I grew up in Platteville, Wisconsin and attended the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, where I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Comprehensive Art Education. I have a Masters of Art degree from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa in Studio Painting. I also have a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin- Madison, Madison, Wisconsin Art in 2-D, Painting and Drawing. I was the 2003 Wisconsin Art Educator of the Year. In 2001, I received the Arts and Letters Award for the College of Liberal Arts and Education at the University of Wisconsin - Platteville. I was the recipient of the James Underkofler Excellence in Teaching Award in 1999. In 2012, I was recognized with the Mazzuchelli Medallion, Edgewood College's highest honor.


Every person carries in their heart an image of their homeland. For me it is the Driftless Landscape of southwestern
Wisconsin. Since my youth I have been captivated by the rock outcroppings, woods, hills, and rivers of this land. This is the place that I feel deeply about because I know it well.

I begin most landscapes outdoors as plein air paintings.Some are completed on location,
but most are completed using photographs as reference material, at home, in my studio or
backyard. I work with oil paint outdoors and water soluble oil paint in my studio. Water
soluble oils were developed in the mid 1990's. Water soluble oil paints have been modified
to make them soluble in water, eliminating the harsh or dangerous solvents used to thin the
paint and clean brushes and palettes.

There are a number of reasons these paintings are small. One reason is that they are easier
to transport outdoors. Also, the light and weather conditions change quickly. And finally,
large paintings tend to act as a sail on windy days, so it is better to work small outdoors.

Robert Tarrell