Artist’s unlikely combinations create unusual perspective

Alumnus Brad Carmichael creates pieces using abstract and classical techniques.

Alumnus Brad Carmichael sits in front of his latest works, “I Walk the Streets at Night.” | DANIEL RAINVILLE TTN

Brad Carmichael wants to be considered the Michael Jordan of painting.

“I want to be a painter like Michael Jordan plays basketball,” said Carmichael, a local visual artist, painter and sculptor, and a 2007 painting and drawing alumnus.

Carmichael’s work combines abstract and classical painting, using one to amplify the other and create a cohesive work.

Similar to his art, Carmichael’s life in high school was a combination of different worlds.

“I was all over the place,” Carmichael said. “I played sports year round, I was into music and art as well. I did football and track. I had a scholarship somewhere for football, but yeah I chose the artistic path.”

Carmichael was part of the last graduating class to attend the Tyler School of Art’s former campus in Elkins Park.

“You would write your own curriculum for some classes,” Carmichael said. “During the foundation program, the dropout rate was insane. I think I stayed up three days in a row once. That’s about when you start hallucinating.”

The rigorous program and opportunity to try different mediums allowed Carmichael to figure out what his style and passion was. Prior to arriving at Tyler, Carmichael wasn’t quite sure.

“It just kind of developed while I was there,” Carmichael said.

During his time at Tyler, Carmichael was greatly influenced by his late professor, Frank Bramblett.

“He pretty much taught me how to paint, specifically the method and approach I use,” Carmichael said. “It didn’t matter much that I was a student and he was a professor. We would often run into each other on campus and talk until we were both very late for wherever it was we were supposed to be. I guess he may have been a mentor. If he was anything, he was a good man and a great artist.”

The curriculum at Tyler encouraged exploration, exposing students to new mediums they did not typically work with. Carmichael attributes his innovative style to the multifaceted programs offered at Tyler.

He experimented with encaustic art, or painting with wax and then sealing the work with a heat gun.

“That’s why my work is a little eclectic,” Carmichael said. “Sometimes it was too many choices, but I liked to mix stuff.”

“I plan on going back [to encaustic] eventually, but it’s just not where I am right now,” he added.

“My work is a bit of exchange, connection and separation among different things,” Carmichael said. “You have things like Greek mythology, which is a part of human history, and I like to relate that to present day things, such as music. So I’m thinking, rock ‘n’ roll and Greek mythology. Now we’re cooking.”

Carmichael continued his art education at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in order to procure a Master’s in fine arts. He worked closely with a drawing professor, Michael Moore, during his time there.

“He’s a person that surprises you with everything he has to say through art, things that he might not be able to say in person with words,” Moore said. “That is a really important part of him. That for me was the big surprise when I really got to know him.”

Jed Williams, owner of his self-named gallery on 615 Bainbridge St., featured Carmichael in one of his past exhibitions. The 2015 show included Carmichael and three other artists, focusing primarily on emerging artists.

“I think he is one of the more talented artists I have shown,” he added.

“I see in his work a full range of color,” Moore said. “One of the things I liked is that he used a quote from Georgia O’Keeffe on his Facebook which was really wonderful. She said, ‘I found I could say things with colors and shape that I couldn’t say any other way—things that I had no words for.’ I think that is how he comes across to me.”

Erin Blewett can be reached at

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