling details often emerge upon further inspection—a cracked egg, a bleeding arrow and other Bosch-like flourishes. Either way, Lance leaves herself open to the varied visions that pop into her mind. “The ideas don’t come from me,” she explains. “So it’s not my responsibility to judge them.”