Style & Inspiration

Bart Forbes – “Impressions of Achievement” – 1986 Sport Artist of the Year

Artist Biography | Style & Inspiration | Key Sport Works & World Influence



“I’d have to say I was most influenced by the French Impressionists,” Forbes said.1 “I don’t paint like them but I was influenced. I try to create a feel.”1 Perhaps what Forbes meant by this is that, by trying to “create a feel,” he was illuminating the sensory details of his subjects, the color, light, and so forth, not the objects themselves. Of his paintings, Forbes also said, “I don’t paint from photographs.” This reinforces the idea that, though Forbes has used photographs as a point of reference, photographs are concerned with objects, while his paintings are an illustration of their sensory details. The objects emerge from the attempt at creating feeling.

Center Court

Center Court

Though Forbes tends to stick with two or three primary colors, and works with a lot of earth tones in his paintings, with oils, he was able to experiment with form, texture, and light.

“There is really not one sport that is more difficult to capture than the rest,” he said. “But it does require more research when I work with sports I have not been involved with, such as polo.”

For the most part, after his research Forbes’ procedure included drawing three pencil sketches and a color thumbnail about an inch wide to explore the color scheme before he began painting.

Forbes was also a fan of jazz music, which he frequently represented in his paintings. The influence of jazz music, its variety and reputation for improvisation, also appear in Forbes’ artistic philosophy. He said, “I try to learn from my mistakes and improvise occasionally, inventing things and letting accidental things happen that contribute to what I do.” But, the haphazard technique the philosophy suggests is not the key to becoming a successful artist, and, according to Forbes, is not a guarantee of good art. “Being an artist isn’t as easy as it might seem,” he said.1 “It takes a lot of dedication to produce what I consider good art. You’re always striving to produce a great painting. I don’t think I’ve ever produced a great painting, but I’ve tried to. I think my best work is ahead of me. I certainly hope it is. I’m always learning and trying to grow.” The combination of creativity and solid work ethic are what made Forbes an ideal candidate for the 1986 Sport Artist of the Year. As they were for the career of Bart Forbes, hard work, creativity, and a love for sport were just a few of the building blocks for the United States Sports Academy.

image sources

  • BartForbes-feature: Bart Forbes