A VISIT WITH ROBERT MOORE AT HIS STUDIO IN DECLO, ID
Text by Bonnie Gangelhoff, Photos by Jason Lugo
This story was featured in the July 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art July 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
Describe your studio. My studio is an old bean-processing warehouse built in the 1940s with substantial metal and concrete. A large part of the renovation process was removing the bean-cleaning equipment, catwalks, augers, and sorting bins—some were over 80 feet high. There are three separate areas, with more than 10,000 square feet of space. In one area there is a basketball court and weight room. Attached to this is the main work area of my studio and workshop. The studio has 20-foot-high ceilings with seven 7-foot-tall windows that provide wonderful north light. In another adjacent area there is a gallery space and game room with a pool table and Ping-Pong table. Here there is also space for the piano, guitar, and drums, which we enjoy playing at times. I can hang up to 60 paintings in the gallery. These paintings are by artists who inspire me. There are several Russian painters and several paintings by Dan McCaw. I had Dan as a teacher for seven terms at the Art Center College of Design, and I learned how to paint from him and how to teach and treat students. A final area has two levels, with a kitchen, bathroom, and framing room downstairs and an apartment upstairs.
What elements were important to you in designing your studio? It was important to have abundant and natural light in my work area. To teach workshops, I needed the largest space to be open and have adequate ventilation. I wanted a gallery area for my private collection that would also allow for student exhibitions open to the community. Because every artist needs inspiration, I put in an apartment, with a kitchen and a shower, for fellow artists who would be coming from out of state to paint with me. With the abundant space, I was able to put in a basketball court, weight room, and game-room area for my children and their friends.
Do your children visit during the day? My studio is two blocks away from their school, so more often than not, there will be activities in my studio after the final bell. It can be distracting, but they are the priority for this season of my life, so I try to be with them, help them, play with them, and work with them when I’m not pressed on deadlines.
Your studio is in the small town of Declo, with a population of about 350. How would you describe the area? Declo is a town where you can call the wrong number and whoever answers will supply you with the correct one. Jay Fox owns the only store/gas station in town, the Big Kahuna is the local bar, and I seldom take the keys out of my vehicles. I don’t like crowded places, so we live on a farm outside of town. As our six children have grown up, we have had cattle, horses, chickens, ducks, geese, goats, cats, and dogs.
How does your physical environment influence your work? The variety of plein-air painting locations around Declo is virtually unlimited. Within the same county is a 10,300-foot-tall peak all the way down to a 3,900-foot farm plain along the Snake River. So within minutes there is everything from alpine views to the visually rich Idaho farmland to the north.
What attracts you to landscape painting? My initial decision to become an artist was influenced by my childhood when I worked on the farm and also my desire to be outdoors. I enjoy being able to hunt or fish and still be on a work trip.
What do you keep in your studio? I have a large still-life and accessory collection; wild-game mounts, including deer, elk, beaver, raccoon, and bighorn sheep; two big-screen televisions for demonstrations during workshops; and more than 100 paintings hanging on the walls.
Do you listen to music in the studio? When there is studio traffic, I have music that ranges from Christian rap to Disney music from animated films to classical. Studio traffic includes family, friends, apprentices, students, guests, and drive-by visitors.
Describe the style of your work. My work is a search for an effect of light, founded upon a simple design, using small pieces of harmonious color sitting within the appropriate mass value. I use many different tools in order to achieve a variety of shapes and surfaces. The tools vary from fingers to brushes, palette knives, trowels, rags, squeegees, large house-painting brushes, and my secret kitchen-spatula tool.
If your studio were on fire, what one thing would you save? My prayer journal and my family photographs.
What is one place people will never find you? In the south wing of my studio. It is a mess.
When people come to visit, where do you like to take them? I like to take them out on the Snake River in my pontoon boat. We can paint and photograph from it as well as sightsee or fish.
Trailside Galleries, Jackson, WY, and Scottsdale, AZ; Whistle Pik Galleries, Fredericksburg, TX; Broadmoor Galleries, Colorado Springs, CO; Dana Gallery, Missoula, MT; Kneeland Gallery, Sun Valley, ID; Montgomery-Lee Gallery, Park City, UT.
Featured in the July 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
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