American Art Collector Magazine
J. Clayton Bright remembers the exact moment his creative energies took over and his career focus switched from working as a stockbroker to become a full-time artist.
“1976” says Bright. “I inherit from my mother a bronze bull by Rosa Bonheur and I was fascinated with that sculpture. One day, I saw a cow in a field and it for some reason reminded me of that bowl and I instinctively knew that I had to do a sculpture of it, even though I had never done one before.
So, Bright visited an artist friend and after an afternoon-long sculpture tutorial he was on his way. He came back for a quick lesson on casting the piece and then returned a third time for pricing advice when a collector fell in love with the bronze cow.
“I realized at the time that I really enjoyed the process and it was a nice change from the physical activity of brokering orders,” says Bright. “I gave myself three to five years to make a living doing art or to get a job, and I’m happy to say that I haven’t had a job since 1976.”
Once making art full time, Bright decided he wanted to work with oil paintings as well. So, he took a class at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from the legendary instructor Arthur De Costa.
“When working on a painting or sculpture, I approach both of them in the same way,” explains Bright. “Something usually clicks and I immediately know if it will work as a painting or a sculpture. There is never any cross between the two. I do feel like I have more freedom as a painter because of the issue of color. Everything I create is an illusion but there is definitely more freedom when working with oils.”
When painting, Bright is typically inspired by light or composition. When it comes to sculpture, inspiration comes from gesture.
“What usually happens is in a sculpture for me it that I see something, a movement or a gesture, which to me is characteristic of that person or animal and I want to capture that particular split second when it happens,” says Bright. “I think you can say everything there is to say about someone or something through a specific gesture or body language.”