Emerging Artists | George Bodine

Soaring with new wings

George Bodine, The German Girl, oil, 18 x 36.

George Bodine, The German Girl, oil, 18 x 36.

This story was featured in the April 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  April 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

Over a handful of decades, George Bodine has held a string of occupations that most would be hard-pressed to tackle in one lifetime alone. He has worked as a police officer, miner, and cabdriver, and he worked in the oil fields, too. He became a Navy fighter pilot, a Top Gun instructor, and later, a captain at Delta Airlines—“I’m not making this up, and I have documentation,” he jokes. But Bodine has since settled into a very different profession. “Art has made me happier than I’ve ever been,” says Bodine, who today paints full time in his Newport, KY, studio. Landing a plane on a carrier at night was challenging, he says, but painting—painting invites a whole new set of exciting challenges.

Having always loved art, Bodine started drawing and painting earnestly while working for Delta in the mid-1990s. He immersed himself in books about art and visits to art museums, where he’d sometimes spend 45 minutes in front of a single painting, he says, studying its brushwork and composition. A few years ago, Bodine suffered a brain injury in a motorcycle accident that abruptly ended his flying career, and he accepted this fate as an opportunity to paint full time. “I had no idea what a difference it would make to just take a leap,” he says, “and go all out being a professional artist.” Today the entirely self-taught painter has polished his own style, a self-described “painterly realism” that has earned Bodine national recognition and a collector following in the United States and Europe.

For archival quality, Bodine paints on linen and on museum-quality board primed with white lead. His “overriding interest” is the human figure, he says, but he also paints landscapes and cityscapes. Often Bodine portrays figures in scenes inspired by his wife’s family farm and by his travels in Europe, from a couple embracing in the Irish countryside to children meeting on a drizzly day in the Piazza San Marco. Depicting details minimally with an economy of expressive brush strokes, Bodine articulates gripping yet fluid narratives he invites viewers to interpret. “I realized that my story in an image is seldom what others see in it,” he says. “If the painting is powerful enough, they’ll find their own story in it.” —Kim Agricola

representation
T.H. Brennen Fine Art, Scottsdale, AZ; Palm Avenue Fine Art, Sarasota, FL; Waterhouse Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA; Howard/Mandville Gallery, Kirkland, WA.

This story was featured in the April 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  April 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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