A resident of Glen Rose, Texas, Robert Summers is an oil painter and sculptor in realist style of contemporary western subjects, especially cattle ranching. He is the creator of numerous public art projects including the world's largest bronze for the Pioneer Plaza at the Dallas Convention Center. It has seventy longhorn steers and three horses and riders on a cattle drive. Completed in the mid 1990s, it took him two and a half years.
As a child in Glen Rose, he took art lessons and was inspired by his father, a local judge and Frederic Remington buff. In his 20s, he worked with the Texas Highway Department and then with General Dynamic Aircraft, while working part time as an artist. Expressing desire to devote full time to his art career, he was supported for one year by a cousin, and by the late 1960s, he was achieving public success. In 1976, he was recognized as the official Texas Bicentennial Artist.
Peggy and Harold Samuels, "Contemporary Western Artists"
A representational oil painter and sculptor of the contemporary West, was born in Glen Ross, Texas in 1940 and is still living there. "I paint the people and things I know," he observes." "I find it hard to paint anything unless it relates to my own experience. Occasionally I'll read some historical story and try to recreate that moment, but I have to be careful to make the costumes and weapons correct. Cattle ranching may be a vanishing way of life, but the basic principles are still much the same as they were a hundred years ago."
"I was brought up in a small country town, among normal people, and I intend to keep it that way." Son of a judge, he was encourages when he began drawing as a boy. After he finished high school, he worked for a construction crew, took correspondence courses in art, and then was employed as a technical illustrator. "That was good training," he says. "We had to take blueprints and try to picture what the finished object would look like."
In 1964, a cousin paid Summers' living expenses for a year so he could paint full time. "Things got pretty tight," he recalls, "and if we hadn't lived in a small town, it would have been impossible." By 1966, he was exhibiting successfully. In 1969, he sold twelve paintings at a solo show in Odessa, and in 1973 his work was reproduced by the Franklin Mint. He was the official Texas Bicentennial Artist in 1976, and in 1979, the five painting he exhibited at the Western Heritage Show in Houston were sold, one for $29,600. In 1980 he was commissioned to model a heroic memorial of John Wayne.
Resource: Contemporary Western Artists, by Peggy and Harold Samuels 1982, Judd's Inc., Washington, D.C.