About

Bruce Buchanan at Kata Tjuta

About the Artist

I’m a realist landscape painter. My work focuses on natural and man-made landscapes and often a combination of both. I don’t rush into my work but tend to contemplate a subject for some time, often days, before mixing paint. Sometimes it takes me ages to find the right subject – or at least the right way to interpret it.
There are recurring themes which never fail to interest me:

Structure - Industrial and Urban Landscapes

Having been an architect for most of my working life, I am naturally attracted to the structure, form, perspective, scale and detail of buildings.
The combination of man-made structures with natural landscape features in a lot of my work, as do “slices” and details of walls, windows, brickwork and plumbing, where they contribute to a dynamic and memorable image. The way glass reflects the light, the sky and other objects, makes it a compelling material worthy of infinite interpretation. Usually the reflected elements are not in the field of view.
I am unlikely to paint iconic landmarks, preferring modest workaday buildings than can be seen in a different light. Industrial buildings, sheds, grain silos and structures also feature, often for their sculptural qualities which often turn into studies of form and shadow - the way the light turns into shadow on cylindrical surfaces for instance.
Backlighting can be exploited to provide a different understanding of structure and this is probably illustrated in my woolshed paintings. I’m not really interested in painting the whole woolshed when a subtle detail can tell a compelling story.
Human figures seldom find their way into my work unless they make a meaningful contribution to the painting. A chair doesn’t necessarily need someone sitting on it to convey its use.

Land, Sea and Sky

I have an enduring interest in our coast, its weather patterns and its maritime history. In recent years my painting journeys have included places such as Moreton Bay, Stradbroke and Moreton Islands, and further afield - Bruny Island, Kangaroo Island and The Coorong.
I think my most satisfactory works have attempted to capture the mood of storms and overcast days along ocean beaches, reed beds of the Lower Lakes and The Coorong, or mist rising from places like Brown Lake Stradbroke.
Mist, fog and rain and what they do to the landscape always fascinates me. Colours and tonal values change, there are no sharp shadows, and things become indistinct or simply dissolve into the atmosphere. Watercolour is a wonderful medium for this because like mist and rain, it flows, dissolves and threatens to surprise.
Many of my paintings have a rural theme arising from my interest in the way people farm the land. The way the landscape slowly changes as you drive across Australia underlines the scale of the place and the unrelenting nature of its climate.

The Outback

My painting trips to the Outback each year are a “given”. It reconnects me with what is unique about this country. I’ve lived outside Australia, visited great places – but there is nothing else like the vastness of our Outback. You can drive all day in your 4WD and hardly make an impression on the map. Some may find the thought of this terrifying but many find it liberating – it is our inheritance.
Many artists have found the extraordinary landscape of the Flinders Ranges inspiring. It puts out a challenge on how to interpret it in other than traditionally picturesque ways. It took some time to come to terms with this and I still see it as “work in progress”.
The Flinders landforms are ancient. The land is extremely dry most of the year but it can also flood - bringing sudden torrents of water down through the gullies to finally end up in the desert or the salt lakes. The evidence of this is everywhere – in rocky Brachina Gorge, in the twisted River Red Gums and the saltbush foothills.
Then there’s the light. Seeing the creeping shadows and changing colours on the ranges at the end of the day reminds me of the flatness of Outback Australia. The effect of light from the setting sun across the flat landscape is astonishing.

Italy

As a full time artist, I think my art is strongly influenced by history and a sense of place. My Italian work to date has derived from the places that I find extraordinary by virtue of their architectural scale, style and detail. These are in urban spaces and the light and the landscape is so unlike Australia’s – a totally different challenge. Light on the canals of Venice and in the medieval street canyons of Siena are irresistible watercolour subjects.

Commissions

I have carried out a number of commissions for corporate clients including Ramsay Health Care Australia, The Brisbane Polo Club, Ipswich Regional Art Gallery, Stanthorpe Art Gallery and Queensland State Treasury Corporation.
I also carry out commissions for private clients.

Exhibitions

Exhibitions include:
  • 2016 Lasting Impressions Gallery, Kenilworth
  • 2015 The Manly Gallery
  • 2014 Lasting Impressions Gallery, Kenilworth
  • 2013 Marks and Gardner Gallery, Tamborine
  • 2012 Lasting Impressions Gallery, Kenilworth
  • 2012 Marks and Gardner Gallery, Tamborine
  • 2010 The Ipswich House – Heritage House portraits by contemporary Queensland artists - group exhibition, Ipswich Art Gallery
  • 2010 Lasting Impressions Gallery, Kenilworth
  • 2009 The Manly Gallery – with artist Pam Walpole
  • 2008 Hill Smith Gallery, Adelaide
  • 2008 Mark and Gardner Gallery, Tamborine
  • 2008 A Brush with Art exhibition, Prairie Hotel, Flinders Ranges, South Australia
  • 2007 Gallipoli Research Foundation group exhibition, Greenslopes Private Hospital, Brisbane
  • 2004 Ipswich Regional Art Gallery
  • 2001 Gallery Newtown
  • 2000 The Manly Gallery
  • 1999 Gallery Newtown
  • 1998 The Manly Gallery
  • 1997 Gallery Newtown

Awards

  • 2013 Best Watercolour, Brisbane Rotary Art Spectacular
  • 2011 Best Watercolour, Brisbane Rotary Art Spectacular
  • 2011 Finalist, Kenilworth Art Prize
  • 2010 Finalist, Tattersall’s Club Art Prize
  • 2009 Landscape Prize, Ipswich Art Awards
  • 2008 Finalist, Fleurieu Biennale, South Australia
  • 2008 Best Watercolour, Rotary Riverside Art Spectacular, Brisbane
  • 2006 Acquisition - Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery
  • 2006 Acquisition - Ipswich Regional Art Gallery
  • 2006 Finalist, Fleurieu Biennale, South Australia
  • 2006 Best Watercolour, Ipswich Art Awards
  • 2006 People’s Choice Award, Ipswich Art Awards
  • 2005 Acquisition - Ipswich Regional Art Gallery
  • 2005 Best Watercolour, Rotary Riverside Art Spectacular, Brisbane
  • 2005 Best Watercolour, Ipswich Art Awards
  • 2004 Wagstaff Piling National Art Prize ($20,000) Rotary Riverside Art Spectacular , Brisbane
Bruce is represented in many private collections, both in Australia and internationally.