Artist Alyce Broome relaxes in her home studio.
Sun Bulletin Photo by Stan Thompson
Morro Bay artist Alyce Broome searches for a likely scene, and spots one. But sheís not about to set up an easel and take out brushes and oils.
Not inside an airplane.
Broome has recently started carving out a unique niche in the artistic world by capturing aerial perspectives on canvas. The viewpoint is from high in the sky, looking down on subjects that range from farming scenes to coastal configurations.
"An artistic challenge," she says, "getting three-dimensional effects without the horizon line." She must photograph each subject from several different angles for reference when she paints the scene in the solitude of her home studio.
Her sky-camera trips arenít for the faint hearted. "One time over Harmony," she recalls, "I asked the pilot to tip the wing so I could get some clear shots. He did, at a big angle, going around in a circle. The second time around my head started to go funny."
Broome was 35 before starting her art career. Her award-winning works have been featured in exhibitions and juried shows. Her aerial perspective canvases are creating a fresh buzz.
Born in a small North Carolina town, she spent lots of time outdoors soaking in urban and rural landscapes. Her only artistic outlet as a youngster was drawing clothing designs with a friend. In high school she painted school play scenic backdrops.
"Art education was non-existent in the south," Broome says. "I didnít know any artists. Didnít know art could be a career."
Her high school aptitude tests showed high analytical skills, but was just as strong in art. "That surprised me," she recalls. "Iíd had such little exposure to art."
Broome married right out of high school, but it didnít last. Sheíd been working clerical jobs "before my analytical side kicked in," she says, "and I taught myself to be a computer programmer, a fun job where I used my brain."
To satisfy an inner longing, she signed up for an oil painting class, and hasnít looked back. "The only painting Iíd done before was the paint-by-numbers kind," she says. "I discovered the art side of myself, and I liked it." She worked computers for a living, but started taking painting more seriously, even enrolling in night classes.
"I didnít want to paint what everyone else was painting, but to paint my way," she says, "I needed a teacher to help me make it better, to find my own voice."
Into private lessons, Broome decided she needed to learn more about art theory. She began studying at California State at Long Beach one night a week, then made it to two days a week, and finally attended full time.
"Iíd found the kind of excitement Iíd had when I first started computers," Broome says.
In the meantime, she married Chris, whoíd previously hired her as a computer programmer. "Settling in to married life," she says, "was a good environment for pursuing painting."
One day while driving down the Pacific Coast Highway, Broome suddenly turned and said, "Iím going to be an artist full time. Itís past the stage of being a hobby and giving it away."
She created an inventory. "Always too few or too many," she says and began selling in Beverly Hills, Brentwood, and at outdoor art shows in California and Arizona. The pace was often hectic. Broome recalls packing for a Scottsdale show while still putting finishing touches on a painting.
She and Chris moved to Morro Bay six years ago. "Uprooted, it took a year to settle back down," Broome says, "and figure out what to paint. Not tourist art. Painting the same thing over and over takes the fun out of it."
She thrives on spontaneity. "Iíll come home from the farmerís market with a bouquet of flowers," she says, "and drop everything and start painting them."
Broome long had a fascination with the photography book 'Amber Waves of Grain, Americaís Farmlands' that feature aerial views of geometric design patterns created by working the land. When she wanted to paint Cuesta Inlet, but couldnít find a viewpoint., she talked a pilot friend into flying her over the area. "I was hooked," she says, "and had to do more."
Sheís since accumulated some 4,000 aerial photographs from different angles of Central Coast scenes. "Some are out of focus," Broome says, "the plane ride is bumpy, and Iím shooting between the wing and fuselage. But thereís enough for maybe 50 paintings."
She requires several angles of each scene, she explains, "because I canít paint with any honesty unless I get a feeling, a sense of the place." On the ground, thatís easy. But from the air, sheís whizzing by at 150 miles an hour.
Broomeís next adventure? "Learning how to market my paintings on the Internet," she says. "Weíre losing galleries locally."
In the meantime, if you hear a buzzing high above your head, look up and smile.
Alyce Broomeís paintings will be featured at the 3rd Annual Morro Bay Recreation and Parks Art Show and Silent Auction at the Morro Bay Community Center on Saturday, March 18, 2006. For more about Broome and her work, visit her website at www.alycebroome.com.
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