By Danielle Ray, Senior Reporter
There is no doubt that Princeton artist Bruce Dean is inspired by his surroundings.
A 44-year resident of Town, Dean lives on Goodnow Road not too far from Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary, a place that he said, “provides daily inspiration, as does the beautiful rolling landscape. Artists have always found this town inspirational.”
He received the inaugural annual Jean Murphy award in June from the Princeton Arts Society, of which he is a longtime member, for a portrait he painted of Dolly Parton that was included in the “Emerging” exhibit.
“Jean was a wonderful Princeton Arts Society leader who passed away a year ago and this was the first award in her memory,” he said.
Dean has been drawn to art, design and aesthetic since he was a boy.
“As a child our next-door neighbors were an arts family, so I got hooked very young by participating in their artistic projects,” he said.
Dean started taking art classes in high school, took undergraduate classes from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and has continued studying art “formally and informally” at Worcester Art Museum, Worcester Crafts Center, Mount Wachusett Community College, and “many other venues.”
Dean began teaching art in Leominster Public Schools in 1974 and has taught art since, including in Uxbridge for 22 years, and coordinating arts for the school system. During the pandemic he taught drawing and cartooning remotely to Worcester Public Schools transition students ages 18 to 21, as well as with four of his young grandsons, ages five to nine.
Besides painting, Dean is also a talented photographer. He said that while oil paints are one of his favorite mediums, he has been using colored pencils recently for portraiture.
“I often paint on cardboard, finding the texture and tones exceptional,” Dean said. “It is a recycled material, easy to find, and fun to use. I also paint on wood, driftwood, stone, and other found materials as well as canvas.”
He said his art is primarily focused on portraits from sitting models and plein air studies, “outdoors in the elements.”
“Working from life is rewarding and challenging,” Dean said. “Inspiration comes from observation, and I seek out people in their workplace and the human figure. I enjoy painting and learning with other artists as well as solo.”
The discipline of painting and drawing regularly is important to him, and as such Dean said his studies and creations often take hours to complete and may require additional studio time.
“I like to explore an idea through many art works such as waves, cardboard portraits, and leaders,” he said. “My goal is to work simply and direct from observation.”
Some of his paintings are hanging in Prince Cafe on Hubbardston Road, a collaboration between Dean and the owners that has a long history.
“I am honored, Neven and Victor Girgis work hard, offer a delicious menu, and are integral part of the town,” he said. “My work has been in their spaces for decades.”
Dean has had his work exhibited in various galleries and venues in Connecticut and Massachusetts such as the Worcester Jewish Community Center and the Princeton Art Society gallery at the senior center, including solo exhibits and group shows.
He is currently working on a tribute to national leaders portrait series, and “will continue studying with outstanding artists.”
“Experimentation such as working on different materials remains a priority,” Dean said, adding that he paints in Maine most summers.
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Bruce Dean, 44, has been an artist from a very young age. He received the Jean Murphy award in June from the Princeton Arts Society for his Portrait of Dolly Parton, pictured left.
LEFT CREDIT: Danielle Ray