In this week's interview we were lucky enough to sit down with the extremely accomplished realist painter Robert C. Jackson, whose images we are delighted to feature on LittleCollector (Jeff Koons, what do you think?) and whose balloon animal adventures always keep up on our toes.
Learn more about Robert's work and many gallery shows here.
LC: Your path to becoming an artist was certainly non-traditional. How did your earlier careers inform what you do now as a professional painter?
RJ: I didn't go to art school. Actually I didn't take any painting until the last semester in my senior year in college as a throw away elective - you know, one of those "easy A" courses. Little did I know that the painting 101 class would become my favorite class of all 4 years. I graduated and worked for 5 years as an electrical engineer designing radio systems but painted at night. At the end of those 5 years I decided I was going to quit and become an artist, suggested the idea to my church pastor and he asked if I would quit, but to come work for the church instead. I did that for 6 years and once again decided to quit to be a painter - and no one came up with alternative suggestions this time. As for how these careers shaped me as a painter - I suppose we are the sum of our parts... all of those made me who I am, and inevitably who I am ends up on canvas. None of it is really purposefully done - to quote Popeye "I yam what I yam."
LC: Your work comes out of the highly technical still life tradition yet is extremely playful in subject matter. Does this reflect two sides of your own personality?
RJ: I really enjoy well crafted work. But well crafted work without a good concept behind it leaves me quite bored. I do live in the 21st century, am part of a pop culture, so that becomes part of my artwork. When it comes to my personality, I guess I am pretty serious but am always game for laughing at myself.
LC: Do you stage your own scenarios in the studio? Describe for us your working process.
RJ: Believe it or not, I do set everything up and I do tie the balloon dogs. I'm a pretty disciplined painter... working from about 7:30-6 M-F. I work conceptually, so I keep a sketchbook that is full of ideas rather than fully rendered drawings. I am always thinking ahead so that when I am finished one painting I am ready to go right on to the next one. I usually draw directly on the canvas from the observed set up. I seal that in acrylic and paint the actual painting in oils.
LC: The blue balloon is extremely adventurous. Where does he come up with his schemes?
RJ: Ha - pretty good question. With that sketchbook I have I will go out for an hour or so at a time to simply brainstorm. I'll bring art books, picture books, or even a thesaurus and just jot down whatever ideas I might have. Not all of them end up working but some get to become realized on canvas. The blue balloon is usually doing whatever he can to impress the pink one. I love the idea that he will go to any extreme to find love.
LC: We've got to know, will the blue balloon ever succeed in winning the affections of the pink balloon?! We're pulling for them!