Becoming and remaining an artist may not have been as comfortable of an option as I had once thought. It didn’t become a hobby or pastime. It has been a trying and, sometimes, painful devotion that, apart from a heartbeat, could obliterate life as I'd expected it to be. Being a dedicated artist means that I've had to stay the course, no matter how challenging because the ability to stay is exactly what fuels and generates the discovered ingredients that reflect in my work. Practice can make perfect but defeating pain ensures perseverance. For me, being an artist has had to be a religious experience and life only happens if I keep painting. In return, I gain a fulfillment including an unbroken sense of progress, purpose and time used to its best. There's no reason for me to live a different way. It's been a most incredible gift in near impenetrable wrapping.
For me, painting realism is a mix of objectives and challenges. The objectives include leaving a crafted narrative about a world I experienced or token of inspiration for others in the future. The challenge lies in pursuing potentials, to grasp purpose and reasons for living beyond nature's most obvious plan. The term 'artist' leaves a lot to be said or understood so I put the query to myself. The only answer is in comparing what the eye takes in to what the hand can bring back out in one manner or another. I could have chosen a different genre but as a youth I'd been inspired by classical masters as if they weren't yet ready to retire. An old palette box was given to me and I've never wanted to close it back up. A library of art history books line my studio and with artists like John Singer Sargent and his colleagues to browse through from that era, I'm addicted. Of course, realism never did vanish. It's as if someone managed to mute the speakers for a while but times have changed again and I'm quite excited by what is being created today.
To me, realism has always seemed the benchmark of visual art. It left me sensing I could reach in and touch it, or step in and be there. I feel it's the genre with greatest communicative dimensions that could incorporate characteristics of any other technique whether abstract, expressionist or even photographic. Realism was the master language and I wanted to be part of it.
My work reaches well beyond initial observations. What I see is what most may see but I'm in no rush to look away because something else is there or something is happening. There's a kind of stimulation, like a hidden starting gun. That's where a painting really starts because I'm a long way into it by the time the first strokes go on a canvas. It's not a matter of rationalization as much as it's a subtle but sure sensation about a visual outcome. It's too intricate to explain but the potential for a painting flashes in my mind and I'll trust my sense in pursuing whatever it may be. Though I see something new every day and the resources for painting images are all around, I must be connected with the scene including how I appreciate it, understand it or simply would like to narrate it. Sometimes it’s a preservation process, an experience I wish to highlight amongst memories. There again, sometimes there's no logical reason other than the lines, the form, the light and how I can see it recreated with exploration and personal expression. That’s where I'll find the greatest possibilities of all.
Painting is an exploration of visual effects and possibilities. I not only must discover these and reflect a subject but also myself, the artist. The most predominant feature or signature on a canvas is how rather than what I painted . It's as if there must be a train of thought or state of mind reflected. "Realism" reaches well beyond initial observation. It's a utilization and manipulation of reality. It's an extension, an amplification process that forms a creative translation. It's a mirror into which I look. As a representational painter, my finished canvas is a reach for the finest ability today that strives to surpass yesterday. I'm out to stimulate visual passions, most of all my own. My ultimate objective is in challenging that ability to discover and reflect more of myself and find out who I am.
Bruce W. Braithwaite