Robert Hofherr avoids depicting a landscape exactly as he sees it or as the viewer might expect. Instead, he enjoys reimagining landscapes and painting his pieces indoors at a fairly rapid pace. The works of French Fauve artists Maurice de Vlaminck and André Derain initially got him interested in painting, and also influenced his decision to not use grey in his works. During his free time he enjoys spending time with his kids, walking his dogs and taking road trips to out-of-way places in the mid-Atlantic region. He currently lives in Maryland.
Keep reading for Robert’s full UGallery interview.
Walk us through creating a piece. Your reference material, tools you use, how long does it take?
My reference material is occasionally a sketch; usually a photo. I always work from black and white source material, as I prefer to invent the colors based on what the painting needs. I paint over the gesso with a thin coat of either raw or burnt umber. This gives me a middle ground to start with, value-wise, so I can work from there to the lightest and darkest parts of the painting. I start with a very rough sketch based on the photo, but only to give a basic idea of the composition. I frequently alter the compositional elements to increase impact. I work fairly quickly, as I have found that I need to work spontaneously in order to maintain that freshness and visual excitement that I want to convey. The amount of detail varies from work to work, but I’m not trying to create anything remotely photographic or “realistic.” I just don’t see the point.
How has your style changed over the years?
I’d say that I have more control over my handling of the paint than previously. I’m also more ruthless about what I think is working in a painting and what isn’t. I very rarely return to a “finished” and rework, as I find that it usually works the first time or it doesn’t.
What should people know about your art that they can’t tell from looking at it?
There’s a lot of texture to the surface, which adds interest in my opinion. Also, I want to create works that function on several levels. At the normal viewing distance, one can tell that it’s a landscape. Viewed very closely, however, one sees only the raw elements of art—line, color, texture, almost like looking at an abstract. I believe that this makes these works more interesting for a longer period of time, as the viewer sees new things and new relationships over time. If one hangs something in their home, it’s nice to think that it doesn’t become old or boring after a week or two.
What’s your favorite piece of art in your UGallery portfolio?
Two recent works—Poplars and Victorian Near Wittman.
Do you have any memorable stories with clients?
A client saw a work in a local show and expressed interest. I set the painting aside, and about 6 months later she called me after tax time and completed the sale.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I don’t know about “hidden.” I’m a creative director/graphic designer in my day job, which probably informs my need to start with an interesting composition. I play the guitar moderately well.
What are your favorite activities outside of painting?
Family, walking my dogs, guitar, reading. I occasionally do day trips to interesting, out-of-the-way places in the Mid-Atlantic. I’m always on the lookout for the next big idea for a painting.
What is your studio like?
It’s a converted bedroom in my home, so it’s not huge but not terribly cluttered. The light is best in the morning until mid-afternoon.