Interview: Robert Peterson


Art is truly a medium of humanity. For some, the genres within shift across the entire spectrum either by chance or choice. Each piece has its lasting impressions spanning the artists that create them. Most art tends to succeed best when it lingers in the mind of the observer. Contemporary visual artist, Robert Peterson, is one such purveyor of the art space that meets such impressive standards. To top it all off, the artist is self-taught with exemplary results. Robert has used this sudden and genuine talent well to the joy of art fans across the globe.

Despite his obvious skill in the painting medium, it was not his career path from the start. “I decided to try my hand at art shortly after receiving news from my doctors that I would need hip replacement surgery in 2012. The fact that it may be a risky surgery because of my size scared me at the time. I guess that fear pushed me into wanting to try something new that would take my mind off the surgery and also allow me to leave something for my kids if I didn’t make it out…” Now his family and others will have plenty to enjoy.

Robert never slows down in his process. “I am constantly trying to improve the overall quality of my artwork so I try to spend 40-60 hours a week creating. I’ve done this just about every week since I first began painting back in July of 2012. Having created so many different works of art I find myself changing my mind about which works are better than others. At the moment I believe that my top five pieces would be [the following:”

“‘My President Is’ (Barack & Michelle Obama) … It’s the largest piece I’ve ever created. It also symbolizes the change, freedom and in my opinion what love is.”

“‘The People’s Champion’ (Young Ali), … I truly respect Muhammad Ali and what he stood for as a boxer and a human being. Another reason is because [this was the] first of my work to be added to Diddy’s personal collection.”

“‘Bob Marley,’ this piece makes my … five list because I like the way it turned out. I was actually excited to see it all come together.”

“‘Nelson Mandela,’ I created this piece in 2015 as a part of my 48 series which included several paintings all measuring 48X48 in.”

“‘Untitled (Red Horse),’ This is my latest painting and it made the top five for several reasons. It’s the first time I’ve ever painted a horse, I’m known for doing portraits of people so the transition was slightly challenging. I had a vision while painting the ‘People’s Champion’ back in 2015 about doing a painting of a red horse and it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that I actually began sketching the horse out on a canvas.”

Exploring new elements in his painting is the essence of artistic growth for some who attempt the challenge of evolving their craft. “I plan to build a collection around my latest painting of the red horse. As an artist it’s a goal of mine to try and push myself and challenge my abilities to create. The horse was definitely the hardest thing I’ve done yet.”  

Painting may not be his only medium as he pushes the boundaries of his skill. “I think most artists have a desire to explore beyond art and I’m no different. I would love to learn how to create statues, clothing and even furniture. One of my goals after I become more established in the art world is to break into the restaurant business and maybe even literature and film. I love to cook and the older I get I have found that reading for me is relaxing. I would love to write about my life both as an artist and as a family man.”

Mr. Peterson’s influences run strong and true. “I grew up in Lawton, OK and still live and work here. There really isn’t much of an art culture here due to the lack of art being taught and funded by the state. So, I find inspiration from other artists via social media and books. Artists like Hebru Brantley, Knowledge Bennett, Ron Bass, Retna, Basquiat and a few others push me creatively.” Fine choices all.

Luckily, the artist can find ways to relax and prepare for the next challenge at hand. “Today is Sunday, which is also the only day of the week that all of my family is home together, so it’s a day of relaxation.  We usually will get a few movies and hang out in our movie room … eating popcorn and junk food. Family is my greatest inspiration and motivation, so Sunday is also like my personal day that I use to refresh and regroup before heading into a week of creating.”

Next on the list will be an exciting suite of art to come. “I’m building a body of work centered around my latest painting in hopes of showing in either Houston, TX or in Los Angeles, CA this summer. I plan to have anywhere from 8 to 12 new pieces completed.”

Robert Peterson’s work is fluid, impactful and leaves a lasting impression. Each figure or object of focus in his work is front and center with immense power behind it. Figures are locked in the viewer’s mind and the smooth brush strokes enlighten the colors within. The backdrops are plain and complement each image to its utmost capacity. He does not see any alterations going on moving forward in his style. “I don’t feel I would change anything. I like that my growth as an artist is organic. I don’t force anything and I try to remain inspired by life at all times. I feel that the art world is a constant changing world full of interesting people and beautiful colors.” There it is, simple and sweet.