Bruce McCombs

Bruce McCombs has a way of turning our ordinary surroundings into spectacular displays and colorful reflections. The artist works from original photographs which he reconstructs to create magnificent new compositions His subjects include urban settings: like NYC and his hometown of Cleveland, architecture, neon signs, planes, trains and vintage automobiles. Bruce McCombs received his BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art and his MFA degree from Tulane University. Most recently, his work has appeared in shows in Norway, Taiwan, Columbia, and the former Yugoslavia, among others. McCombs’s artwork is a part of many important collections including: The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Cleveland Museum of Art, the Library of Congress, Washington D.C. and the National Museum of Fine Arts in Hanoi, Vietnam. McCombs teaches art at Hope College in Michigan, where he has been part of the faculty since 1969. “From a distance, my paintings often appear to be a rendered depiction of a scene, but upon closer viewing, the parts are revealed as abstract pieces, built one layer upon another into realistic images.” -Bruce McCombs Bruce McCombs artist statement "Beginning in the early sixties....(or 60's...) when I was at the Cleveland Institute of Art and later when at Tulane University In New Orleans, I worked primarily in the medium of etching. From 1970 through 1991, I produced approximately 100 large format prints. Their sizes were either 22" x 28" or 24" x 36". Because I had a sabbatical opportunity in 1990 to live in the UK for a period of time, I had to give up etching and find another medium. Since I had a print studio at my home, I had never been at a loss for facilities to etch and print. But, I would not have a print studio available in England. This prompted me to propose a sabbatical leave exploring watercolor painting. My love of photography was influential in developing my watercolor subject matter and style. Perhaps, the patience that I needed to work on etching plates (sometimes 3-5 months in developing) helped me use that same patient approach to watercolor because I develop my paintings with extensive glazing. When I returned to the states, I did a few more etchings, but realized that there was now an opportunity to explore and develop my art with watercolor, in color and in the positive. My etchings were in black & white (not required), and all plates are worked in reverse so the immediacy of watercolor was very satisfying. Subsequently, in 1992, I abandoned etchings altogether and have since worked exclusively in watercolor. The dimensions of the watercolor paintings are similar to my etchings (22" x 28" & 24" x 36") which were a comfortable size. Traveling has been helpful, because I especially enjoy architectural and automotive subjects and they are always available. When I photograph possible subjects, I compose but when I am ready to start a new painting, I rework and cut up the photo. I have used locations from our visits to the UK, Europe, Eastern Europe and many cities in the United States. Although distinctive landmarks turn up in my work, there are universal aspect to the cities and countries we have seen. What amazes me is that everything looks different when I travel because I am really looking and open to new subject matter, points of view and lighting. "

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