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Connecting to the imagination through art

Color captivates Bob Oller. So do line and movement.

His eye is always poised for his next subject. His mind is usually racing, too, and sometimes, so is he. Oller recalls running alongside a highway bridge on Interstate 95 in Richmond to photograph a precise angle of the James River for the reference shots he would later use to create a painting.

“I kept on running farther up the bridge because the angle wasn’t right; the light wasn’t right,” he said. “I chase art.”

The Williamsburg, Virginia, resident grew up drawing is his western Kentucky home, but his mother considered his older brother the artist in the family. So Oller would sneak into his brother’s bedroom in search of supplies to make his own art, careful to resharpen the pencils before he returned them. During his first art class in middle school, his teacher recognized his potential. Assignments that took others a week were taking Oller a day. Taking him aside, they walked to the back of the class, and she opened a closet door to reveal a room full of art supplies and a single desk.

“She handed me a key and closed the door,” he said. “I stayed in there for a year! I realized that’s what I wanted to do.”

Oller studied graphic design at the University of Central Florida and worked in the commercial industry before forging his own path as an artist a decade ago. He exhibits at multiple shows up and down the East Coast, including the Rose Squared ones.

Oller’s eclectic portfolio contains acrylics and watercolors of natural scenes, animals, flowers, horse-drawn carriages, city streets and unique alleyways.

His newest passion, Vector paintings, combines drawing and painting, his two greatest loves. Vector art uses illustration software for algorithms to create images and illustrations. It’s complicated. The software provides an exact equation for the hand of the artist.

“Not many people are doing it because the learning curve is so huge,” Oller said. “When you use a stylus in Vector, you can’t hide. It grabs the artist’s hands truly. When you draw, it builds an equation of your hand movement and shapes. I’m building my own palate. Each painting I do has its own palate.”

Some of his work stands as tall as 30 feet, including a commissioned piece for a bishop in Cuba.

His Vector paintings contain as many as 40,000 elements, all hand drawn and assembled in a sequential order. “I love to paint, and I love to draw, and this seamlessly blends those two things together,” he said. 

The finished pieces are jaw dropping, enchanting the eye of everyone from millennials to seniors. Ultimately, Oller is hopeful that his work evokes the imagination.

“I like it to spark something that people love or remember,” he said. “Art has the opportunity to touch a spot in the memory that a lot of things can’t do. That’s what I enjoy doing.”

Find his booth at Rose Squared’s 2023 shows at Anderson Park and ????