Sports Artist Dave Hobrecht
When did you first think about art as something you wanted to do? Were you encouraged or discouraged by family, friends, teachers, mentors?
I grew up drawing. I was a bit of an over energized kid. A pencil and paper was the only way my mom got some rest during the day! It’s just something I did ever since I can remember. My parents were very encouraging. My mom would take me to the art supply store anytime I wanted and I could buy anything. She wasn’t that way about everything……I asked and never got a set of Drums!!! Ha! …….but art supplies…..I could have anything.
On the other hand when I decided I wanted to be an artist full time…..I had a lot less encouragement and tons of people advising me to not go in to the art world.
I went to USC and majored in Business. After school I was supposed to work for my parents company. Although I loved the Automotive industry..it just wasn’t me. So with no experience and a wife and three kids…..I quit my job and went into art…100%!!! Like I said most thought I was crazy… expect my Mom and Dad…they said to go for it. My Mom told me it was what I was meant to do!
What kind of kid were you? Where did you grow up? What were your influences?
I was a pretty good kid. Growing up all I wanted was baseball cards an art supplies when I was really young. When I go into late elementary and junior high…it switched to surf, baseball and art… studying wasn’t one of my hobbies!! Sports was an influence on me at a very young age. I loved the team aspect. Hanging with your friends…playing all sorts of sports and games. I had an incredible group of friends…so we were outside from morning until the street lights came on and we had to be home! It was non-stop. Huntington Beach was an outstanding place to grow up…tons of things to do… and everything was a quick bike ride away.
Your style is very unique. Did you work on developing a style or is that what naturally came out of you?
I didn’t go to art school…..so all my training came from trial and error. I swear…I learned so much at my local art supply store. I would hang there and just ask the staff what they used…why and what went with what. I found myself mixing all sorts of items to find my style. My first painting of a wave was done in Charcoal, Pastel, Acrylic, oil pastel, gouache, even some white out! I was just throwing things on a canvas to see what worked.
Eventually….I found I loved the feel of charcoal …..but didn’t love the sandy final look. That’s when I started using a lot of charcoal and brick pastels mixed together. I started grinding them up in to dust form….mixing them together and creating a great combo that allowed me to blend and fade nicely. It was a nice was to get soft blends that could be textured later. That’s the basics on how my style and technique came in to play!
Your work is mainly sports art. How did that happen?
I love sports…the competitiveness, the social aspect, the speed and action. I just love it. Before I was producing art as a job and for others….I was just painting for me!! So why not paint what you love…what you would hang in your own house!! That’s what I did. When I decided to paint for a living…painting what you truly love helps sell it. When an artist is into his work...it makes it easy to talk with clients that have similar interests! Talking with sports fans is easy…and fun for me. It also makes it easy to show my work within the sports industry. Think about it….how could I sell a painting of landscapes or topics that have no influence on me…..it would be difficult. It wouldn’t be honest…
Has the advent of the computer affected your work? Do you work traditionally and digitally?
It helps…..but only for research or reference. I try to stay old school. I start by making my own canvases. Right now I’m into painting on hot pressed watercolor paper. So I start by gluing the paper to smooth wood. I do zero of my art digitally….and never will. I like process of producing art with my hands. It’s like asking a woodworker to make a chair with a 3D printer…no thanks!
On the print production side….I love the advancements. I print all my own work and love my Epson! ……but when it comes to originals…..I will stay traditional.
I’m fascinated by the size of your art. Why do you work so large and why in black and white?.
My newest piece I just completed the other day is for a series on the Dodgers. It’s a real exciting program I have put together. The first painting was 4 feet x 8 feet! The smallest in the 12 piece series will be 42”x 65”!!!
I love painting large. With my application method….it is difficult to paint small and get the details I want. I just don’t think my smaller pieces come out as well!??...just my opinion.
Regarding the B&W…..I love the look. It works for my subjects. For example….if I painting Derek Jeter and Babe Ruth together in black and white….they match! It feels right….even though Babe is 79 years older than Derek!!
You and I are big sports fans, is there any sport in particular you like best? What’s the most challenging sports to depict?
Baseball is my all time favorite. It also the easiest to paint! I love to surf…and I enjoy painting it...but painting realistic water is so difficult and seriously drives me nuts. It never feels finished and I can always see mistakes and blems. No one else can…..but I can. Lately I have been painting a lot of Golf with Travis Mathew and am enjoying it. They are a great company and its been helping me sharpen my background and landscape abilities.
At one point I read you started illustrating from baseball cards after an injury? What motivated that and why?
My love for the game. I had more baseball cards than a kid would know what to do with. I would organize them, stack them, trade and look at them all the time. I grew up playing and loving baseball….so they were my early subjects!
I’m curious about how you choose what to work on. What’s does your process entail? Start to finish. Can you give us a short step-by-step?
For a while I was choosing projects to help me diversify my offering. I had a ton of the major sports... but began picking up work for fishing, rock climbing, running, snowboarding, etc. I wanted to have something for most sports fans.
My wife describes my process like this...and its pretty accurate.
Lately I have been blessed with dream job projects!!! ...so baseball is back at the front on the painting line and will be on the easel for some time now. Each piece takes me from 20-150 hours plus...all depends on size a background details. I work seven days week and pretty long hours…so I can fit a decent amount of work in per month. Once I start…I cant stop. It’s like reading a good book or binge TV watching. Once I start a piece I go hard until it’s finished. Then I will take a good break. I won't start