Bobby Goldsboro's
Passion For Painting

interview by Andrew Elias

BOBBY GOLDSBORO STARTED his career as Roy Orbison’s guitarist, had a popular TV variety show in the mid-70s, and wrote the theme song to the hit TV series, Evening Shade, but is best known as for his classic hit song, ‘Honey’, the biggest selling single in 1968. He still tours today.

Recently Goldsboro started pursuing another of his creative passions — painting. Self-taught, he has been had exhibitions at galleries throughout the country, and Gateway Bank of Central Florida has recently purchased 31 pieces of art for their ‘Bobby Goldsboro Collection,’ to be on view at their Ocala facility.

The Sweet Art Gallery in Naples will be hosting an exhibition of paintings, ‘The Art of Bobby Goldsboro’, November 13 – December 13, with an artist’s reception the evening of November 13.

Goldsboro was nice enough to answer a few questions about his newfound passion — painting.

Andrew: What inspired you to start painting?

BOBBY GOLDSBORO: I sketched a little in high school and thought I might like to try oil painting. But the music career started and I put painting on the back burner — for over 40 years. My wife, Dianne and I would go to museums after I played concerts and I would study the paintings. She kept after me to start painting, so finally I said, “When I turn 65 I’ll start painting.” Well, I turned 65 in 2006, so I bought brushes, paints, canvases and an easel and went at it! It was trial and error, but I learned something with every new painting. I absolutely love painting and I try to paint every day.

When did you start exhibiting your paintings?

I had been painting for about five months when my wife encouraged me to put the paintings on my website. I sold my first painting within 48 hours. Then I sold a painting to someone in England and another in California. The Orlando Sentinel newspaper heard about my artwork and ran a feature on me. The response was overwhelming. I got a call from a gallery in Orlando. After meeting with them I decided to have my first art show. The show was a huge success. I have now done five one-man shows and I’m having a ball! The Gateway Bank of Central Florida recently bought 31 giclee prints of my artwork to permanently display in their bank.

Did you ever study painting?

No, I wish I had. But, in a way it’s like music. I never had any formal training in music. However, not knowing the rules lets you be a little more ‘adventurous’ and try something out of the norm. I’m always experimenting with different brushes, different techniques — sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.

Who are some of the painters you admire or who influenced you?

I think at an early age I liked the realists more than anyone else. I saw a Rembrandt at a museum and it looked like a photo! However, I soon learned about the impressionists and learned to appreciate them, too. Again, it’s like music. I like pop, country, classical, blues — all kinds of music. I like all kinds of art as well.

What about Florida inspires you?

Having grown up in Florida I appreciate the uniqueness of the state. I can go fifty miles from my home in central Florida and see everything from oceans and beaches, to plains and bayous, to orange groves and lakes. Not to mention the flowers, birds, etc. So, there’s always something beautiful to paint.

Do you paint in a studio or “in the field?” From photos or life? Which do you prefer?

I paint in my studio 90% of the time. The sudio is about fifty yards from our house. I like to be comfortable and I can control the lighting. I think I’d like to try ‘plein air’ painting, but I can’t handle the heat. Also, the light changes rapidly and I sometimes spend a great deal of time on detail.

I usually paint from my photos. However, I often spend several hours composing my subject before I ever start painting. I might combine a prairie shot I took with a sky from another photo and an egret from another photo and a palm tree from still another photo. I use my computer to put the pieces together so that I know approximately what I’m going to paint.

You also now paint more abstract images, based on photos taken from the Hubble Telescope. What about those images interests and inspires you?

A friend of mine sent me a Hubble photo and asked if I could paint it. I had never done anything like it but it was beautiful. So, I painted a 24”x36” of the Angel Nebulae. It was a totally different kind of painting for me. I had gotten used to detail and realism and this abstract painting was just the opposite. I loved it and I’ve now done five Hubble paintings.

Do you approach painting landscapes and animals differently from your abstract work — and how?

When I do a landscape or flowers or birds I pretty much know how it’s going to look when I finish it. The great thing about the abstract work is that I can make changes as I go along. I don’t have to make it look exactly like anything. It’s a much freer type of painting — thicker paints, bigger brushes, more movement. I love doing both and I think it keeps me from getting in a rut.

Do you have a particular process when it comes to your work? Do you paint regularly and workmanlike or do you paint in a flash of inspiration?

My wife and I usually get up around 5:30 in the morning. By 6:30 I’m in my studio. I pick up where I left off the day before. However, I’ve usually ‘painted in my head’ for a couple of hours during the night. That’s the time I come up with answers to questions about the current painting. I actually come up with techniques and things I want to try out the next day. It’s like music — I can create a song in my head and I know what I want the violins to do, I know what the bass line will be, what the piano riff will be, etc. I know what the song will sound like before I record it. That’s the way I approach my paintings.

Which is easier for you — songwriting or painting?

I guess songwriting is easier because I’ve been doing it for so long. I’ve written 700-800 songs. I’ve only done about sixty paintings. It also takes a lot longer to finish a painting than to write a song. And, they’re both rewarding because if they’re good they’ll be around long after I’m gone.

Are you still writing songs, performing or recording?

I still write songs, but not nearly as many as I used to. It gets in the way of my painting! I do five or six concerts a year. I enjoy playing the performing arts centers, casinos in Las Vegas and around the country, places like that.

Some of your paintings are also available as giclee prints. What do you like or dislike about the process?

I think giclees are great! It gives a person the chance to own a piece of art they like. The original may have already been sold. Or the original may be too expensive or it may be too large or too small for their wall. The great thing about a giclee print is you can get it the size you want and it’s obviously much less expensive than the original. And, the giclees are printed on canvas, just like the original. Also, I enhance each giclee so that each one is unique.

How did the upcoming exhibition at the Sweet Art Gallery in Naples come together? Will you be showing any brand new paintings or giclees?

Dianne and I have always loved the Naples area. We’re now in several galleries in central and northeast Florida. We looked at several galleries in Naples and liked what we saw online at The Sweet Art Gallery. It’s a huge gallery and I have some huge paintings. We drove down and met with Dede and her staff and absolutely loved them and the gallery.

I’ll be bringing anywhere from 30–40 paintings to the gallery show in November. I plan on bringing some of everything — landscapes, flowers, horses, abstracts, everything! I love to meet people and talk about my art so I’m really looking forward to the show. •

from the September-October 2009 issue

"Not knowing the rules lets you try something out of the norm. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't."

November 13
December 13
Sweet Art Gallery

Trade Center Way
November 13, 6-9pm