Jim Bruce has painted most of his life. He started art lessons in Ardmore, Oklahoma when he was fourteen, studying with Faye Burnett Baker, a prominent local artist. But the real love for art started a year or so later when he took a summer workshop from noted Oklahoma artist, the late Richard V. Goetz. Becoming a lifelong friend and mentor, Goetz instilled in Jim a love for still life painting and color harmony. “Dick taught me basically how to see – how to see color and the beauty of putting objects together in harmony and design to create the overall mood I wanted to achieve. The focus on ‘painting what you see’ which Dick engendered has always set the creative tone for me.”
Art has always been important for “nourishing the soul”. With a focus on developing his own style, Jim has also studied with a number of nationally recognized artists besides Goetz, including the late Henry Hensche, Scott Christensen, Kevin Macpherson, David Leffel, Sherrie McGraw and other noted artists. He has also focused his development on the study of the art of many famous American landscape and still life artists.
“I’ve learned so much from all of these fine artists. At the same time, I am influenced by the great American tonalist painters, such as George Inness, John Fabian Carlson and Birge Harrison and so many more. The harmony, subtle color and value range and poetic expression of tonalist paintings are qualities for which I have strived ever since seeing the Tonalism exhibition organized by Grand Central Art Galleries of New York in 1982. The painting Landscape with Avenue of Trees by Eduard Steichen in that exhibition has been a significant influence. For me, the challenge of painting is to set the mood of the scene through close values, color, temperature, form and edges, all working together in harmony to convey that mood to the observer.”
Bruce has won a number of awards, including:
- 1990 First Place in Oils for his still life “The Tribute Horse”, Oklahoma Art Guild Regional Exhibition.
- 1991 Third Place in Oils, Oklahoma Art Guild Regional Exhibition.
- 1996 Best of Show for his still life, “Three Sisters”, Oklahoma Art Guild Members’ Exhibition.
- 1998 Selection as the guest artist for the Plein Air Painters of America’s 13th Annual Santa Catalina Island Show and Sale.
- 1998 Award of Merit for his landscape “Wyoming Grandeur” in the Scottsdale Artists’ School Juried Exhibition, “The Brightest and the Best”.
- 2002 Equal Merit for his landscape “Lake Marie” and Honorable Mention Awards for his still life “Darlin Clementines” in the Oklahoma Art Guild’s National Exhibition.
- 2010 one of the Top 100 in PaintAmerica’s competition “Paint the Parks”
In 2006, Bruce was awarded one of the prestigious Governor’s Arts Award by Governor Brad Henry. A retrospective of 25 of his paintings entitled: “A Painter’s Journey – Learning how to paint what you see” was held in the Governor’s Gallery at the State Capitol from October to December 2006. In addition, Bruce participated in the Gilcrease Museum “American Art in Miniature” exhibitions held in Tulsa, Oklahoma for several years as well as in several Oil Painters of America national exhibitions. In 2009, Bruce was one of the jurors for PaintAmerica’s competition. In 2011, he was commission to paint a large landscape painting for the new Oklahoma Judicial Center. His 48” x 96” landscape painting, “The Lake”, now has its home in the Oklahoma Judicial Center’s art collection. He was also commissioned to paint a large still life to honor Justice Marian P. Opala.
Bruce is a signature member of Oil Painters of America and serves on its Board of Directors. He is a non-resident artist member of the prestigious Salmagundi Club of New York – one of the oldest art clubs in America and he is also a signature member of the Oklahoma Society of Impressionists. The Howell Gallery of Oklahoma City represents his paintings.
In his business life, Bruce is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, American Bank Systems, Inc., a bank service company located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Bruce is a native Oklahoman. He is a member of the Boards of Directors of American Bank & Trust Company of Tulsa and InvesTrust Company, NA of Oklahoma City. He also serves on the Board of Visitors for the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts, as well as the Executive Boards of Oklahoma City University’s Meinders School of Business Administration and the Wanda L. Bass School of Music. He is a former President and a member of the Board of Directors of Canterbury Choral Society of Oklahoma City. He is a former member of the Board of Trustees of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary and the Texas Presbyterian Foundation. He resides in Oklahoma City with his wife, Betty. They have two sons, James W. Bruce, III of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and John C. Bruce of Chicago, Illinois.