Draw if you can – the artist masters the genre of graphite painting

        After many years of routine painting, Stephen Edgar Bradbury seemed, at this stage in his life, to have become one with his chosen artistic discipline. His art, primarily graphite drawings on yupo (woodless paper from Japan made from polypropylene), has received wide recognition in countries near and far. A personal exhibition of his works will be held at the Center for Spiritual Care until January 28.
       Bradbury said he enjoyed working outdoors and always carried a writing instrument and notepad with him on walks and excursions.
       ”Cameras are great, but they don’t capture as much detail as the human eye can. Most of the work I do is 30-40 minute drawings done on my daily walks or outdoor excursions. I walk around, see things… “That’s when I start drawing. I drew almost every day and walked three to six miles. Just like a musician, you need to practice your scales every day. You need to draw every day to keep up,” Bradbury explains.
        The sketchbook itself is a wonderful thing to hold in your hand. Now I have about 20 sketchbooks. I won’t remove the sketch unless someone wants to buy it. If I take care of quantity, God will take care of quality. “
        Growing up in South Florida, Bradbury briefly attended Cooper Union College in New York City in the 1970s. He studied Chinese calligraphy and painting in Taiwan in the 1980s, then began a career as a literary translator and worked as a literature professor for about 20 years.
        In 2015, Bradbury decided to devote himself full-time to art, so he quit his job and returned to Florida. He settled in Fort White, Florida, where the Ichetucknee River flows, which he called “one of the longest spring rivers in the world and one of the most beautiful parts of this beautiful state,” and a few years later moved to Melrose.
       Although Bradbury occasionally worked in other media, when he returned to the art world he was drawn to graphite and its “rich darkness and silvery transparency that reminded me of black films and moonlit nights.”
       “I didn’t know how to use color,” Bradbury said, adding that although he painted in pastels, he didn’t have enough knowledge about color to paint in oils.
        “All I knew how to do was draw, so I developed some new techniques and turned my weaknesses into strengths,” Bradbury said. These include the use of watercolor graphite, a water-soluble graphite that when mixed with water becomes ink-like.
       Bradbury’s black and white pieces stand out, especially when displayed next to other materials, due to what he calls the “principle of scarcity,” explaining that there isn’t much competition in this unusual medium.
        “Many people think of my graphite paintings as prints or photographs. I seem to have a unique material and perspective,” Bradbury said.
       He uses Chinese brushes and fancy applicators such as rolling pins, napkins, cotton balls, paint sponges, rocks, etc. to create textures on synthetic Yupo paper, which he prefers to standard watercolor paper.
        “If you put something on it, it creates texture. It’s difficult to manage, but can produce amazing results. It doesn’t bend when wet and has the added benefit that you can wipe it off and start over,” Bra DeBerry said. “In Yupo, it’s more like a happy accident.
        Bradbury said the pencil remains the tool of choice for most graphite artists. The black lead of a typical “lead” pencil is not lead at all, but graphite, a form of carbon that was once so rare that in Britain it was the only good source for centuries, and miners were regularly raided for it. they are not “lead”. Don’t smuggle it out.
       Besides graphite pencils, he says, “there are many types of graphite tools, such as graphite powder, graphite rods and graphite putty, the latter of which I use to create intense, dark colors.”
        Bradbury also used a dirty eraser, scissors, cuticle pushers, rulers, triangles and bent metal to create curves, the use of which he said prompted one of his students to say, “It’s just a trick.” Another student asked, “Why don’t you just use the camera?”
        “Clouds are the first thing I fell in love with after my mother – long before the girls. It’s flat here and the clouds are constantly changing. You have to be very fast, they move so fast. They have great shapes. . It was such a joy to watch them. In these hayfields it was only me, there was no one around. It was very peaceful and beautiful.”
        Since 2017, Bradbury’s work has been exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Texas, Illinois, Arizona, Georgia, Colorado, Washington, and New Jersey. He has received two Best of Show awards from the Gainesville Fine Arts Society, first place in shows in Palatka, Florida and Springfield, Indiana, and an Excellence Award in Asheville, North Carolina. Additionally, Bradbury received the 2021 PEN Award for Translated Poetry. for Taiwanese poet and filmmaker Amang’s book, Raised by Wolves: Poems and Conversations.
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Post time: Nov-07-2023