Bruce Lawes describes himself as a perfectionist, and that means getting every last detail right in his paintings, whether it’s a wildlife work, landscape, equine piece, or figurative portrayal. “You just want it to look perfect,” he says. “My paintings start out painterly, and then I keep refining them, without making them look too overworked.”
Though the Canadian native periodically photographs his own subject matter for reference, he has also fostered working relationships with professional wildlife photographers around the world. Among them is naturalist Michael North, whose snapshots of an African elephant inspired the artist’s winning entry. In his painting, Lawes swathed his photorealistic depiction of the magnificent creature in an impressionistic background, a technique Rembrandt himself once used. “What happens is your eye goes to the sharper image, and then it starts to wander around the softer areas,” explains Lawes, who chose the title BATHING IN GLORY to connote the splendor of the scene. “I try to come up with poetic titles that hint at what the story is about,” he adds.
While Lawes strives to create beautiful representations of his wildlife subjects, often the artist is working toward a higher purpose, too. Just recently he completed a painting for the Jane Goodall Institute to help raise funds for the renowned primatologist’s global conservation organization. “I seek out ways to use my talent to bring awareness to causes and to help organizations,” says Lawes. “Being connected with Jane is, to me, being at the top of the heap of helping. Everything she represents is what I strive for.”
Find Lawes’ work at Trailside Galleries in Jackson, WY, and Scottsdale, AZ; Settlers West Galleries, Tucson, AZ; and Westmount Gallery, Toronto, Canada.
This story was featured in the December 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art December 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.
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