Abby Leon, Paradigm Gallery Director
Contemporary artist Bob Cross sees the world through a different lens! Bob’s creative process involves intuitive thinking and mindfulness. Moment to moment, he has the ability to be fully present and aware of his surrounding environment all while honing in on his feelings, thoughts, and senses. With these thoughts flowing freely, he will sketch and record his ideas before any reasoning can take over. The ideas come just as he perceives them in the abstract – tuning into light, colors, shapes, and forms. It is after these initial impressions that he goes back and selects which “thought bubble” best validates and inspires the start of a larger work. Heavily influenced by his parents, who were both artists, he earned his B.A. in Fine Art at Atlanta College of Art and a Master’s of Fine Art (M.F.A) from Ohio University. He worked as a master printer at Tyler Graphics LTD, in New York, collaborating on published projects with Frank Stella, David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, Helen Frankenthaler, Anthony Caro, Richard Smith, Michael Heizer, Alan Shields, and Steven Sorman. Just recently, Bob exhibited his latest series in a solo show, Stream of Consciousness, here at the FWMoA in 2019. With his experience, knowledge, and natural talents, Bob continuously produces masterful paintings, prints, and sculptures which all stem from simple notions of day-to-day life.
Last month, Abby Leon at Paradigm Gallery asked if I would write a blog entry for the Museum about my painting process. To be honest, my painting process is not something I think about, making this a first look in the mirror for me. Abby wanted to follow a canvas from start to finish, and I wanted a time lapse look at my studio wall over the space of a week or two; hopefully, you get both.
I see a lot of artists’ studios, and they generally fall into one of two types: very clean or very messy. Clearly, mine is the latter. In addition to fine art, my day job of creating luxury decorative finishes also operates in this space. I enjoy the overlap of architectural and purely fine art painting.
Work on my painting begins with drawings; I carry paper and pencil, constantly drawing what I think of as the space between myself and everything that’s on the other side of that. Every week I review these drawings as a group, finding patterns and selecting work I find compelling by categories.
Simultaneously, I’m preparing canvases, underpainting, and creating a surface. I like a surface with texture and character, one that doesn’t look like it could be recreated or copied photographically. It is a challenge to define my perspective in a world that rewards conformity.
For my blog post, I’ve chosen a 30” x 30” canvas with a grey under painting and 2 drawings. It’s in my nature to create a painting, then obliterate it and finish with an entirely different painting over the first one. I think of this as a palimpsest, part of our cultural language which mirrors real life. We are constantly moving from one space to another, bombarded with fragmented images and ideas all day long. So… as you can see from the photos, I begin with the grey square, start painting the first image, which began as a human figure, and then cover that with a light grey wash. Then, I over paint that with the second image. My finished painting, It Started Like This, retains traces of the first image as it transforms into an abstract still life.
It’s safe to say my process doesn’t have a fixed point of completion; it’s not an illustration, it’s a statement about the way I see the world unfolding around me. I think of the background and the buried image as a representation of the subconscious or nature, and the foreground “still life” as manufactured “reason”, or consciousness.
To see It Started Like This, the two drawings, or more of Bob Cross’ artwork, come visit us at the Paradigm Gallery! Tuesday-Saturday 10am-6pm; Thursday 10am-8pm; Sunday 12pm-5pm