Jack Bryan's love of art began as a young boy during extended family vacations to Japan in the mid-1950s. There he was inspired by Japanese artists who worked in ceramics, woodblock printing, and woodworking.
During his high school years he explored Oklahoma with adventures to Otter Creek in Tillman County, the Red River south of Tipton and Elmer, Quartz Mountain, and the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge near his current home in Lawton. These experiences helped him develop a love of nature and understand the magnetic power of landscape. The works included in this exhibit, titled Fingers and Brushes: Improvisational Landscapes, express Bryan's continued adoration of nature and the process of creating.
Bryan's style of painting exemplifies many of the characteristics of the Expressionism style of art. The movement originated in Germany in the early 20th century and followers focused on capturing vivid emotional reactions rather than physical reality through powerful colors and dynamic compositions. Some examples of Expressionist painters include Paul Klee, Mark Chagall, and Vincent van Gogh. Like the Expressionists, Bryan strives to make art that reveals a personal and expressive touch.
Bryan begins each painting not by using a paintbrush, but as many young children first experience painting, he finger-paints. Through the use of his hands, fingers, and rags, he manipulates the paint that has been squeezed from the tube directly onto the painting surface to achieve what he calls the "first state" of the painting. Some artists call this first stage "under painting." While the paint is still wet, Bryan thins out some areas, outlines other areas, and creates patterns by scratching with his fingernails or blotting or wiping with rags. These changes to the surface create the structural foundation for the painting.
Using skilled brushwork, Bryan completes the final steps of the work. A complete painting may take as many as a dozen sessions of the artist's hand. Bryan says he decides a work is complete when he feels he has accomplished an "inherent sense of dynamic tension and resolution."
He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1965 from the University of Oklahoma and completed a Master of Art History degree at the University of Tulsa in 1967. His principal university mentors were Eugene Bavinger, Alexandre Hogue, and Montee Hoke.
Bryan founded the Department of Art at Cameron University in Lawton in 1967 and served as chair of the department for 30 years. During a sabbatical from teaching, he had the opportunity to study with painter and University of Oklahoma Professor Emeritus of Art George Bogart. By the time Bryan retired from teaching in 2000, he had taught in all areas of the art curriculum. Since his retirement, he has continued to paint, draw, work in ceramics, and teach workshops to groups that have little or no experience in creative expression.
His artwork has been featured in statewide and regional exhibitions at the Louis Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts in Lubbock, Texas; the Leslie Powell Gallery in Lawton; and, the Eleanor Kirkpatrick Gallery at City Arts Center in Oklahoma City.