Realism Today - Jen Brown
Jen Brown, “The Allegory of Climate Change,” 2017, oil on canvas, 34 x 46 in. “Something unseen is emerging from the darkness, upsetting the table and the card game in progress.”

Meet this week’s top Realism Today Ambassador, figurative artist Jen Brown.

Jen Brown was born near Toronto, Canada, in 1978. She holds a master’s degree in art history and a curatorial diploma from York University in Toronto (class of 2004). She has lived in Japan and Mexico, and currently resides in Portland, OR.

Brown is very active in the Portland art community, hosting a monthly salon, curating independently, lecturing at the People’s Colloquium, and exhibiting her work regularly. She is a self-taught painter; however, her education in art history bears insight into the subject and style of her narrative paintings.

Brown was a finalist in the 2018 and 2019 Art Renewal Center’s annual Salon competitions and exhibited with Poets & Artists at the European Museum of Modern Art (MEAM) in 2019. Her work can be found in private collections in the US, Canada, Mexico, the UK, and Australia.

Realism Today - Jen Brown
Jen Brown, “The Allegory of Facebook,” 2017, oil on canvas, 36 x 54 in.

“I saw too much bickering and name-calling on Facebook during and after the 2016 US presidential campaign. I heard stories about families breaking up over Facebook posts,” Brown says. “In ‘The Allegory of Facebook’ (above) I tried to talk about the shattered state of politics and how I felt Facebook had contributed to it.”

Contemporary oil paintings - Jen Brown -
Jen Brown, “The Allegory of Painting,” 2019, oil on canvas, 48 x 36 in.

“The allegory of painting, according to Renaissance iconographer Cesare Ripa, must be a woman with wild hair and a colorful dress, a mask pendant, and she must be gagged, because painting is silent poetry,” Brown tells us.

“I have painted myself with all of the above, but the gag is a bra. Last year I was writing to an artist friend about a nude self-portrait she was working on, considering painting one of my own, when she told me that she was altering her painting because men were making inappropriate comments on her social media about it. As women artists we are still limited by the things we can say.”

Learn more about Jen Brown and her figurative art at

Related > Browse portrait and figure workshops in the style of realism here.