Biography of Bob Cairone

Personal Information


I have been passionate about art since adolescence. As a very young child I was passionate about chess - these are among my earliest memories. Then I became passionate about reading and science. My path to art started with high school at 13. Living in the dense urban metrolopis of New York City, my parents sent me to catholic grade school and then catholic high school. Much to my consternation, an all male, catholic high school. Freshman year, everyone had to take an art class. We had a student intern teacher for the fledgling art program, a young woman who was only four years older than we were.  At first I didn't take the class very seriously, and peer pressure was against it. However, her love of art was contagious, and she recognized and nurtured an inclination I didn't know I was showing. My first painting, to reflect my interest in Roman history, was a copy of a bust of Julius Caesar in basalt, as shown in Will Durant's epic Story of Civilization.  It came out halfway decently, maybe a bit more. Shortly after that, a friend of my mother's gave me a nice set of oil paints, and I was allowed to take over a room in the attic as my very own studio.  Man, was it hot up there! But that summer, I began to paint in earnest. Later, I took group painting lessons with Marge Colavito, a local artist in Jersey City.

I also started collecting art at that time, to a small degree. In an age when most teenage boys hungs posters of Farrah Fawcett on their walls, I covered mine with lithographs by Robert Kipniss and engravings by Salvador Dali. My dad helped me to collect books at that time. Any books and I still have them all. He also supplimented my art collecting habits with posters and limited edition prints. In his memory, all of my oldest prints are among my most tresured posessions.

Not being very athletic, I spent my time between my schoolwork, my interest in science, and my art. Science became my academic focus and then my profession, and then raising a family was the priority. Painting became an avocation that I persued sometimes energetically and sometimes intermittantly, as I made my living as a software engineer. For a while in the early 1990's, I made a serious effort with some success in establishing myself in the Long Island, NY art scene. At the same time, unfortunately, the economy of Long Island took several catastrophic losses, and the bottom fell out of my day job along with forty thousand other engineers. This forced my relocation to the Midwest, followed by several of life's challenges. Art became a less dominant priority.

My return to art happened as I discovered colored pencils after reading a book by Bet Borgeson, and found them quite suitable for my circumstances.  They are very convenient, requiring no set up or clean up effort, and no dedicated studio space either. After taking a workshop with her, colored pencils became my medium of choice for a time. And one can produce paintings with colored pencils - they are not necessarilly called drawings.

Eventually, the twilight of my professional computer engineering career dovetailed with my rededication to art. I am now fully, in body and soul, an artist. Though I consider myself laregly self taught as a painter, so many people have influenced me as an artist, from other artists living and historic, to family and friends, teachers, and writers, and so on. And I hope my art continues to grow and mature as I continue to grow and develop as a person and as an artist in the broader sense.

As for my writing, I have always been a big reader, for as long as I can remember. As a child, I would read under the covers in bed with a flashlight. My parents were supportive of my reading habit, and would take me to the library frequently. They would allow me to buy books pretty much whenever I wanted. I was soon surrounded by books, many of them art books. The idea of writing to me was natural, and is something I've always done, from as early as I can remember. Currently, I have a few ideas I'd like to develop, like a comedy about a curious incident in Catholic church history called The Cadaver Synod, another on the tragedy of Giordano Bruno, and a play about a chess tournament held in 1924.

Artist Statement

My style of art is realism, usually paintings in oils or colored pencils, or graphite drawings. My technique is traditional. I paint in a layered approach using transparent glazes over a colored underpainting. Each layer adds vibrancy, detail, depth and presence.

The paintings I create are usually highly detailed to show the connectedness of nature in the large and the small. My art is inspired by the incredible beauty and intracacy of the natural world, and by the richness and power of the human spirit. I seek to show the power and influence of macrocosm in the microcosm.

Art has always been a major part of who I am. Growing up in the New York City area, museums and libraries were a big influence on my development. Largely self-taught, I began painting in oils in my early teens. Although my professional career took a technical bend, I have always drawn and painted. I tend to do series of subjects; for example I frequently show hawks or orchids, and I'm working on a series of hands playing musical instruments. I've studied under or taken workshops by Marge Colavito, Debbie Howard, Bet Borgeson, and Bonnie Auten.

Art is both uniquely person and universal. It is intimate and public. A good painting should express something of the artist and the world as they see it. It should inform and transform the artist and the viewer. A very good painting should touch something universal and personal in both the artist and the viewer. I have always believed that a picture only becomes art when it occupies the imagination of the observer.

As in quantum physics, an act of observation can change the world. So is it with art.

Among my strongest influences are the Renaissance Italians, the early Flemish, and the surrealists. All these artists painted detailed, naturalistic images while telling a story or conveying an implied meaning. I try to do the same.

Curriculum Vitae