Staff Artist: Elizabeth Brent

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Staff Artist: Elizabeth Brent

Nora Miller, A&E Columnist

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Businesswoman, artist and teacher Elizabeth Brent chooses to continue her career in art through a self-run business and Etsy shop when she isn’t teaching special education and ceramics.

“A lot of [my] work is based on how I’m feeling in that moment and I just see where it goes. I always look at a reference image and for commission work. It’s whatever people ask me to do,” Brent says.

Brent began selling artwork as a sophomore in college when she chose to test her skills in designing sorority and fraternity paddles. Her paddles, which once sold for around $20, now sell for roughly $80 a paddle. She also works on commission pieces, drawing specifically what clients request. Her work ranges from portraits to murals in a variety of different mediums.

“I started to sell my paintings at Kmart in high school to my coworkers and bosses to make extra money,” Brent explains. “In college, I started with the paddles and that was when I realized I could really try out. I also started doing hand-painted plaques and drawings. I opened an Etsy shop in 2013.”

Her Etsy shop led to a full on business named BrentArt LLC, which features pieces from other members of her family, specifically her brother and father, Larry Brent Sr. and Larry Brent Jr. While Elizabeth Brent is the primary owner of BrentArt, the Brent family has participated in a number of art shows as a group.

Brent says that the work she creates for herself is always the easiest, but some of her commissioned work has been challenging through the years.

“One of my most challenging pieces was a Janelle Monae painting that was actually created for a job interview at Niles West. I knew I wanted to do something inspirational about music artists that inspire,” Brent says. “It was really difficult for me to create that and to have an idea and put it on the canvas.”

Brent has always looked to art as an outlet for creativity, but has constantly run into an issue: she’s a “perfectionist.” While this sometimes has made creating pieces more difficult, she accredits teaching with helping her embrace art as it comes. Helping students understand making art for pleasure challenges her strict perspective on “perfect” art.

“I told students to let loose a little bit and not take it so seriously,” Brent explains, “It helped me, and now I’m able to sit down with materials and just see what happens.”

More on Elizabeth Brent’s artwork can be found on her instagram @brentart1 and elizabethbrent.com.