Michael Brunswick. Photo by Garrett Leight.

Michael Brunswick. Photo by Garrett Leight.


The michael Brunswick I know…

He's a great inspiration. And he brings peaches and herb tea for everybody. Mike is big into peaches and even bigger into herbs. But what he's biggest into is eyewear and art.

If you see Mike walking down the street in Venice you will never forget him. His glasses will be off the charts hip. In cold weather, so will his Russian burlap coat that looks like it was issued to him in the Siberian gulag. John Lennon would go crazy for Mike's collection of sunglasses. It's like a museum of the coolest retro shades ever.

I was blown away by Mike's paintings the first time I visited him in his studio. I particularly loved one tall, thin one that was leaning against the wall. "How much for that one, Mike?" 

"Oh, that's not a painting. That's my tool."


Mike explained that he often paints with his canvases flat on the floor. He will swipe paint across them in layers. To get this effect, he uses another, slimmer canvas. He "paints" with one edge of this canvas. Paint oozes over onto the surface of this tool as Mike works with it. It becomes a work of art in itself.

What I realized about Mike as I got to know him is that everything he does is art. The way he raises his kids, the way he loves his wife, the kind of friend he is. Art is who Mike is. He's innocent. You can take advantage of him. But this openness is what makes Mike's art great and will make it greater still as the years go by. 

Here's an example of how Mike thinks:

He was looking at one of his paintings in the studio. He got the idea to turn it around backwards, so the rear side of the frame was facing out. He set it against the wall, alongside other artworks and photos that happened to be hanging there. He shot the whole thing as a photo, then turned that photo into a painting. 

It was great.

Mike's stuff is full of layers. The surfaces change as you look at them. This is no accident. Mike is deliberately messing with the light and fooling around with the way the eye perceives a surface. You can stare at one of Mike's paintings for twenty minutes and keep seeing new stuff. I'm not versed in Artspeak, so forgive me if I can't really describe what I see when I look at Mike's work. 

What I know is that the work is not separate from who Mike is. It flows out of him directly. Everything he does is art and everything he touches becomes art.

Our trainer at the gym is T.R. Goodman. T.R. trains elite pro athletes as well as regular guys like us, so he knows his stuff on deep, deep levels, way beyond the physical. T.R. is always telling me to watch Mike, to watch how he breathes, how he focuses, how he ratchets up the intensity when he needs it. "You're about here," T.R. says to me, holding his hand at about waist-height. Then he raises his hand to above shoulder level. "That's where Mike is. That's where you have to get to."

See what I mean? 

Everything Mike does is art.


Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art