Bruce Nellsmith

The artist says, “Picasso once stated that he did not trust pure abstraction to shoulder the burden of meaning.    I don't necessarily agree, yet even when my paintings ebb towards pure abstraction, elements such as the hull of cargo ships, the water, the sky, buildings, containers, bridges, or scaffolding are never wholly sacrificed; abstracted, but still very intelligible. Those elements of nature, or life as I find them, act as the essential impetus or natural force driving the work in its initial stages. I start with nature (a cityscape, a port, or even the memory of a place that I have visited) and then adjust or sometimes almost destroy that objective image in order to resurrect an essentially abstract vocabulary of line, color, and shape capable of carrying the more subjective feelings that I attach to a place or a memory. 

“In regard to refinement, I will consciously avoid movements that seem too polished for fear that the work may appear static. When painting, I find that I cannot accept a movement in the composition that does not contain a certain raw or edgy quality about it. It is this that gives the work a furtive or shifty quality that keeps me engaged.  This working and re-working process gives the paintings an inner life, their own independent histories; they live and I live; it’s a symbiotic relationship. Simply put, my message depends upon the manipulation of paint and the responses that process invoke in me. I find my way into a painting and, as De Kooning put it – ‘I then have to paint my way back out’, even though I feel as if I am never fully released.     

The time I spend in France each year has an undeniable impact on my work. While there, I often produce 35-40 drawings, watercolors, and gouache paintings.  I like to simply plop down on the street in Paris, pull my watercolor kit from my bag, and go to work whenever the scene peaks my interest (needless to say, it’s difficult to travel with me).   These ‘sketches’, I bring back to my studio on Edisto Beach as resources for much larger works in oil.  Once in the studio, the sketches are often abstracted in order to express my memories or feelings for a particular place. No matter where I find myself, I am never without the ability to make a sketch or a color study - it’s the way I interact with the world.” 

Nellsmith received his BFA from the University of Georgia and his MFA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is currently the Visual Arts Program Coordinator and Professor of Art at Newberry College. He has received regional and national recognition in painting and drawing competitions. His work is included in many private, state, and public collections throughout the United States, including Canada and Europe. Bruce maintains studios on Edisto Beach, SC and in Newberry, SC.

Please click any of the images below for a  larger view


Early at the Market

36x24 image  37x25 framed

acrylic  $2375

  Blue City Dream

30x40 image  31x41 framed
  acrylic  $3300

 At the Paris Flower Market

48x24 image  49x25 framed

 acrylic  $3150




 Green City Dream

24x36 image  25x37 framed
   acrylic  $2375 

  Serpentine Dresser

30x24 image  31x25 framed
   oil  $1980


         Feeding the Ducks

24x30 image  25x31 framed

    oil  $1980




Canal in Annecy

24x30 image  25x31 framed
oil  $1980 

Artist’s Wife on Terrace in
Sarlat, France

            24x30 image  25x31 framed

     oil  $1980

 Marches des Enfants Rouges, Paris

       18x24 image  19x25 framed

      acrylic  $1180




 Rooftops and River in

LaRoque Gageac, Dordonge

 12x16 image  13x17 framed

   gouache  $475 

 Square René Viviani, Paris

12x16 image  13x17 framed

  watercolor  $475

 Awaiting the Blessing at Saint Peters
13x15  acrylic


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