Kuhn, Bob

Born in Buffalo, NY, Bob Kuhn lived near the zoo as a child. Even then, he loved to draw animals. Once he was old enough to read, he collected magazines featuring the work of two of his favorite illustrators. At the age of 16, Kuhn met one of his idols, illustrator Paul Bransom, who offered this advice to the young artist: “Keep going to the zoo and keep drawing. When you look at an animal, look at it as though you may never see it again. Learn everything you can about it.”  Kuhn attended Pratt Institute. After graduating, he married and worked as an illustrator in New York doing assignments for outdoor magazines. During World War II, having been classified 4-F, he joined the Merchant Marine. After the war, he illustrated for numerous national magazines. In 1956, an editor asked Kuhn to accompany him to Africa, and it marked a turning point in his life, as would later become evident in his easel paintings. The patterns of the animals and the color-splashed landscape of Africa intrigued him, moving him to capture its very essence and mood.  Kuhn does not usually make a preliminary color sketch; instead he does only the roughest of pencil sketches. Often, he allows evidence of the underlying drawing to show on the finished piece. “I leave it in deliberately,” he says. “It gives the painting a sense of time and evolution. I think that the realism of a painting is honored in the occasional breach. It’s the little glitch that often gives life to a piece of work....something that surprises.”
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