Thompson makes mark with Just Muskeg


Bruce Thompson knows a lot about making a good impression and making good impressionism.

The St. Albert painter said his work has evolved into an impressionistic style reminiscent of Vincent van Gogh and Tom Thomson. He has the intention of not creating exact images with fine photographic details. It’s more about how he sees the world; for this show he has set his sights firmly on the boreal bogs that have their own special place in the arena of landscape exhibits. More specifically, they hardly ever get any attention. When was the last time you saw a show on bogs?

Just Muskeg is a pretty apt title for his exhibit at the Studio Gallery’s Perron Street location. Even though Thompson has been all over the world as an environmental scientist, he chose these settings for their subtle beauty.

“I would say that my broader philosophy of art has been to look at the things that occur in the natural world every day around us. What’s hiding in there that we can bring out? I guess I look at slough, muskeg, marsh, whatever, and try and see what that has to offer in the way of colour and shape and textures.”

These aren’t photorealistic representations of fine moss, undergrowth and objects in states of decomposition. They are consistently bold, light, happy — jubilant even.

“I asked that question once and she said, ‘You are pushing the boundaries of realism towards impressionism’. Well, that’s where I like to be, on the edge.

“The other way I could describe it is that I walked into a studio one day with a wet painting, trying not to smudge it. Unfortunately, the wind blew the door and my thumb went right into the sky. I put it down … and said, ‘That is impressionism’. I hate to put a word on it but it’s not intended to be realism.”

This is apparent when you observe how he plays with the colours both on the palette and on the canvas. Maybe it’s more about what is in his mind’s eye than what actually exists. You can still see the forests but they have been abstracted and internalized before they come back out in acrylic.

The marshes bring the senses alive and he wants to expose their textures in ways that brushes can’t always do. This tactile objective means he has to get his hands dirty, and push the paint around with his fingers and even his palms. He’s obviously keen on exploring the edges of things and the bridges between them.

“My art appeals to some people and not to others,” he says. “A lot of the [positive]feedback I’m getting now is about the texture. You get the ridges in the painting.”

Still, Thompson does strive for constant improvement. He’s a student of art and appreciates hearing back from anyone who catches his shows. That’s one of his favourite reasons for attending the openings but he also encourages the public to check out his well produced website at

There you have the opportunity to flip through galleries and provide your own response to his work, just in case you missed him when Just Muskeg had its grand unveiling last week. He obviously knows how much potential for growth he has within him, just like the bogs themselves.

“It helps in my learning process … tremendously. It’s fantastic to get the feedback from people, any form. It doesn’t matter if it’s positive or negative. Art is a growth; it’s a journey.

“That’s really what I’m in it for — to grow with the art, try new things, explore.”


Just Muskeg
Runs until July 31
Studio Gallery
11 Perron St.
Call 780-460-5593 for more information


About Author

Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.