Sydney Schardt interviews Bob Patricy, professional painter and illustrator.
“Painting from nature is not copying the object; it is realizing one’s sensations.”
~ Paul Cezanne
“Sensations” is a familiar word for Bob Patricy as he describes to me why an event, scene, object, or condition inspires him to replicate it as imagery. It is this awareness of sensations that led Bob to feature Paul Cezanne’s quote (above) on his home page (http://robertpatricystudio.com).
Sydney: You speak of “sensations,” yet I often hear artists speak of “emotions” and emotional responses. Can you talk more about sensations?
Bob: One of the first times I experienced “sensations” captured by an artist was when I visited the Baltimore Museum of Art and saw an original Monet. It was a painting of the Waterloo Bridge in London. Monet’s work has been reproduced so extensively that some of the images have become iconic. As a result, I think there has been loss of impact. So I was surprised when I stood before the original oil painting of Monet’s Waterloo Bridge. I experienced the sensation of seeing a painting dance before my eyes. I rediscovered the formal qualities and possibilities of color. I was re-awakened and experienced a shift of influence; Monet had captured sensations.
Sydney: Do you ever paint outdoors like Monet?
Bob: Not as much as I’d like. I do some watercolor outdoors but mostly as sketches. I’m currently exploring structures and the way light hits them and exploring other outdoor subject matter as well.
Sydney: This sounds like a departure from your work that I’m familiar with, mainly abstracts, though I’ve heard that you’re a great illustrator as well. You seem to focus on several aspects of art simultaneously. How do you manage that?
Bob: My fine art, primarily abstracts of urban landscapes, oil on canvas, is inspired by the representational.
Bob Patricy: Seine (oil on canvas)
Bob Patricy: Chicago (oil on canvas)
And my illustration is also a variation of the representational in the form of caricatures, political cartoons recently commissioned, murals and a children’s book in process.
Bob Patricy: LeRaisin (humorous illustration, oil on canvas)
Sydney: As I see them, your illustration moves toward the humorous and your abstracts move toward the calm and misty. Both non-representational and capturing sensations. I know I’ve enjoyed your humorous illustration mural at The Elevator Brewery in Columbus and recognized your style instantly when I saw it. How did that mural come to be?
Bob: That mural is site-specific, commissioned by the owner of The Elevator Brewery and Draught Haus (formerly The Clock restaurant). He requested a large piece about people enjoying a restaurant. Titled Making a Point, oil on canvas, 7’ wide – it’s a humorous illustration of people eating, networking, even arguing.
Sydney: I’m curious about the numerous avenues of art throughout your life. You’re a professional artist today with major focuses in fine art and illustration. Can you tell me about your history in terms of art?
Bob: It seems I’ve drawn everything in sight from an early age. My father was an excellent drafter/engineer and what he created on paper seemed like near-magic to me as a boy. Before starting school, I was drawing the pictures in Golden Books, even though I couldn’t read the stories. I progressed from drawing Saturday morning cartoons and to drawing battle scenes as a young boy.
I graduated from OSU with a BFA in Painting and Drawing in 1991. I was graphic designer, including environmental graphics, at NBBJ architecture firm before going solo. I’ve also taught art at a juvenile detention center in Lake County and I currently teach beginning and intermediate level drawing at Sanctuary for The Arts.
Sydney: You became a self-employed professional artist a few years ago when it might have been easier in that economy. Can you tell me what keeps you motivated in this recession?
Bob: It’s always a challenge to sell original art so a recession is not that different. I find that I’m looking into getting more out of one image, such as prints and digital reproductions from one original. I find I have to be my own business person. I have to think of additional means to market. I wrote a business plan recently (at my wife’s suggestion) and I have an action list. As part of the plan, I designated Friday’s to focus on marketing. I’ve imposed more structure into my week which allows for more uninterrupted painting time.
Sydney: Some might say you have the ideal job. Is there anything you would add or change?
Bob: Yes, more selling of course. And I’d like to be commissioned for travel painting. Currently photography is the typical medium for travel images, but I think painting presents a unique sensation for cultural imagery.
I’ve also experimented with digital art and digital photo painting – collage and mural. Here are a few of those images:
Bob Patricy: Downtown from Oak St (digital art)
Bob Patricy: Quebec (digital painting)
Bob Patricy: Metropolitan (collage)
The following is digital art as a result of manipulating a sample image photographed from the movie “Body and Soul” (1947) director Robert Rossen, cinematographer James Wong Howe and writer Abraham Polonsky. I like the motion and intensity of the punch exemplified by the contrasting colors and exploding pixels. It would make a great mural for a gymnasium or sports arena.
Bob Patricy: Boxer (digital art)
Sydney: Would you call this experimentation “play”?
Bob: Definitely, play and discovery. I have numerous images that are “hard-drived,” awaiting a creative force, so to speak, to determine their use.
Sydney: Speaking of creativity, I know from working with you at Sanctuary for The Arts that you have a broad-brush view of creativity. Would you mind talking about that?
Bob: I believe creativity is a combination of talent and disposition. I think it’s a part of the human psyche and spirit. The drive to create is there in every human, if we listen to it. The desire to make a picture, write a poem, cook a meal is present but depends on the human disposition to manifest it.
If you’re human, you’re creative. And you may be disposed to work with images or words or physical objects. I think those who say they aren’t creative either don’t know what it is or they don’t realize that they do it. Artists are not the only creative people.
Sydney: And what about the creative process?
Bob: My own creative process is cyclical. It’s like climbing a mountain. The climb up is the research phase, consumed with observations, play, discovery. Then reaching the top is like eureka! The project comes together and I begin producing, producing, producing until I’m done. Then I find myself in the quiet valley, spent, and I begin to play and discover again. This cycle has repeated itself throughout my life. It helps to know this is how it works with me.
Sydney: These cycles have produced some incredible work. I understand you have a piece in a traveling exhibit?
Bob: Yes, I have a painting in Paraguay currently, as part of an exhibit traveling to several countries. My painting of St. Francis of Assisi was selected by the Aeonlogic Gallery in New York for this traveling exhibit based on a leadership theme.
Sydney: Where can we view your work closer to home?
Bob: I’m represented by the Black Walnut Gallery in Chicago and at Art Access in Bexley. And my website is http://robertpatricystudio.com.
Sydney: Thanks for your time and conversation, Bob. We look forward to hearing more about your work and exhibits.