Robert Decker explains art techniques with Kathy Shepherd during an class at the Stomping Grounds. Robert teaches class on Monday nights at the coffee and wine shop at 208 Trade Street.
Kathy and Becca Shepherd have taken art instruction from Robert Decker.
These are some of the tools and supplies Robert Decker uses for his sketches of people in restaurants and coffee shops, drawings of buildings and landscapes, and fanciful pictures of dragons and other mythical creatures.
He’s teaching a colored pencil class at Stomping Grounds on Monday evenings (7-9 p.m.), and I sat down with him there to find out where his passion comes from and what inspires him to teach others. He almost always carries a sketchbook with him. If you ask, he’ll show you his sketches of people in restaurants and coffee shops, drawings of buildings and landscapes, and fanciful pictures of dragons and other mythical creatures. I felt inspired just looking through the pages.
Robert explains, “It starts with the creativity. I’ve always loved being creative, even when I was a kid. If I wasn’t building something, I was painting.” This love for creativity and making things continued through high school. Robert says that one of the most influential people in his life was his high school art teacher, Ken Cutway. “He is such an interesting human being. He was so inspirational and he encouraged me to pursue art and to explore creativity. I’m still in touch with him even today.”
At Kent State University, Robert continued to follow the path of creativity, where he was in the art program. Robert believes that art is about taking risks, and that’s one of the things he learned while at Kent State. “While I was there, I think one of the biggest benefits was the opportunity and the encouragement to figure things out, to explore, to let go of your fear and try different things.”
This theme of letting go of fear is one that Robert reiterates to his students as he instructs them. Watching him teach, whether it’s an acrylic class or a pastel class or a colored pencil class, you see students that are struggling, reluctant to make a mistake. “Just let go, loosen up. Just try putting some marks down. It’s OK to mess up,” he encourages.
Robert teaches theory and techniques, but he emphasizes that once people learn those, it comes down to experimenting and trying things. “I want people to learn the techniques, but I don’t want them to think they have to do it my way. I want them to figure it out and take those skills to make whatever they want to make. I want them to feel free and not worry about being judged.”
Students learn not only the foundational skills and techniques, but also to face their fear of failure and to break through what’s holding them back. “The excitement for me is to watch them grow,” he says. “People will often take more than one class, and so I get to see them progress and branch out. It’s rewarding.”
Robert teaches classes not only at Stomping Grounds, but also at the Greenville County Museum of Art, the Anderson Arts Center, and The Artists Guild Gallery in Greenville. See the list below for current classes and workshops being offered.
At Stomping Grounds (208 Trade Street, 801-1555)
Informal Colored Pencil Class -- Monday evenings at 7 pm. Cost is $10 per session.
For more information, contact Robert at [email protected] or 614-554-6063.
At the Anderson Arts Center:
Drawing Dragons I -- Day workshop, Saturday, Sept. 15, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Drawing Dragons II -- Day workshop, Saturday, Oct. 27, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Pastels: Landscapes – Day workshop, Saturday, Sept. 29, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Pastels: Landscapes -- Day workshop Saturday, Oct. 13, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Acrylic Landscape – 2-day workshop Saturday, Nov. 3 and Nov. 10, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Gift of Art Holiday Painting -- Day workshop Saturday, Dec. 8, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
For more information, contact the Anderson Arts Center at 864-222-2787.
At the Greenville County Museum of Art:
Colored Pencil Class -- starts Sept. 11 and ends the second week of November, on Tuesday mornings. For more information, call 864.294.2153 or go to www.furman.edu/learningforyou.
• Robert is also available for individual instruction in a variety of media, including pastel, acrylics, colored pencil, and pencil/charcoal drawing.
Email [email protected] or call 614-554-6063.