A Lifetime of Learning, Teaching
Whether he has been the student or the one imparting knowledge to others, learning has shaped CA Bruce Greene’s life from his youngest days. As early as age eight, he was taking formal classes at the Museum of Art in Dallas not far from where he grew up. There, with his family’s support, he began to cultivate his fledgling talent until he was 12 years old.
“I had the greatest instructor who had us painting plein air from life,” he remembers.
For Greene, that was only the beginning of an education that would span decades. In college, he earned his bachelor of fine arts from the University of Texas with a focus on sculpture and painting. He painted professionally right out of college, participating in small shows initially.
“I had a wife, a kid, a car and a house,” he says. “I was trying to make something happen.”
He taught art classes and held other jobs to supplement his income while painting during his free time. In 1986, he stumbled upon the Cowboy Artists of America Mentoring Program at what is now the Museum of Western Art in Kerrville, Texas. For several years, he took part in every available workshop in an effort to fine-tune his skills and expand his repertoire.
“I probably studied with every CA willing to teach during that time,” he says. “I made a lot of good friends with my fellow students and the CAs.”
Through those years, Greene remained amazed to be studying under such great artists with such strong history. He would take their advice to heart and try to use their feedback to improve his skills. Fritz White in particular had a tremendous impact on Greene’s sculpture.
“You would think you had something finished and he would come and twist it in half,” he laughs. “If you could take it, you could do something with it.”
Greene credits White, Bill Moyers and many other CAs with helping him achieve a successful career as an artist. Greene was inducted into the CAA in 1993, seven years after taking his first CAA mentoring workshop.
“I don’t think I would be where I am today without those seminars,” he says. “During one two-week period, I learned more than I had in the four years it took to get my degree.”
That is why Greene is so excited about the revived CAA Mentoring Program, which aims to help struggling artists with fundamentals in traditional western art. He is teaching a workshop at its first event in April at the Scottsdale Artists’ School in Arizona. He is equally thrilled about the new Joe Beeler Cowboy Artist Foundation that provides scholarships to attendees with financial need.
While many CAA members have mentored on their own for years, “We are pulling it together and putting a label on it,” says Greene.
For Greene, going from a mentee to a mentor is a natural progression. He even mentors one of his horse handlers who also is an art student. “He helps me move a horse so I can look at its muscling and what it does in certain positions,” he says. “Then I translate that information into an active scene.”
Greene still enjoys painting plen air, which he often does on his working Texas ranch. He uses his cowboy pals as models and paints from life.
“A lot of artists have historical saddles and Indian artifacts,” he says. “Mine is the stuff we go out and use every day. My cowboys are contemporary cowboys.”
He is content in his role documenting the modern working cowboy through his art, and he is eager to participate in the mentoring program that will help teach the next generation of Western artists to do the same.
Photo courtesy of Ross Hecox of Western Horseman Magazine.
~written by Julie Wilson, JFW Communications