Robert D. Harris: Social Explorer, Visionary and Leader

Inspiration is found everywhere and differs from artist to artist. For some, staying confined within the walls of a studio helps with focus and the creative process, but for Robert Harris, the process is a bit different. it .

“I didn’t want to share my artwork with anyone,” Harris said on VIMBY. He said his art felt too personal to share with anyone. However, after talking with another artist, he changed his mind and now wants to share what he feels through his art. Harris paints LIVE. Sometimes he’s in a gallery painting with others, and at other times he’s on the sidewalk painting by himself. No matter where he is, he loves painting for the world to see.

“It’s very different from being in the studio where you have a controlled environment, and you have things around you where you can take breaks. When you’re live painting, there [are] people watching you, so you have to perform, and that adrenaline comes up and you can get into an even deeper state of concentration and focus, and things come out that you don’t even know are there,” Harris explained.

The artist studied at San Diego State University, Deakin University in Australia and Summer Art and Design in Turkey. When he returned to San Francisco, he decided to start painting live.

“Live painting for me just started because friends asked me to paint, and I realized that I could perform in an environment where you have to create something in a matter of hours,” Harris said on VIMBY.

Harris’ art is Neo-Abstract. He uses a mix of abstract shapes and lines with other immediately recognizable images, especially flowers, faces and eyes.

“One aspect of the eyes that I enjoy is when someone looks at the painting, and they see the eyes, and the eyes gaze back at the person, it kind of creates this dialogue between the art and the viewer, which I believe stimulates a type of self-reflection,” Harris said with Offbeat Art San Francisco.

He said the eyes have different meanings for different pieces, and are also significant in different cultures. The eyes and the other images he creates are a crucial part of his style.

“A vital moment for defining my style was during a two year period where I sheltered myself from distractions and made art without the influence of other art around me. The common thread within my artwork is to inspire new perspectives and stimulate growth and change,” Harris said in the online magazine Media Roots.

As far as materials go, Harris is open to anything. A lot of his pieces are acrylics on canvas, but he doesn’t restrict himself to those materials. He likes to use anything that will help spread what he has to say as an artist.

“I’m an artist that has no limits with material, so anything that I can get my hands on to shape or mold into my vision, I will use. I’m not limited by any material,” Harris said in an interview with Offbeat Art San Francisco.

Harris enjoys art, and his favorite pieces depend on his mood. He takes the role of an artist seriously.

“As an artist, I take responsibility as a social explorer, visionary and leader,” Harris said in Media Roots. Harris gets his inspiration from everywhere. He looks to the world for inspiration, and sometimes sees it in his friends and other artists that he knows.

“I get a lot of inspiration through natural patterns, observing nature and observing relationships between people,” Harris said in Dig In Magazine.

For upcoming artists, Harris advises to keep going and don’t stop.“It’s just like there’s a lot of people out there that will give you praise, and there’s a lot of people out there that won’t get it. You just have to keep on doing it for your own reasons and not because of what other people say. You have that voice inside of you telling you to do it because it feels right, and you just go for it. You take that kind of leap of faith and everything else will fall into place,” Harris said in Dig In.

He wants artists to get away from the “starving artist” mentality. There’s the business side to art that a lot of artists in any field don’t like to do. However, they must do those tedious tasks in order to make a living off of art like Harris does. He creates art for people to see and experience outside of just looking. The audience can watch the art in progress as Harris turns nothing into something spectacular.

-Geneva Toddy, 2011