A local artist has created a colorful, fanciful world with his art. This newly released series created by Robert Webb is a study in whimsical architecture done in pen and wash. Webb, who was previously known for his graphic, superhero paintings, started this series approximately four years ago and Gallery 27 recently opened a showing of it.
“I hadn’t really been pushing it as showcase material,” Webb said. “I knew in the beginning that I was going to be making a collection out of it. I did most of the work while I was traveling.”
Some of the pieces were penned in different states during Webb’s travels. He’d go into a coffee shop and sit for hours waiting for his next client or job he was going to do and brainstorm.
“In my travels, I got to see a lot of themes that inspired me to create these images,” he said. “As a matter of fact, today I saw something that inspired me to do a new piece, a dragon skull in a book. It dawned on me to build a city around the skeleton of a dragon who had fallen a long time ago. You never know when those inspirations will kick in.”
A portion of the series has also been made into a coloring book. When Webb told a friend he was visiting in Texas, the friend suggested that he create a coloring book and Webb took him seriously. From that point forward, Webb would photograph all of his pieces after they were penned and saved them until the collection built.
Webb has created, to date, 32 images in this series and he narrowed it down to 13 to be included in the coloring book. Two more volumes of coloring books will be released over the next couple of years.
There were 19 images in the show, which is still on display at Gallery 27. One of the first pieces that Webb did is called the “Fantastical, Mystical Castle Boat of the Earl of Whimsy.” All of the different ways that a boat could be propelled are utilized in this creation, topped with a castle with an observatory with a telescope.
“It’s driven by sail, outboard motor and an airplane prop,” Webb said. “I imagined that on his travels, the Earl of Whimsy would like to every now and then gaze at the stars. It seemed sort of fitting to have an observatory on a boat because they used to sail by star charts.”
Some of the paintings have Lincolnton references. In the “East Linda Tea Company,” the structure is built on top of a double-decker bus, contains Fausto Coffee.
The fourth piece in the series is called “Augwë’s Hangout” which is located under the sea. Interestingly, few of Webb’s pieces contain living beings. When he was in high school, he wanted to become an architect and, in this series, Webb’s inner architect has come out.
Born in Alabama, Webb and his family moved to South Carolina and then to Morganton, where he lived until he graduated from high school. After graduation, he entered the U.S. Navy, and once his service was over, he worked with the Burke County public school system as a sign language facilitator. He worked for approximately a year as an inspector for Subway restaurants, but admits he didn’t care for that job, so he purchased a cheerleading gym. Webb cheered while he was in high school. This started his long-term career as a cheerleader trainer, something he still does today over the summer. He returned to education six years ago at Cherryville High School working as an interim teacher. He was hired full-time by Cherryville last year and now works as a remediation specialist helping students stay on track to graduation.
“When you look at the superhero art I was doing, it’s inspired by the people who created them,” Webb said. “I guess when I paint superheroes, I’m painting someone else’s idea in my style or version. With the paintings that I have now, they live in my mind only.”
There are only a few original paintings in this series left available for sale at Gallery 27. Smaller-sized prints, the coloring book and notecards are also for sale. The notecards are also for sale at Fausto Coffee and the coloring book can be purchased on Etsy by searching for WebbStudioImages. Gallery 27 is located at 808 West Highway 27 in Lincolnton. For more information, call (704) 240-9060.