In a studio in the Penn State School of Visual Arts, Ray Brune is constantly experimenting and working on his style. Brune specializes in abstract art, with bold colors, large canvasses and precision work that gives his work a recognizable visual impact.
For example, one of Brune’s (sophomore-drawing and painting) works can be taken as an optical illusion. Complementary colors and deliberate angles engage viewers through the painting’s unique visual language.
The lines guide viewers toward no specific subject matter. Rather, the painting itself and viewer interactions transform into the subject matter.
He said inspiration for his work comes from within, rather than from outside references.
“I have an inner desire to create and think painting is the purest way to exercise that,” Brune said. “I have no interest in painting the figure. I am more focused on abstract painting — nonrepresentational art.”
Although he started drawing at a young age, Brune became seriously interested in paintings and painters in high school.
“I dabbled in art making and painting, and it was the only thing I cared about putting work in,” Brune said. “I always maintained that interest in art.”
Brune’s mother , Lisa Burkhart, said she noticed his artistic interest emerge in high school, as well.
“He told his brother at one time that he was thinking of taking art,” Burkhart said. Brune’s older brother had also wanted to be an artist.
Although Burkhart knows about his artistic pursuits, she hasn’t seen his recent work.
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“I saw him draw faces, people. I never saw anything abstract,” she said.
In addition to being an artist, Brune is also a veteran. He served in the Navy as a second-class petty officer after enlisting. Brune was discharged in December 2016.
“I decided to join the military because I wanted to see more of the world and that was an easy way for me to do that,” Brune said.
One of his closest childhood friends, Owen Craig , also decided to join the Armed Forces. Craig serves in the Marine Corps and has known Brune since 2005.
“Ray definitely indulges himself in what he wants to be good at,” Craig said, adding Brune’s work ethic has contributed to both his success in the military and at Penn State.
The military, Brune said, didn’t influence him artistically. Brune said he has always been talented and motivated to pursue his passion.
“Ray has always had a crazy artistic ability. And that’s just not the painting — it’s like all around. He just lives the lifestyle,” Craig said. He described visiting Brune’s college apartment which also acts as a studio as part of his “lifestyle;” Brune is completely submerged in what he studies.
Craig, like Brune’s mother, has yet to see his friend’s artwork.
“Ray won’t show it to me,” Craig said, adding he is excited to see it.
Brune will be applying for the bachelors of fine arts program within the School of Visual Arts at the end of this semester.