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The Art Group was founded nearly two decades ago when several Little Rock artists came together to share an art studio. In 2013, the artists officially opened a gallery, Art Group Gallery, in Pleasant Ridge Shopping Center. Follow along as At Home in Arkansas interviews each of the group’s 18 artists to find out more about their inspirations and processes for creating.
At Home in Arkansas: Tell us a little about your background. Are you native to Arkansas?
Bob Snider: I am a native Arkansan, born in Smackover. I have degrees in art and business from Ouachita Baptist University and an MBA from the U of A. Following two years as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, I was press assistant to Senator John L. McClellan in Washington D.C., which was followed by a 30-year career as an investment banker for T.J. Raney & Sons and a managing director for Morgan Keegan. But my passion was always art. I got serious in watercolor thanks to a “Beginning Water Media” class at the Arkansas Arts Center. After some success with watercolor, I was challenged to try painting in oil, which has allowed me to paint in a bigger way.
AH: Is oil your primary medium now?
BS: Yes. I do a few commissions each year in watercolor, but I am a daily oil painter because I like the way it lends itself to impressionism with a really strong and exciting color palette. I take workshops every year, and I’ve both led and taken workshops in France and Italy.
AH: What are some of your earliest memories creating art? Were there any formative teachers or family members who encouraged you along the way?
BS: I was the art teacher’s pet in high school, and she selected me to illustrate the yearbook. She saw something in me that I didn’t see at all; I just knew it was fun and gave me an identity in high school and college. In fact, I was the only art major on football scholarship at Ouachita.
AH: How would you describe your style and inspirations? What do you hope people get from viewing or owning your art?
BS: When I started painting with watercolor, there were only two ways to go: realism, which was beyond my budding abilities, and impressionism. Painting impressionistically allows you to break a lot of the rules of form and color. People seem to like my impressionist paintings of horse racing scenes. This subject also allows me to “go big,” and I’ve done racing scenes as large as 4 feet by 7 feet. I finish them all with a palette knife and splatters, which creates a looseness that my collectors seem to like. I go back and forth between landscapes and horse racing scenes and have been honored to exhibit in the Jockey Club in Oaklawn for the past three racing seasons.
AH: Do you have a home studio?
BS: My wife and I built a studio across from our home and that is where I start every day. She doesn’t like the smell of oil paint, so I made a sketch of a barn-like structure that we turned over to an architect. It’s about 1,500 square feet with a loft bedroom for grandkids and a gallery for selling and displaying my paintings. The studio has wonderful northern light and an incredible view of a pasture with a pond and a barn and Rattlesnake Ridge in the background.
AH: Do you have a certain routine when you paint?
BS: Music is a big deal for me—and I have an endless variety, thanks to Alexa. I have a couple of guitars hanging on the wall, along with subjects for still life paintings. Most mornings start with the music of Sting, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, and Jimmy Webb all the way to classical and Yo-Yo Ma. I try to paint for a couple of hours every morning, then leave in time for my racquetball game or a workout, followed by my to-do list. Then I will return to the studio and critique my morning’s work. I can always see something that needs improvement.
Whether it’s a large piece or a small plein air painting, they all take several days. If I really like the piece, I will post it on my Facebook page. The feedback from Facebook friends is important to me. I market a good portion of my art to friends here in Little Rock and through Art Group Gallery in Pleasant Ridge. There are a few galleries in California and Wyoming that carry my work, but I really like forming relationships with collectors in Arkansas. My observation is that most serious art collectors want the backstory about paintings and artists and are proud to display the painting by someone they know. That’s what’s so great about the Art Group because Little Rock is a great town and a great market for art. We all seem to know each other, and can make a connection that makes our art personal.
AH: Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
BS: The best thing that’s happened to my art career, and my life, is meeting my wife Martha about 10 years ago. Thank you Lord for her and for the life You’ve given me!
Learn more about Bob and the Art Group Gallery at artgrouparkansas.com.