Robert Tracy is a self-trained artist who works in a variety of media — oil, watercolor, acrylic, pencil and even silverpoint. He also tackles a variety of subject matter — portraits, figures, still life and landscape. Over the years he has developed an approach he calls “romantic realism’.
Unfortunately, to see much of his work you must deal with some scattered resources. His main site has selections arranged by category, though limited in number, perhaps 5 or ten in each category.
Tracy has also just produced a book of his work through Blurb (more on Blurb in a future post), and one of his sites is now devoted to the book, with previews arranged as Drawings, Paintings and Military Art, though the selections are also limited here to just a few in each category.
Tracy is a Marine Corps veteran with two tours of duty in Vietnam, and a number of his works are of soldiers and military subjects from the point of view of a soldier, not the romanticized “military art” of video games and films.
The most extensive presence for his work is his gallery on deviantART. I’m not the biggest fan of the deviantART interface, and the work here seems to be arranged without categories, leaving a scattered arrangement of work from different times, of a variety of subjects, in various degrees of finish and from differing levels of learning and accomplishment. He seems to have little concern for putting his “best foot forward” or editing the content. An early rough sketch might be next to a recent finished work, giving a rather splintered impression of his work. I might suggest jumping several pages in and looking around. There are over 400 works posted, so finding the best pieces can take some digging.
You will find some sensitive, accomplished watercolor portraits of family members and friends, landscapes and still lifes in a variety of media, as well as more concept oriented pieces and studies from the masters. Tracy indicates that he arranged his self-training around studying works of the masters.
The image above, “That Look”, is in drybrush watercolor portrait (possibly of a family member, I’m not certain). The original post is here, click on the image for the larger version.
Tracy also maintains a blog called Illustrated Ideas. Unfortunately a recent change of some kind, blog design, ISP, blogging platform or all of the above, has apparently set the blog back to zero as of this month, with no access to the extensive archives that used to be available. Hopefully this can be rectified, as there were a number of interesting posts that would be nice to have back out on the new blog.
Illustrated Ideas isn’t specifically an art blog, though that has been a strong component in the past. The masthead reads “Art, Military, Politics, Religion”, topics that are likely to rouse strong opinions, of which Tracy isn’t shy.
Whether you agree with his point of view or not, as the new blog gets underway (or if the older archives are made available) you will find his posts on art worthwhile, whether speaking to his own work, process and learning experiences, or in features, similar to those on lines and colors, in which he discusses the work of artists that he admires. (It was through Illustrated Ideas that I was introduced to the stunningly beautiful woodblock prints of Kswase Hasui.)