Benita Brewer

Benita Brewer is an artist residing outside Chicago, IL but has lived in different areas of the country. Her imagery often reflects the colors and shapes of her surroundings and the people that she has met. She works mainly in transparent watercolor but also loves photography and multi-media.

Benita is currently the Director of the Illinois Watercolor Society and Membership Chair for the Transparent Watercolor Society of America. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from Indiana University and her Master of Fine Arts (MFA) from the University of Cincinnati. After several years of working as a graphic designer and web developer, she became an Assistant Professor at Purdue University - Fort Wayne teaching visual and multi-media design until 2010. Since that time, Benita has devoted herself to painting full-time.

She began her career producing medical illustrations and user-interfaces for interactive kiosks and educational programs based on how people learn, absorb and retain information. As the Design Director for CMG Worldwide, she produced advertisements and websites for the estates of Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe, Malcolm X, Vince Lombardi, Buddy Holly, and Jack Kerouac. Later as a Consultant for Ambassador Solutions, her clients included Lilly & Company, Clarion Health, and Pearson Publishing.  She was awarded an Indiana Arts Commission Individual Artists' Grant and a Purdue University Faculty Research grant. Her work has been exhibited nationally and she is a Signature member of the National Watercolor Society.

For Benita, painting is a form of storytelling and her ideas often start with a personal connection to an object or place. It is the spark she uses to develop a composition that reflects a specific memory but is more abstract and universal in its message. The story may be hers, but she hopes viewers will interpret the image from their perspective and the painting becoming a talisman for their own memories.

Much of Benita’s childhood was spent living in the same house with multiple generations in rural Indiana. As the youngest grandchild, she inherited the leftover pieces such as her grandfather’s hand tools, grandmother’s doilies and button box, mother’s paint brushes, and family board games. She has carried these treasures throughout her adult travels for the connection they give to the past and to the people she loves. Their shapes, colors, and patterns offer inspiration and beg to be painted. 

Benita’s mother was also an artist and taught that the creative process, being creative and making things, was valuable and important. She often set up a mini-canvas to keep Benita occupied as she worked on her own paintings. Although Benita’s grandparents did not consider themselves artists, her grandfather made many of his own tools for his job as a maintenance manager and her grandmother sewed, crocheted and tatted. Benita also enjoys painting portraits using the interplay of reflected light and color to show personality and expression. While the settings are deliberately ambiguous to allow the viewer to form his or her own interpretation, each painting contains elements that allude to the subject’s life and situation.