Robert (1)1) What made you want to pursue a career in art?

There is no one specific reason I chose to pursued a career in art. I was both inspired by art and seemed to have a talent for it at a young age. I don’t ever remember a time that an image by Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Rockwell and many, many others did not invoke in me a personal and visceral response. As a youngster and young adult most of the myriad jobs I had involved art in some way.  I just think it’s what I was supposed to do.

2) What got you into doing sports paintings? / Do you do any other artwork outside of the sports realm? If so what else?

There are three influences that led me to painting sports figures and scenes as a career.

Growing up in Texas I, naturally, played football from 2nd grade to a very short (bench warming) stint in college. I played PeeWee baseball also, but the fact that I couldn’t see very well made me (again) a bench warmer. I had more success in Judo and motocross, both of which I competed in for approximately 7 years. As a more mature adult, I played competitive, pick-up volleyball and was both a student and instructor of Kuk Sool Won. So obviously, I had (and still have) an affinity for sports. So I started painting what I enjoyed.

Additionally, my dad work for a medical book publisher so I had access to anatomy and pathology books at a very early age. I also got to sit in on operations and for a short time studied medical illustration. I enjoyed then, and still do, the study the body. Hence the painting of people and particularly people in motion.

Completed SackLastly, I made sports my primary focus when at a show in Austin in the late 1980’s a University of Texas alumni commissioned me to do a painting of Earl Campbell. This was the pinnacle of awesomeness for me as I’m originally from Houston and I bled Colombia Blue. I decided to see if I could get Campbell to sign the painting. It took a while, but I got the job done. Campbell loved the artwork and commissioned me to do 3 paintings for him. That led to a limited edition print series signed by Campbell. My work was then noticed by Darrell Barrett, who in 1994 was opening the Gallery at the Ballpark in Arlington. From there my wife and I decided it was time for me to start painting full time and to focus on sports art in particularly. Afterwards I became the Official Artist for the Texas Sports HOF then the National College Football HOF, the Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo plus a couple of more.

My success in sports has allowed me to return to some of the other subjects I enjoyed before plus trying out some new ones as well. These include primarily, Native Americans, critters and musicians, all of which I absolutely love doing. I’m very happy to say that these non-sports paintings have been very well received too.

3) What medium do you work with and why?

Although I’ve worked with various mediums including, oils, pastels, watercolors, airbrush, technical pens, markers, and inks, I’ve mostly settled in with acrylics for the past 25 years. The properties of acrylic – fast drying, versatility, bold colors – suit my personality and style of painting. Additionally, I feel I can achieve the appearance and essence of other mediums with just this one.

Raiders Painting by Robert Hurst4) What is your favorite sport to watch and what is your favorite sport to paint? and why? Who is your favorite athlete if anyone? What is your favorite sports team (if any team)?

In my experience, motorcycling never leaves your system, and that’s what I like to watch most. I’ve always been a football fan, so I follow each season of course, and catch games when I can. When I was with the sports art galleries in Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas and Houston I began noticing the nuances of baseball and began to appreciate it more. The automobile sports – Formula One, NASCAR and Indy – are hard to beat for an in person, live experience.

I don’t really have a favorite sport to paint. I feel I’m an equal opportunity sports painter. It’s the motion, color and pageantry I love to capture and that can be found in all sports.

My favorite athlete of all time is Muhammad Ali. I was honored to get to know him a bit when our paths would cross at various events in the 1980 and 90’s. He seemed to like me and I, of course, revered him. Brooks Robinson is my second (a distant) fave. Of currently playing athletes, my favorite is probably J J Watt at this time.

Since I’m originally from Houston, the Houston Oilers was my favorite team by far. I was at both Luv Ya Blue pep rallies after we lost to the Steelers, sadly. The Houston Rockets have given me the greatest joy as a fan. 1994 – 1995, heck yeah! There’s a special place in my sports heart for the Astros too. Outside of Houston my favorite team is the University of Texas football team from my second hometown, Austin. Lots of history there, plus a great mascot. Hook’em

5) Who are some of your favorite artists (past or present)?

Caraviggio, Michelangelo, Goya, Picasso, Rockwell and Van Gogh are my “masters of the arts” idols. Oleg Stavrowsky, Kyle Polzin, Bart Forbes, Sam Yeates, Julie Speed, and Neiman are my contemporary idols.

One of the best compliments I’ve ever received was by a writer in Detroit. He said, “Hurst’s originals are reminiscent of Leroy Neiman in color and Norman Rockwell in attention to detail”.  A comparison to 2 of my idols. Heart be still.