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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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Artist, Orville Bulman

Artist, Orville Bulman

GRHC - June 20th, 2012

Orville Bulman, who enjoyed drawing cartoons at an early age, evolved into an excellent and successful artist. His paintings often tell stories, and many depict tropical and exotic settings.



When Orville Bulman was a student at Central High School, in the early 1920s, he delighted his friends with his cartoon page in the Helios. After joining his father in business he continued his cartooning as a hobby.

In 1946 Bulman decided to try painting in oils. He attended Ox-Bow, in Saugatuck, where the Chicago Art Institute conducts Summer Art School.

“When I saw what those artists were doing,” Bulman recalled,  “I realized more than ever that I didn’t know anything about painting. So instead of painting I followed the instructor around for two weeks and listened as he commented and critiqued the works of the other students. I learned more that way than I would have in months in an ordinary class.”

At a one-man show held in Palm Beach, Florida in March of 1952, Bulman exhibited thirty paintings; all were sold the first day of the show. A party, held that evening for a select group of critics and connoisseurs, had no canvases for them to critique or acquire—only the cocktails to enjoy.

Many of Bulman’s scenes, often including people and houses, tell stories; and many depict tropical settings. Greatly attracted to Haiti, he created many canvases illustrating the architecture, the people, and their culture.

His later work, influenced by Henri Rousseau, often features jungles or fantastical settings inhabited by exotic people and wild animals.

Born in 1904, Orville Bulman passed away in January of 1978.

Full Details

TitleArtist, Orville Bulman
KeywordsWYCE; radio; Grand Rapids; Historical Commission, artist, Orville Bulman
Pubdate StringJune 20th, 2012

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