Bruce Black (born August 15th, 1970) An American visual artist, primarily a realist painting the southwest and western United Sates. Bruce currently lives in Arizona, where he paints and teaches art.
Painting the Great West
A true westerner, I grew up in Arizona and have stomped around the southwest and northwestern parts of the United States most of my life. As a boy, I got to round up cattle in Utah during the summer, ski the Rockies in the winter, backpack around Northern Arizona, and I even got up into Wyoming’s Tetons region. As a young man starting out my artistic career, I spent time in Oregon and enjoyed painting the foggy coastline as well as those emerald-green forests. The Western landscape is burned into my soul and when I paint, I paint those experiences.
What I look for in a painting is a feeling, something mysterious and beautiful. I like to find places where the light has carved deep pools of shadow and left bright, warm areas lit. This I see as metaphor for the human spirit, dark and unknowable and simultaneously bright and alive. The wilderness puts us humans in our place. It shows us to be small and fragile, but it is also the awesomeness of nature that calls us to it and makes us feel alive and connected with spirit. I make my paintings using old world techniques and archival methods. I mean for them to last for generations and to fill hearts with joy and wonder. May they bring you peace and introspection.
We all have different people inside us, different personalities. We are, at alternating times, a combination of a scared child, a responsible adult, a warrior, an angry psychopath, a loving soul, a shallow and selfish human, and a giving and spirit loving person of faith. As our lives fill with the endless tasks and responsibilities of modern life, our attention is pulled in myriad directions, and it becomes increasingly difficult to be who we really want to be, our best selves.
Our best self is that part of us that yearns for a wholeness and a purpose. It happens when we reach out to others to give comfort, and it happens when we walk in the woods and listen to the wind. Our best self is that person in each of us that is connected to spirit and at peace with the world. Our best self is when we are without judgement of ourselves or others and are in a state of calm meditation.
This is where art has always entered my life. Art has been a way to reconnect and to find balance. There is something wonderful about the process of painting that leads to a sense of ease. You begin with an empty and pure canvas, and then you create discord and chaos. Gradually, over time, you work that discord into harmony and order. It is a highly satisfying and meditative practice. Sitting in my studio and working quietly on a painting never fails to revitalize my spirit.
Nature has also played a great role in my life. The outdoors calls to me and soothes me in a way that going to church soothes so many. In my paintings, there is generally a sense of landscape. As much as I may attempt to work abstractly, the landscape seems to insert itself somehow. The warm colors of the southwest permeate my paintings. You see the reds of the Sedona cliffs and the greens of the Palo Verde trees. Greys and tans and ochres are all abundant in my work and come from nature.
With my abstract paintings, I am attempting to establish a feeling, usually a feeling of meditation or mystery. I want the paintings to call to you and pull you in. I want your eyes to travel the image's surface, lighting on the bright parts and being sucked into the darker tones. I want your eyes to experience the painting in the same manner that your ears experience a symphony. That is, without judgement or linear understanding, but rather with pure emotion and experience. I want the paintings to fill your soul and sit quietly in your heart.
The paintings, of course, can't do all the work. You, the viewer, must open your heart to the paintings and work with them. You must suspend judgement and the notion that the eye must build recognizable forms where none are intended. Allow yourself to just look and absorb the shapes and colors. Then, look away for a while and come back to the image later on. See if it has changed, or if perhaps you have changed. Greet the image anew and allow it, once again, to fill your spirit. If we work together on this, me the artist, and you the viewer, I will tell you, we can change the world.
I hope that my paintings find you and bring you the joy and warmth with which they are intended.