Bruce Mortimer is a great artist whose medium of choice *was* photography. I spoke with him a while back about the fantastic work http://brucemortimer.co.nz/ he was doing. However, he has recently had a change of heart. He’s now creating contemporary masterworks almost the old fashioned way – with pencil and paper http://brucemortimer.com/. I wanted to find out his new direction …
MICHAEL: Bruce, your work was already fantastic and I couldn’t imagine on how you might have improved on it. However, you new and current work is stunning. What’s going on?
BRUCE: Hey Michael. Good to hear from you. I've been really enjoying your articles. Thanks for the interest in my pencil drawings! I'm quite excited about them actually, mainly because it feels like I've found my voice after nearly 20 years. Of course, it was staring me in the face all that time, but I just didn't realise it.
MICHAEL: What do you mean exactly?
BRUCE: I was always good at drawing when I was young, but then I gained a love of photography that was with me for many years and so I just didn't pursue any drawing. I have always liked the sophisticated simplicity of black and white, but I guess I identified that as being something one creates using photography. It hadn't really occurred to me that pencil could achieve the same look, but with much more presence and intrigue as a result of the artistic hand creating it. I was probably getting bored with photography at about the same time as there was an explosion of photographs because of the digital revolution and that led me to want to paint, probably as some sort of egotistical desire to separate myself from all the other camera owners out there!
MICHAEL: Yes, I remember we chatted about that the last time.
BRUCE: Honestly, painting, although fulfilling, never really clicked with me, and I decided in about the middle of last year to try my hand at pencil drawing again and I found that not only could I create what I envisaged, but also that I found the medium simple, therapeutic and massively rewarding and straight away, I felt immensely proud of what I was achieving with it.
MICHAEL: And so, how do you describe or maybe define what you’re doing now?
BRUCE: I would describe it as relatively loose photorealism. I've displayed what I have created on a few occasions since then and the turning point (in terms of making a decision to pursue the pencil work as my main medium) came when I sold a piece that was very special to me, for good money, and to a wonderful couple for their 50th wedding anniversary.
MICHAEL: Wow. That clearly means they really loved that piece and it meant something special to them.
BRUCE: I was visibly emotional for some time straight after that sale, which was the first time I had ever felt like that, despite having sold thousands of fine art photographs and more recently, quite a few paintings. It was in that emotion that I kind of knew I had become an artist, if that makes sense. So for the first time in a while, I knew who I was and what I did, and the decision to do that was suddenly made a lot easier. It's only been a few months now and I've already started to find a following for my work and the sales are happening. It's an exciting time, but of course, also one that has an element of uncertainty in it only because that's the nature of doing what we do. But the uncertainty for me no longer has anything to do with what I'm actually creating. I now believe that it’s beneficial beyond words when others express an interest in them too. And my medium is now allowing me to express myself better.
MICHAEL: It sounds like you feel a bit more soulful about your work.
BRUCE: Suddenly, I find I can choose subject matter only because it moves me and not because I think it might sell, which although is certainly something we should be mindful of, but it shouldn't drive our creative decisions. And now, I can simultaneously revisit my photographs from many years ago, to use as references for creating new work. So in that respect, it's like the pencil drawings have always been in me waiting to be discovered. A bit like a soul mate I suppose.
MICHAEL: Wow, that’s great.
BRUCE: I really feel I have come full circle and ironically, I'm only just starting on my journey again. I guess it's all just a journey and it doesn't matter at what point in that journey you find yourself, as long as the journey is positive, rewarding and an opportunity for growth. For now, I also feel like I am both at the start and the destination, so for the foreseeable future, I see myself very much as a pencil artist.
MICHAEL: Very nice. The “new” work is great!
BRUCE: I really appreciate your interest … and more importantly, keep in touch and keep doing what you're doing.
Also, here’s my first chat with Bruce http://artbookguy.com/bruce-mortimer-the-presence-of-landscapes_452.html.