Rob Dreyer, St. Louis, Mo Member Since September 2010 Artist Statement A lifelong artist, I began painting professionally in 1994. While I have formally studied art, taking figure drawing and related courses at St. Louis University, the New School of Design in New York, and in various workshops through the years, my three degrees are in social work, urban studies and law. I began as a muralist. Not necessarily by choice, but because those that knew me and my artwork, kept asking me, and I enjoyed doing them on the side. I am fortunate and honored that so many people like, or are impressed with, my work. What started innocently enough, began the commissions for well over a hundred murals in private residences, government buildings and churches. It was an excellent training ground for a guy who thought of himself more as a sculptor than a painter. Murals forced me to work quickly, in large freehand scale and become very inventive with color and technique. For the next 10 years or so, I did just that, drawing everything with sweeping free hand drawing and developed my paintings with layers of color, building depth and dimension with each pass. I have always been a representational artist, and focused always on depicting my scenes and subjects with a high degree of accuracy, regardless of the constraints of time or budget I was put under. The pineapple below, in acrylic, is one example from my mural days.
The final result was the development of a number of painting techniques and skills which caused me to wonder how they would translate to a smaller canvas with the added flexibility and luminousity of oils, and the grand luxury of the studio.
I now focus almost exclusively on portraiture of individuals and wildlife.
I started doing portraits for the sheer challenge of it. Properly capturing and relaying both the likeness and inherent nature of an individual or animal is quite difficult to do well. I consider every painting an opportunity to improve and expand on the artistry and skill of the painting before.
Other than for skill development, I don't often do landscapes or still lifes. I like "animate" lifes. Portraits of living, breathing and uniquely created people and animals is challenging, difficult, and when done correctly, immensely rewarding. Portraits (human or wildlife) now represents about 95% of all I do.
I approach my portraiture with a singular focus on the subject. My studies of the bluecrab and oyster in the gallery (and even the pineapple on this page) are focused on a stark portrayal of simple beauty, realized by the focus of truly studyng a thing in detail. Unlike some artistic approaches, I am rarely interested in dramatically changing, with color or otherwise, the beauty in the subject - I am interested in capturing and relaying the qualities already inherent in the subject. I see myself as a conduit not a filter, striving to identify what is important and communicating it - without twisting it in a way that suits only my preferences along the way.
I also strive to make each painting inherently beautiful in and of itself. I believe that the pure craftsmanship inherent in a hand-done oil painting should be a thing of beauty in and of itself. The "art" is every bit as much in the physical creation, as it is in the handling of the subject matter. When technique and medium come together under the hand of an artisan, the painting itself should be like a fine piece of furniture.
The quality of any painting is always dependent upon the myriad of incremental decision made while producing it. Because proper decision-making relies fundamentally on knowledge, knowledge is one of the most treasured tools in my studio. Art is no different than any other discipline in that it requires constant learning and practice. If you do it for a hobby, than have fun and relax with it. If you do it professionally, than I believe it requires you to work hard at it - just like anything else. As with every professional, this is a continuing and lifelong endeavor. I continue to seek