by Poki Hampton, photos by Candra George
“MY GRANDMOTHER WAS an amateur artist who colorized black and white photographs with colored pencils. She was also a nature enthusiast,” says cover artist Rebecca Buras. Rebecca’s grandmother would take her through the nearby woodlands near their house and point out different flora and fauna. The appreciation of nature has remained in Rebecca’s soul all these years. “As it turns out, trees are one of my favorite subjects to paint because I appreciate the graceful articulation of each limb and the many colors and textures of the bark and leaves.”
Growing up on the West Bank of the Mississippi River, where her father was a horticulturist who grew vegetable seedlings in his greenhouse, Rebecca spent her Saturday mornings transplanting tomatoes, bell peppers and eggplants into little peat cups. She says, “I sketched everything, from mushrooms growing under trees to a not-so-good portrait of our dog.”
Rebecca saved and bought an art set complete with instructions on how to paint horses. Like a lot of young girls, she was crazy about horses. She begged her mother for a horse, but
the closest she got to a real horse was painting Palominos, Arabians and Buckskins from books checked out of the school library. She says, “That certainly helped out when it came to painting the protuberant musculature of competing polo ponies on this year’s Harvest Cup poster.”
When she became a wife and mother, Rebecca’s painting came to a halt, and she began her 26-year career in the field of surgical nursing. Her passion was working in the busy operating room of Lakeview Regional Medical Center in Covington. She says, “Nursing is such a gratifying and honorable profession; I’m so glad to have accomplished my career goals.”
Rebecca had a dream of getting back to the smell of linseed oil and putting paint on canvas. She heard about local art instructor Gretchen Armbruster, began taking art classes at night, and her artistic spark flared again. “Gretchen rehabilitated my life by giving me the encouragement and confidence to let the creative beast loose from inside me. She encouraged me to paint what I see. Gretchen is a brilliant instructor, and because of her, I now see things with an artist’s eye.”
Because of the rich colors and deep tones, Rebecca prefers to paint in oil—and if she makes a mistake, it is easily corrected. She visits NOMA to get inspiration from painters like John Singer Sargent, looking closely at the brushwork and portraiture style. Her painting has evolved thru the exposure to other artists, art galleries and museums.
“For such a long time, I was fantasizing that one day I would pick up a paintbrush again and fashion something on canvas that would be a personal accomplishment,” says Rebecca. “That day has come with the competition of this year’s Harvest Cup Polo Classic poster. As you can see, the poster was truly in the works for over 30 years. It was lying dormant in my soul for that long. With its unveiling, ‘this too busy for life’ insecure individual can now be proud to call herself an artist.”
Rebecca’s work can be seen at Armbruster Artworks Fine Art Gallery and School at 502 N. Columbia St. in Covington.