Los Angeles Daily Breeze
Sunday, Nov. 15, 1970
by Kathy Stark
"Her cheeks were red with coursing blood and her eyes shone with a mysterious happiness. 'She knows something.' he said to himself. 'Women in this condition have a strong warmth of God in them. In some way they take up the nerve ends of the earth in their hands'."
In "To a God Unknown," John Steinbeck captured the essence of motherhood with prose.
Bill Brootip achieves a universality in kind with oil.
The same elemental simplicity inherent in Steinbeck situations which lifts prosaic events to great heights of drama is portrayed in Brootip's series of paintings on motherhood.
His big canvases are populated with people real in the reality of experience.
The fact that the subjects of these paintings are his family (including himself) is secondary. The event beyond visual actuality is what makes this group - and the preponderance of Brootip work so poignantly accurate.
First is a father abandoning his chores to listen for evidence of an unborn child - his ear pressed against the womb. The mother sitting below a line of clothes strong with a patience implied in the title, "Wash Day Madonna."
The father alone and vacant - somewhat helpless in the face of an awesome mystery - as he awaits the actual birth.Finally - the little boy investigating a bassinet - finding himself a big brother at last.
The palette is cool and economical and there is that quality in the works of having photographed without the restrictions of representationalism . The accuracy of mood without superfluous detail. There is a contemporary spontaneity in his brush strokes and a timelessness in the final impact.
"I want to make a lasting statement of things today." Brootip said. Brootip's quiet unobtrusiveness is deceiving. But, then the former policeman, fireman, Navy man is a whole mass of contradictions which contribute little toward understanding the implausible turns and ultimate direction of his life.
About the only clue to his bold, passionate delineation of the human condition is his astrological sign. Brootip is a Capricorn and one sure sign of a Capricorn male is his superhuman drive to fulfill a natural instinct.....his own success.
The 35 year old artist had a number of false starts and a youth drenched with enough Steinbeck color to make a biographer drool someday. Born in the San Joaquin Valley, Brootip spent summers working in lettuce sheds and later deserted high school to ride sugar beet trains and search for work in Salinas.
His young world was peopled with the itinerant and the no non-sense personalities who milked flowing passages from Steinbeck's mind. The harsh frugality of life and the urgency of meeting the simplest needs indelibly imprinted on Brootip's mind seem to form the very blood and guts which flow beneath the flesh of his subjects.
He paints people because nothing much interests him to the same degree - although he is the process of painting a series on "early Torrance," many of which are peopleless landscapes. (These will be more thoroughly discussed in a later article when the series is ensconced permanently in the new Torrance Library sometime in December.)
Brootip paints alla prima (all at once) in sittings which have stretched into 32 hours. He paints differently at different times and he once wondered why he could not achieve the same style effect he had achieved in his motherhood series.
A voracious reader who often fears for his life before the bloodcurdling demands of suspicious librarians who harangue him for lost books and over due fines - Brootip devoured books of psychology and discovered his problem. "They call it saddling the winged horse of inspiration," he said. "That was when i gave up trying to find out why I did certain things in a certain way."
When I tried to teach someone how to paint, I couldn't tell them anything," he adds with the kind of unconcern one displays when talking about the weather.
Before January 1967, Brootip had never painted a picture in his life. By October of 1970 he had been invited to become part of the permanent collection in the Torrance Library, won "Best of Show" at the Third Annual Gardena Art Exhibit, and opened his first on-man show at the Caribbean West Gallery, 1437 Marcelina, Torrance.
An impressive part of the series on early Torrance may be seen at the Security Pacific Bank, 1347 El Prado, Torrance. The bank rests on the site represented in a huge mural painted by Brootip from a 1941 slide. The story behind this breath-taking work is as extraordinary as the painting - and "extraordinary" is the word for Brootip.