It was a happy accident that created what came to be artist Bruce McFarland’s signature style.
McFarland, 68, is a Santa Clarita resident, and photographer and fine artist. He became interested in photography as a child. His mother always had a camera around. On vacations around California and the U.S., “the camera was always very important.”
After graduation from Hart High School, he bought a camera and always had it with him. But he knew photography as a career wasn’t for him.
“I didn’t want people telling me what to do,” he said.
Instead, he opted for a career in the art business, and made a living at his own company hanging art for private clients, museums, galleries, collectors and consultants. He later went on to work as a computer consultant and teacher.
“I learned a lot about art that way,” McFarland said.
It wasn’t until 2010 that he ventured into making money on his photography. McFarland took every photo class at College of the Canyons that he could.
“I wanted to get better,” he said. However, he knew he needed to stand out as a photographer and artist. Drawing on the years of knowledge he’d gained in the art business and as a computer consultant, McFarland started manipulating his photos digitally, making them look like pastel drawings and paintings.
“Even though I did a really good job of it, it was still something other people were doing,” he said.
Then, about a year ago, McFarland shot a series of images he now calls “Chinatown Mass Transit,” and took them home to start editing. Typically, he takes about five photos, and merges them together using Adobe Photoshop. Except this time, it didn’t look quite right.
The layered images had created “ghosts” of objects in the scene: one streetlamp became two; cars in motion left trails behind them. McFarland said he was “taken aback” by the image that appeared when he gave Photoshop the command to merge his images.
“I didn’t immediately think that this is going to be my new style,” he said.
But he was intrigued. At first, he tried to figure out what he’d done wrong to get such an image: just a series of small mistakes that happened both when he photographed the images, and when he merged them.
And he’s not the only one drawn to these unusual scenes.
“People are mesmerized by it,” McFarland said. His favorite image, Mezquita MULTIPLE-X, taken at an old mosque in Spain, sold quickly at his most recent show in Ventura.
McFarland said his images represent what life is like.
“I’m trying to capture the life of the space in a different way,” he said.
See more of McFarland’s work on his website, artisticintervention.com