Anne Beverly Brown is also known as Brownie! - exclamation mark included.
Why you ask? Well, because adding that exclamation turned out to be a
bit of a eureka moment in the unfolding of her creative self.
Anne recognized her artistic nature very gradually and you could say she was a bit of a late bloomer coming of age at a time when young women weren’t encouraged to take up much space in the arts. While obtaining a degree in Biology from the University of London, England, she was truthfully more interested in writing songs and poems than learning about the development and evolution of living organisms (although that was also fascinating). But circumstances due to transitioning from the Canadian school system into the British one at age 14, where her family relocated, led her towards the sciences (that's a story for another time).
After university Anne returned to her birthplace in Western Canada - big sky country and the mountains called. That biology degree did come in handy though; it landed her a job as an environmentalist for a large oil company. Sadly, the position felt like a contradiction in terms since it was just at the dawn of industry recognizing a responsibility towards the environment and a lot of the work felt like lip service. For an unabashed earth-tone it wasn’t a perfect fit but it was a landing pad as well as a launch pad to a more aligned future.
So after a few years with some cash stashed, Anne quit cold turkey to walk the road less traveled taking a part-time job at 'The Natural Bread Store’ - a place just around the corner from where she lived in Calgary, Alberta. This freed up time to study painting and voice while continuing to write songs and poems which she performed in local venues accompanying herself on guitar. This was the pivotal moment in her life which she describes as ‘taking the reins’.
During this time, one of the regular customers at The Natural Bread Store became her husband. After traveling the world together on a shoe-string for many months, one back-pack and a guitar between them, they settled down in Bragg Creek, Alberta, where they designed and built a log-house complete with a recording studio called ‘The Ark’. It’s here they produced two CDs of Anne's songs as well as two children.
Meanwhile Anne continued to perform in coffee houses, folk clubs and festivals near and far. But with kids nearing school-age, another dream of Anne’s started to surface - that of home-schooling. She was inspired by the idea way back in her days of England, having stumbled upon a book on the subject written about a vanguard family in rural Wales giving it a try. So for the next fourteen years, music was set aside with only the occasional moment to paint.
Once the children were grown and on their way, Anne was able to return to herself. The trouble was she wasn’t exactly sure where she’d left her because she certainly wasn’t still in the place she’d been all those years ago. For starters, she was now more interested in painting, it being a solitary simpler pursuit compared with recording and performing music. And anyways, her heart was now firmly enmeshed with the land having enjoyed rural life for so long, meaning she had become besotted by the beauty everywhere. An insatiable desire to express that beauty through painting began to take a firm hold and that’s where we find her today.
And so now about that exclamation mark. But before that, the nickname. Anne’s first art instructor liked to call her Brownie and when he did, it was always said with much fun and affection. Anne didn’t think of using it as a signature until she realized one day how light and happy it made her feel. By then, and not so long ago, she had finally lost much of that angst that can come with the creative life - self-doubt and over-expectation of results. She was approaching the privilege of making art as a meditation, a communion and a prayer of gratitude for the gift of life. Adding the exclamation mark has become a tiny celebration each time Anne finishes a painting.
Simultaneously, the writer in Anne is percolating again, although not as in songwriting. Please visit her Writing Page, also known as 'Brownie's Version', where Brown will expound!