Robert Rhodes lives and works in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. His abstract paintings are both expressive and colourful and often reflect his appreciation of the landscape. Created using heavy layers of oil paint, Robert’s paintings embody a deep sense of poetry and contemplation. The thick oil paint becomes part of the painting’s identity and the luscious impasto gives a sculptural quality to his work.
In this Q&A Robert talks about Inspiration and what first inspired him to paint, how inspiration informs his work now and offers advice on how artists can make the most of inspiration.
What first inspired you to paint? Is there a particular painting, Artist or movement that inspired you the most?
I began painting when I was 12. For reasons I don’t entirely recall, I started with the very Old World egg-tempera medium, doing very realistic landscapes of the place where I lived, the flatlands of the Mississippi River delta of Northeast Arkansas. It was something I just began doing. It seemed very natural. The only person who taught me at first was my mother, a classical pianist who also happened to be a very gifted draftsman. I still have drawings she did of my friends and me in my childhood. I remember being drawn to painters such as the old masters, as well as to others such as NC Wyeth and Howard Pyle, and to Thomas Hart Benton.
What are your thoughts on inspiration and how does it influence your work? Is inspiration essential to paint or start a painting?
To me, what people call inspiration is something of an illusion, and perhaps even a delusion — as if waiting for lightning to strike were a meaningful way to get anything done. My pictures are very emotional statements, and are guided, I think, by a progression of impulses that show me the way.
If these impulses I experience are to guide me effectively, I find it best to be open and willing to accept them. And the best way to do this is to keep working and listening, and to have a daily practice that makes it possible to see where these impulses lead. I can’t imagine a better way to spend what time I have left to me in this world.