Born in New York City in 1909, Brooks spent the majority of his life working as a linotype operator for the New York Times before turning to painting at the age of 60 upon retirement. Brooks discovered Monhegan Island in the 1970s, and made a name for himself in the Maine art scene over the next twenty years with his colorful and playful watercolors of the island’s rocky shores and its inhabitants.
Brooks studied at the Art Students League, and became a member of the National Art League, Hudson River Contemporary Artists, Mamaroneck Artists Guild, 30 Artists and the Salmagundi Club. His works are in the collection of the Portland Museum of Art and the Farnsworth Museum. His photographs, taken during the Depressions when he worked as a documentary photographer for the WPA, are held in the photography collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.