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About the artist

Bruce Skillicorn

Bruce lives in the central Shenandoah Valley, VA. An Australian citizen, he has been a resident of the US since 2004.

Bruce has been painting since 1969 and has periodically produced art full time. He is largely self-taught, and has a style all his own.

While living in India, Bruce began his pursuit of art. It was there that he began creating his own paints – both through grinding minerals and using vegetable matter. While studying under the supervision of his high school art teacher, Bruce spent an entire year just working with color before beginning to paint still life's for a year, and only then the more dificult landscapes. Bruce was so successful that he won his high school’s seldom awarded art prize in grade 10, the first non-senior to do so.

In 1992 he had the opportunity to attend art school and earned a Bachelor of Creative Arts from the University of Southern Queensland (USQ). At graduation, he was awarded the prize for the highest achiever. He subsequently taught theater set design, drawing and painting at USQ until he migrated to the US.

Bruce did most of his painting in Australia, where the light is strong and at times harsh. In that setting, he developed a passion for light and a love for depicting the brilliance of light.

“There is no color, no form without light. It is the depiction of the way in which light falls on a subject that gives an image the illusion of three dimensions. The depiction of reflected light is what grounds an image in its context, and brings harmony and focus to a painting. It is also the way in which light falls on and penetrates pigment that brings a painting alive”, he explains.

Bruce is a strong believer that his calling as an artist is to bring something beautiful and positive to those who see and own his work. He is inspired by the beauty of real things and real places. He wants the both casual viewers on owners of his work to see the beauty all around us through his artist’s eyes and be able to make that a part of their own world.

Some of Bruce’s greatest successes were in painting lively portraits. These are both commercial, and personal. Many of them have been of families inderacting. He produced numerous major academic and corporate commissioned portraits and, for a time, was one of two official portrait painters for the Queensland Government. He won national acclaim in Australia for his portrait of Wayne Goss, the then premier of Queensland. This was the first official painting of the very popular State leader. In 1994 he received an Australia Day Medal, for his community cultural achievements. In 1993 he had a portrait hung with the finalists of the Doug Moran portrait prize (then the world’s richest). He was commissioned to paint the portrait of Barbara Stanwyck for the very popular TV mini-series of The Thorn Birds.

In the US, circumstances have curtailed his ability to acquire commissions other than for pets, so he has turned to his other love, landscape. Bruce has had some accolades here as well. While living in Drakes Branch, Bruce won first prize for best paintings at the Heart of Virginia on the one occasion he entered. In 2007, he was one of three artists featured in an American Artist Magazine article about unusual ways to use acrylic paint.

While comfortable working in both oils and acrylics, Bruce uses acrylics more frequently because of the sensitivity he has developed vis-a-vis the chemicals frequently used with oils. He is also very comfortable in drawing with charcoals, graphite pencil, and pen and ink. Bruce also works in water color, egg tempera, encaustics, and etched print making.

Bruce began painting en plein aire but, as a red head in India and Australia, suffered sun burn and sun stroke and so turned to painting from his own photographs. “I found that using photographs, I could depict more immediacy and life in my paintings. One can’t just faithfully copy photographs, for they are only a mechanical image. On the other hand, we observe far more acutely, having cognitively processed what we see. The trick is to use the photograph as a tool, and reproduce it using the reality we see. Learning to do this is a daily process of observation, learning and trial and error. At its best, a painting can be a celebratory salute to the amazing reality of light that we often take for granted.”

Since the great recession, Bruce has had to devote much of his time to employment in retail, and is now making a renewed effort to share his work with the public. His work is in private collections inworks India, Australia, the UK, and across the US, and a few public collections in Australia, including a handmade book of etchings in the Queensland National Library’s rare books collection.

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