Making art has always been a pure joy for Isabella Brouster. “I come from a long line of artists. I started drawing in preschool, and I’ve kept going ever since,” Brouster says. “My grandma on my mother’s side is the main influence in my life because she’s an amazing artist. My grandpa, on my father’s side is also a wonderful artist, so the love is there, and it’s very strong.”
Brouster’s natural talents for drawing and painting coupled with her facility with color and materials blossomed into a passion as a teenager at Villa Duschesne high school. “My art teacher, Mrs. Sarra, taught me art is everywhere. The super-sunny, calming atmosphere of her class made me really excited to be there. She taught me that art is food for the soul,” Brouster says. “She put me on the path to do art professionally for the rest of my life.”
For the love of art • When Brouster chose not to study art and pursued a master’s degree in psychology instead, her family was surprised, but Brouster knew it was the right decision.
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“I was against being graded for my artwork, so I took a rebellious path to try my best to become a freelance artist without an art degree,” she says. As ever, her family helped fuel her success.
She mainly gifted her paintings to her kith and kin. She got her first commission to paint wall murals while she was still in high school through word of mouth.
Her house portraits caught fire in college when a relative referred her to a real-estate agent who wanted to give paintings of the houses she sold as gifts. Her pet portraits took off with postings on social media and through the grapevine, as did her portraits of their humans.
Walking on sunshine • After graduation, the artist and psychology major with hours of study in childhood development landed a job teaching art at St. Clement School is Des Peres. “Art is definitely the center of my world now. I love teaching it, and I love seeing kids become excited about art,” she says.
Her skills in art and psychology led her to work with writer Kelley C. Lamm on the illustrations for her book “Oh Olive: Oh No! A Thunderstorm!” It is the first of a series of books to help children cope with fears.
“’Oh Olive’ was the biggest job and my most professional experience so far. I had doubts because I never thought of myself as an illustrator, but I gave it my best shot and I’m glad I did,” she says. She overcame her fears and painted Olive into the world, complete with the dog’s heart-shaped spots and her wide, comforting smile.
Family • Her parents are Shelley and Tom Brouster; her boyfriend is Nick Yost. Brouster lives with two cats, Chloe and Lola. Her much-loved cat Zoe recently died and left the pack.
What she makes • Original commissioned paintings including portraits, houses, pet portraits, murals and illustrations.
Where to buy • People who are interested in commissioning work may contact her by direct message her through her Instagram account, @bellabrousterart.
How much • Brouster sells her original paintings priced by size — an 8-inch-by-10-inch piece is $150, for example. She quotes murals and illustration jobs after discussing the project with potential clients, beginning with a direct message to her through her Instagram account.