The covers of Bruce's CD's, and their subsequent titles, are from Bruce's original paintings. Unlike his music, which has been part of his life since he was a boy, painting came to Bruce later in life. He had long expressed a desire to paint, so for his birthday one year I arranged for him to spend a weekend at Lynn Connell's wonderful art centre in Dunedin, Ontario. Bruce admired Lynn as an artist. A weekend under her guidance revealed her to be a gifted teacher as well.
When I saw Bruce's first few paintings I was simply stunned. When you have lived with another person for a long time, you tend to assume you know them pretty well. But nothing that I knew about Bruce prepared me for what he put down on the blank canvas. It was a humbling lesson on the complexity and richness within the hidden recesses of our being. When I turned to Bruce in astonishment and said to him, "Where did all this come from?" he looked equally perplexed and responded, "I have no idea."
Some artist's look at things in life and try and re create, with varying success, that which they observe. Bruce does some of this work. But mostly what he is trying to do is have the canvas draw something out from inside him to be placed on the canvas as a visual of something which already exists but cannot be seen. He paints in a state of surprise, not knowing what will speak through the brush. I am supposing it is not unlike his jazz playing, wherein you never quite know what will happen next. CJ
"When I close my eyes, I see things. When I sit in silence I hear things. And the things I see and hear are, to me, important to express. I feel lonely with them. But when someone else sees or hears what I’ve done to try and represent my imaginings, then this person has connected with me at a deeper level than simple conversation. In this way, art of all kinds connects us one to the other.
My paintings emerge from the canvas as I try to discover what I have seen. The viewer, of course, may see something entirely different. So there is a kind of conversation going on between the painter, the painting and the viewer, which is both constant and always changing.
It is an improbable conversation, and yet, there it is."
Bruce Ley, Interview 2011.