During the Pandemic: A Conversation with Del-Bourree Bach, CM

Written by: Francesca Sinnott
 
Pictured: Del-Bourree Bach, CM
 
Del-Bourree Bach is a contemporary realist painter who has made a living entirely from his art for the past 40 years. He recognizes this accomplishment as “rare” because it takes “not only talent but also tremendous discipline” to achieve. Del has been a Copley Member since 2010, receiving Copley Master status in 2019.  He credits Co|So for providing him with a distinguished platform to show his work in the Boston area.
 
The forced isolation of the pandemic has not affected Del’s work much because he paints exclusively in his studio.  However, a “downside” is that a lot of the juried competitions he was supposed to be in were either “postponed or just put on-line”.  One positive of going on-line is that it has given artists “more freedom to enter paintings that have already been sold or that do not meet the size restrictions established in a live gallery show”. As the solo judge in a recent Spring 2020 On-Line International Competition of the National Oil and Acrylic Painter’s Society, Del judged paintings ranging in size from 6”x6” to 70”x110”. Del describes it as a big “challenge to view and to compare images on-line for good draftsmanship, composition, color, design and realism”. 
 
During the pandemic, Del has also submitted his own entries to major competitions where he won awards. His painting, “The Old Beach Cottage” won at The National Oil and Acrylic Painters Best of America 2020 Exhibition.  
 
Pictured: The Old Beach Cottage, acrylic on panel, 10.5”x 15”
 
His painting “Nat” won an “Excellence in Acrylic” award at the 2020 Academic Artists’ Association 70th Annual Exhibition. This painting is based on a sketch of a friend (now deceased) made years ago, who has been a subject in several of his paintings.
 
Pictured: Nat, acrylic on panel, 12” x 7”
 
Del was also named Amica Artist of the Year for painting “Autumn Graze”.  It was purchased for the corporate art collection and will be used on the cover of Amica’s 50th Annual Thanksgiving card.
 
Pictured: Autumn Graze, acrylic on board, 18” x 24”
 
Del has submitted three small works he completed during the pandemic to Co|So’s current Small Works show as well his piece "Feeding Frenzy" that will be featured in Co|So’s Summer Members Show: Summer Reflections.
 
Pictured: Feeding Frenzy, acrylic on board, 15x37"
 
Del describes how when he paints he taps in to his background as an illustrator, adding his own realism to a scene. In the studio, “I never replicate what I see in a photo as it does not capture the atmosphere of the moment. There are also details that I may add or remove myself using memory and imagination”. Sometimes I will “elevate the ordinary things”, such as a "telephone pole or turn daytime in to night”. “I always like to add “a suggestion of life” in my paintings, such as “a light in a window, a boat with someone in it or fauna from the environment”. I want people to derive “peacefulness and tranquility from my paintings”. Perhaps they conjure a memory of a place or a moment. I love the beauty of nature and man’s relation to it. Sometimes “there is beauty” even in the texture of “ugly things”.
 
Del cites the “three D’s“ as the keys to his own personal success: “desire, discipline and deadlines”. “Each day I do something towards the accomplishment of my art: preparing for a painting, talking to galleries, going to receptions, working towards the next competition or exhibition”. Del has a great respect for the gallery system and the way in which it has helped him connect with artists and collectors. “I am grateful to also be giving back as a: jurist, board member of several non-profits, auctioneer and also to charities with proceeds from painting sales”. 
 
Del admits it was not a straight path to success. In 1972 he studied at the University of Hartford (art) and the Hartt School of Music (voice) and then later received a scholarship to continue voice studies at the Manhattan School of Music (1984). During the 1970’s when I was studying art, “the training emphasis was on minimalism and conceptualism”. I defied that convention and focused on realism. To that end, Del illustrated for the university publication (Hog River Review), where he developed his abilities in drawing, composition and use of color. He did not think then that he wanted to be an illustrator. Instead he wanted to become a professional singer.  At the age of 19, he would move to New York City to sing with the repertory company of the Light Opera of Manhattan (LOOM) and then later with The Gilbert and Sullivan Players (NYGASP).  His favorite roles included: the Pirate King in the “Pirates of Penzance”, and Wilfred in “The Yeoman of the Guard”. At this time, Del also built his portfolio with drawing classes at the Art Students League and The School of Visual Arts. 
 
Del found he could earn a living from both illustrating and performing.  Over the next 20 years, Del would perform and also illustrate for: the New York Times, novelist Isaac Asimov and the publishing houses McGraw Hill and E.P. Dutton.  His illustrations included a lot of “stipple work” that was “painstaking and precise”. He also worked with pen and ink, watercolor, pastels and naturally transitioned to acrylics. He came to enjoy working with acrylics because of their fast drying time and versatility.
 
At a certain point Del realized he preferred to paint for himself and not create “images that other people wanted’ and this marked the start of his productive career as a realist painter. He has been influenced by painters Andrew Wyeth and Albrecht Dürer. His advice to young artists is “find your own voice”. Because I was self-taught, I also developed my own style, with no one teacher influencing me. Also, “if you want to earn a living from your art, treat it like a real job”.