Rob Hartshorn was born in 1953, raised in Philadelphia and is now based in the Tremont Arts District of Cleveland, Ohio. He is a fourth generation artist whose creative journey has followed the inspiration of his maternal grandfather, architect and artist Walter Antrim; “Painting is its own reward” was his first lesson, and the sale of an early “masterpiece” for $25 in 1960 made his grandmother his first patron.
Rob then wandered from medium to medium and subject to subject until he found a home in his late twenties in Classical Realism, an artistic movement that places a high value upon skill and beauty, combining elements of 19th-century neoclassicism and realism. His arts education was to research and experience firsthand the writings, works and techniques of great masters of the past; Vermeer for delicate colors, Bouguereau for luminous flesh, Raeburn for subtle expression. This adventure of discovery found him in museums, studios and private collections from New York to London to Beijing.
EducationIn practice, there have been many contemporary mentors, masters and ateliers that have influenced Rob and shared their love of traditional technique with him. And now after five decades of painting, he has found his own path; five years ago he opened Hartshorn Studios, an art collaborative, devoted to portraiture and figure painting. He has found success in simply painting and continuing to share the techniques that others have shared with him.
TechniqueAlways a follower of chiaroscuro, Rob explores the evocative beauty of light playing over the human figure. He hopes that people viewing his work see the beauty that he sees without any need for further interpretation.
Oil on fine linen is his medium. Extensive glazing is his method. His palette is extremely spare but complete. Like so many before him, for inspiration Rob explores the endless nuances of poses and works with live models. He looks for subtle expression in the body; an inner emotion expressed in an outer form or contour. Digital media is employed to capture movement and gesture.
Recent WorkThe current selection on display at Art-Expo New York 2013 includes a series of figural works including one model, Niki. To the artist,” Niki is a young woman whom everybody loves, and no one really knows. I found her vulnerable and reserved in her posing. In the painting, I left her so…demur but seductive and beautiful….the balance of negative space reflects her isolation.”