A Slice of Life: Theodore Colebrook


Few of us discover our passion, much less our profession, in second grade. Theodore “Ted” Colebrook is one of those few. Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Ted took his art seriously from a very early age. Sixty years later, he is still passionate about painting and has become a highly successful and a well-regarded artist. Although Colebrook is as adept at seascapes as he is with portraiture, he has spent this past winter in Florida painting interiors.

The tradition of depicting interiors is long-standing in an artist’s oeuvre. The 17th-century painters gave us glimpses of royal households, as did the Dutch with their wealthy merchants. This trend continues with the 19th-century interiors of the Biedermeier, showing us their unmistakable style. Walter Gay (1856–1937), an important influence in Colebrook’s work, brought modernity to the genre, as he depicted the society of his day. 

In more recent times, Julian Barrow comes to mind. A peripatetic Englishman, he was equally at home on the banks of the Ganges as he was in the most opulent living room. With both Barrow and Colebrook, the client often becomes a life-long friend, giving the artist an even better understanding of how to best construct a composition to reflect the patron’s personality and interests. Whether or not the client occupies the interior of his or her domain, these are not virtual catalogues of spaces, but an artistic expression of how people live.

The recent works of Colebrook’s interiors reflect this slice of a person’s life. Generally, his works are verticals of oil on linen or prepared paper, which become windows on an intimate environment. He believes his work is a combination of “color, prospective, anatomy and composition,” but it is the composition “without which there is no staying power.” Once he has determined his point of view, Colebrook devotes himself to capturing what has intrigued him. Often the client is surprised by what has caught his fancy. In fact, most clients find their space has obtained a sense of grandeur; their eye has taken for granted something that Colebrook has found compelling.

As Colebrook continues the tradition of the interior genre, he can claim also a fellowship with the itinerant painter. As peripatetic as Julian Barrow, Colebrook travels extensively, mostly from job site to job site, earning his way by word of mouth. Society has kept him very busy, and a year’s work could produce 150 pieces. His popularity is not relegated to his talent as a painter: he is an engaging conversationalist, and his enthusiasm for a multitude of subjects is infectious. However, his discretion on the topic of his clients is remarkable. Although he shares his version of one’s personal space, he does not share any of the confidences from within. With his interiors, Ted is continuing an art of a long tradition, yet he is contemporary in his style: his composition makes the eye wander, and the mind wonders what could be behind that door. Get in touch so he can show you how grandly you live! 

For more information, visit theodorecolebrook.com.