He may have been one of the “Madmen,” but Bob Askey is no longer pitching advertising ideas to clients, but creating art for an appreciative audience. However, there’s still a bit of the ad man in him, as his artwork is based on concepts.
“I like pulling ideas out of thin air,” says Askey.
Concepts are always in various stages of process in his Keene, New Hampshire, studio. Strong design elements underpin his works. One can see how he’s inspired by the artists he admires, such as George Inness, Amedeo Modigliani and Norman Rockwell. Creations come forth using pen and ink, pencil, etching, mixed media, watercolor and oils.
“The idea often determines the media,” explains Askey.
Askey has been artistic since his childhood in Ohio.
He notes, “I’ve been involved in art since I was about four years old. That’s when people began to tell me I had been given a special gift of talent.”
Later, Askey earned a bachelor degree in art. But then, though offered a position in the art department of a renowned ad agency in New York City, Bob chose the executive track. Art, especially pen and ink drawing, became a hobby. Once retired from the ad business, art became the focal point of his life. He took art classes at Keene State College and began etching, printmaking, and using pen, pencil, and brush. His career and life are the subject of his new book, “My Life in Black and White.”
For Askey, inspiration comes from almost anywhere.
“I keep a sketch pad near when I am watching sports on TV. I am more or less doodling,” he says. “The pencil is moving even if I have no intent or sense of direction. After a while, something I see or hear will take control of the pencil. There may be no recognizable idea on the pad, but the next time I pick up that sketch pad sometimes one of the doodles suggests something. Suddenly, out of nothing I am able to see potential, and an idea comes alive.”
The idea in the cover painting is rural New Hampshire life. These mailboxes come from his memory and imagination — no photos needed.
“I simply played with the individual features of each mailbox until they pleased my eye as a group,” says Askey. “The building is sparse in architectural detail so that it doesn’t fight for attention with the mailboxes.”
Many of his works are masterful displays of details.
“I work hard on creating complicated detail-loaded visuals because I know it’s what my audience enjoys,” he says. “I am more interested in giving people what they want than I am in getting personal satisfaction from my work.”
To see Bob’s works in his Keene studio contact him at bobaskeyart.com. Also, his works will be exhibited at Kristin’s Bistro and Bakery, Keene, New Hampshire, during November and until November 11 at his solo show at the Jaffrey Civic Center, Jaffrey, New Hampshire, or a group show in the Walpole Town Hall, November 24, 25 and 26.