Bob Stuth-Wade of Dublin is a talented enough artist to have won the Best of Show award for three consecutive years — 2018, ’19 and ’20 — in the Stars of Texas Juried Art Exhibit.
The 67-year-old can be philosophical and insightful about his work.
Thursday afternoon at Brownwood’s Depot Cultural and Civic Center, where Stuth-Wade was one of three artists putting on demonstrations for groups of schoolchildren, the skilled artist was clearly having fun.
Stuth-Wade used charcoal and pastels to paint a comical, bespectacled, hamburger-eating, diet beverage-drinking dinosaur.
He laughed as children took turns suggesting accessories including giving the green creature a cell phone. Stuth-Wade maintained a conversation with the schoolchildren as he painted, with topics ranging from lessons on light and shape to his observations about the increasingly goofy looking dinosaur.
Stuth-Wade won the Best of Show award at this year’s exhibit for his painting called “Of a Feather.”
“It’s kind of embarrassing,” Stuth-Wade said with a laugh, referring to his three-peat. Then he added, “It’s nice. It’s really nice. The people here are super nice folks and they do a really good job organizing everything.
“They’ve had some really good quality judges. The last fellow, Randy Hall, did beautiful critiques on all of the pieces that he chose. It was insightful. I got a lot out of just listening to what he said.”
Stuth-Wade, an artist by profession, was born in Norfolk, Virginia, but he has no memories of that location. “I was just a little kid,” Stuth-Wade said.
His connection to Dublin came through his grandparents, who had a farm there.
“I used to go in the summer with my cousins and we’d hang out and play,” Stuth-Wade said. “When I was 18 I had a little bit of money, and I was persuaded to buy this house that we’re still living in for $3,900. I just bought the house and I was hitchhiking around.
“I’d come stay there every once in a while. Wanda and I got married and I thought, where are we going to live? I said I’ve got a house. We can go up there and see how that works out. We just moved there and had kids and never left.”
Stuth-Wade said when he was a kid, he drew.
“I was the kid that never stopped,” Stuth-Wade said. “Kids all draw. I just never stopped.”
Stuth-Wade thought for a moment when asked to describe what he finds appearing about being an artist.
“The intimacy that I have with life, when you do the work of an artist and do that work,” Stuth-Wade answered. “To do a good painting it has to come from your whole life.
“It requires me to be engaged in a way … I guess that’s why people jump out of airplanes and ski and do a lot of those extreme sports — it makes them leave their smaller self behind. I don’t need to do that. I can do that every day just by painting.”
Stuth-Wade said when he paints, he has to overcome a little voice in his head that tells him “there’s no way you’re ever going to be able to do this. It’s not good enough. You don’t have the skills. And I’ll think, OK, I’m just going to do it anyway.
“And the voice goes away, it gets tired, and then I’ll do something and then I’ll finish, and if it turns out pretty good, that same voice will come back and say you’re the greatest thing that ever lived. You’re Michelangelo and Rembrandt all rolled up together.”
Stuth-Wade said he tells that voice to shut up, because it’s the same voice that told him he couldn’t do it.
“Every day I have to go through that barrier, over and over and over,” Stuth-Wade said. “And every time I go through that, it’s like jumping in a pool of cold water. You jump in and you start swimming and you forget that it was cold because you leave that part of yourself behind that was afraid.
“I do that every day and it gets easier and easier and easier, but that sense of resistance never goes away.”
Stuth-Wade said he has judged art at a Stars of Texas exhibit. When asked what he looks for when judging art, Stuth-Wade said, “I want to be moved by it. Often I’ll look at something a child did and I like it better than the things that I’ve done because there’s a presence and immediacy.
“There’s no barrier between them and what they’re doing. There’s no pretense. I like to see that and I also like to see skill.”
Stuth-Wade used a term to describe a particular type of skill: “empty skill,” Stuth-Wade said. “Skill without that other quality is like a nouveau riche person. It’s like somebody with a lot of money and no taste. You’ve got skills but what are you doing with them? It supports your ego as opposed to being a mensch.
“A good movie for me was ‘Groundhog Day,’ where a schmuck becomes a mensch. I like to see that in a work of art also. I like to see that in a progression where somebody confronts that resistance and finds the humanity in themselves and the experience that they’re having.”
According to the website foltzgallery.com, Stuth-Wade is known for his still life and landscape paintings. Stuth-Wade relies primarily on oils to depict his naturalist representations of the Texas landscape, the website states.