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Robert Burridge Studio

In love, With Art by Craig Shafer

In love, With Art

Creative couples find art close to their hearts

by Craig Shafer

...Another pair of Valentines works as a team, but approaches art from different sides: She's the business head. He's the artist.

Bob and Kate Burridge's symbiotic relationship nurtures their love of life, which manifests in the vivid paintings that she works tirelessly to keep stocked in galleries. Kate also tracks a rigorous schedule for Bob's classes and all the workshops that they collectively teach. Surrounded by so much art and creativity, Kate claims to have no interest in dipping a brush in pigment. However, when pressed, she expressed a desire to someday dabble in textiles. She said she's at the stage of "percolating" on the idea, but for now she's satisfied with working behind the scenes, running the business full time—except for when they do their tag-team workshop, which Kate likened to a form of performance art.

Cross my art:
He's artistic with a paintbrush. She's artistic when it comes to marketing. Bob and Kate Burridge are building a worldwide art empire from their Central Coast home.

To keep up with a grueling cross-country travel schedule—and trips to Europe—Bob paints in his Arroyo Grande studio with a sense of urgency.

"I've always worked fast," he said. "And as opposed to working on one painting a week, I'll work on 20 paintings a week. And whatever comes out on top at the end of the week, that's what goes to the galleries. And the rest of the stuff are pieces that got me to those other pieces, and I'll work on them next week.

"If it doesn't go in [the right] direction, I kind of laugh at it as a cosmic joke," he continued. "It's pretty humbling. You work on a piece, and it's just not happening. There are just some pieces that have a black cloud over them."

While Bob searches for silver linings, Kate's busy making deals and moving a line of products, including DVDs. Bob marvels at her creativity behind the scenes. "One way of showing my appreciation is getting up early and [making] Kate a latte," he said. "We open up our day timers, and she hands me her honey-do list, and I go down in the studio."

"Part of my job is I make the everyday liaison contact with the galleries who tell me what they want," Kate said.

A Burridge painting is a reflection of the good life: Bright colors and broad brushstrokes form wine bottles and cheeses. Once introduced to the striking form, it's hard to not recognize a Burridge creation.

Despite his work's obvious and easy recognizability, Burridge claims that he's constantly reinventing himself to keep from falling into a state of boredom. That ever-present challenge has taken the painter in a new direction, one that incorporates iconic images with a more abstract, ethereal mood. Bob said that the style could be described as neoexpressionism.

"'Emerged in 1970. Dissatisfaction with minimalism, conceptual art, and international style. It's more of a cerebral approach to figuration, subjectivity,'" Bob said, reading from a sheet from his day timer. "I looked at my whole body of work, and I said, 'Oh my gosh! That's exactly it.'"

Through the emerging process, the couple works as a unit to bring about art that's clearly the love of their lives.

"I have a good support system," Bob proclaimed. "I would not be here without Kate, and the world knows this too. And she works every day, smiling. It blows me away." "The neat part about what we're doing now with the marketing class," Kate said, "is we're getting scheduled all around the country. But we don't always agree when we get questions from people. And Bob might have an answer and I'll say, 'Well, from a marketing standpoint ."

The team has branched out to the East Coast and is now focusing on the European market. Their schedule will soon take them to a two-week workshop in a French castle, and they're booking workshops on cruise ships.

"One area that we do want to do—this is on my hot list—is the inspirational speakers' events," Kate said.

Bob added that the activity wouldn't just be for painters. He envisions a creative-problem-solving talk that's not too far from what he already teaches about moving beyond fear and encouraging people to follow their own bliss—and the Burridges are the perfect role models for any couples working on that track.

February 9, 2006
Craig Shafer
Arts Editor
The Santa Maria Sun
3130 Skyway Drive #603
Santa Maria , CA 93455
Copyright 2006 New Times Media Group.

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