Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Artist of the Week

Robert Hardgrave

Robert Hardgrave, a.k.a. Farmerbob, loves metal bands, drinking coffee, and oh yeah painting incredible works of art. He has lived in Seattle for the last fourteen years, and there is no better place to live for a coffee drinker. He creates intricate, winding, adventurous pieces that draw you in immediately. While you try to figure out if what you are looking at is just a design or something deeper, eyes and fingers begin to appear. With each viewing a different detail is found adding to the beauty of the piece, and allowing to viewer to add his or her own interpretation as to what the image may be.

Recently, Farmerbob was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about his name, his work, and his love of coffee. Here is what we found out:

Orange Alert (OA): Where does the name Farmerbob come from?
Robert Hardgrave (RH): When I first launched the farmerbobsfarm site I wanted a way to be memorable. Also at that point I was drawing lots of chickens, cows and pigs. I moved through that sort of work pretty quickly, but everyone was referring to me as farmerbob already so I just kept it. It has served me well.

OA: How would you define your work? RH: Organic, calligraphic, autobiographical. My work portrays the two sides to life with a slight bias towards the dark side of things.

OA: What is your typical starting point for a new piece, and how long does it take you to complete that piece?
RH: Generally I begin a piece with no specific intentions. I just build up the color, then the lines, until something I can recognize appears. Painting and drawing to me are mostly about the rhythm of my hand and the movement of the brush. I do however have a sort of vocabulary that is repeated throughout the work. It is just varied upon itself over and over again. The amount of detail really determines the length it takes to complete a painting. Typically I would say between 20 to 25 hours for a 24" x 24" piece.

OA: Do you listen to music when you paint? If yes, who are some your favorite musicians to listen to? Does their music impact your painting in anyway?
RH: Definitely. I am an avid metal enthusiast. Some of my current favorites are 1349, Amon Amarth, Belphegor, Melechesh and Keep of Kalessin. Basically this sort of music aids in the rhythm I was referring to in the previous question. It has a driving beat and there is plenty of variance to keep me interested.

OA: Who are some of your biggest influences artistically?
RH: People who are working hard at doing their thing. I really prefer work that is original and raw yet retains some sort of character/narrative elements. I enjoy work that is immediate and not overworked. I am going to refrain from mentioning anyone because there are so many people's work I enjoy.

OA: Bonus question: As a fellow coffee drinker (I consume about 10 cups per day), what is your favorite type of coffee, and how many cups a day do you drink?
RH: Good question. I by no means ingest that much coffee per day. You are a nut!!! For me 2 cups usually, 3 if I am feeling really indulgent. I frequent this place near my studio that serves Stumptown coffee. It is really good and sort of chocolaty. The same reason I enjoy Cafe Vita at home. When I order a coffee it is usually two shots of espresso with just a little bit of hot water and of course sugar and cream.

On February 17th, Robert was involved in the inaugural show "Elevation" at the Limited Addiction Gallery in Denver, CO. For the rest of 2007, he will be involved in the two Artdorks show in June, a solo show at The Autopsy Gallery in Melbourne, Australia, and a solo show at BLK/MRKT in LA in December. For more on Farmerbob visit his website or his flickr page.