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Former Navy SEAL paints his life experiences

July 28, 2014

NEWPORT-A lifetime of being surrounded by art coincides with a career as a Navy Seal and private investigator in the paintings of a Newport artist, David Bruce.
Opening his new studio on Thames Street, Bruce has been impressing people with his paintings based on photographs he has taken himself throughout his job and travels. After a fascinating career, his experience and deep rooted passion for the arts has brought him to produce a series of over 20 paintings that pay tribute to the Interstate and Roadways, focusing on each individual part to allow viewers to experience things they would otherwise overlook in daily life.
“Because I’ve been a private investigator and been on the road, always with a camera in my hand I record a full amount of imagery,” said Bruce. “I’ve been able to take those photos and expand on them and dramatize a scene and experience and location to make it more of an environment that other people might look at a second time, where as when driving they wouldn’t have that opportunity.”
In his paintings Bruce hopes to preserve the scenes and experiences he has seen and add an abstract and mysterious aspect for viewers to get pulled in and feel first-hand. He strives to dramatize what is perceived by the common eye to allow others to interpret his visions in their own way.
“I can look at something, like a bridge and really make a great painting of the iron supports and everything,”said Bruce. “I like taking these things that are somewhat random and really going in and looking at it like what’s holding it up? What makes it a strong and good construction?”
Bruce’s paintings, all based on a picture from his personal collection of photographs taken on military trips, moments conducting surveillance and by coincidence, are rendered in American-made oil paint usually mixed with a Liquin medium. Some of his painting are as large as eight feet by 4 feet, and they all show great contrast through a structural design.
His artistic passion comes from his childhood that Bruce describes as “saturated by art” with two painter parents who met at an art school, and a minor in Fine Art himself from the University of Maryland. After growing up in his mother’s gallery in Cape Cod and visiting galleries and museums along the East Coast he developed a sense of appreciation for fine art.
“I think the inspiration really comes from having an eye and squared artistic eye from my parents studios through assessing paintings,”said Bruce. “I can see the difference in something that is fine art versus something that is just done quickly.”  
This artistic experience has formed Bruce into the artist he is today. According to Bruce, taking time while painting is what helps him to form one perfectly constructed piece.
“I prefer working in the studio rather than painting from life because its sitting in front of me and its not going to move,”said Bruce. “I can go back to it and spend more time trying to create a feeling, that takes more time.”
Unique to Bruce is his energy that he puts into his paintings. Opposed to many artists who paint to relax, his dedication to presenting the right feeling in the right way forces a more anxious energy to come out in his work, making for an intriguing piece.
“Because when I come across the right image and I think its going to get me to a final product, its not simple to me,”said Bruce. “There's the unknown aspect of am I going to be able to develop what’s in the photo?”
A combination of the anxious energy, attention to detail and feeling has allowed Bruce to sell everything he has put in his gallery, as he remains dedicated to presenting fine art to the public. His work has even been accepted in the Newport Art Museum Juried Members Show two years in a row, and sold to collectors from around the country and world. Now, his attention has gone to presenting art to people in Rhode Island.
“Its going to take some hard work but I think we can keep fine art in the windows for visitors and for locals,”said Bruce.
After successfully drawing people in with his work, Bruce now considers his studio officially open and has decided to hold a gathering on July 31 for anyone interested in his paintings.
“I just want to meet a few people and let other people know that I’m painting and I’m serious about it while finding out what other people are doing artistically,”said Bruce. “Its a gathering like hey, my doors are open to drop in any time and we can talk about paintings and fine art.”

If you go
David Bruce Fine Art will host a gathering on July 31 from 7 to 10 p.m. at 664 Thames St., Newport. The artist would like to invite anyone interested in contemporary art, champagne and music to stop by.


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