North Carolinian Bob Timberlake became a professional artist in 1970, encouraged by painter Andrew Wyeth.
North Carolinian Bob Timberlake became a professional artist in 1970, encouraged by painter Andrew Wyeth. Since then he has been honored by two U.S. presidents, received the American Forestry Award and the North Carolina Public Service Award, designed four U.S. postage stamps, published seven books and created furniture and home designs.
Small measures of hope. Since I was a small child, on trips to the mountains with my family, collecting tiny, touristy canoes and twig furniture (anything mountain or Appalachian), I have been fascinated with the mountains, their crafts and their people.
The same as some places on our coast, the mountain folk are different in their distinctive way. In my early years (’30s and ’40s) I thought I was really in the backwoods, on the edge of the wilderness where I imagined Daniel Boone trekked through the woods hunting “bar.” It was cool and seemed far away from the crowds.
I’ve always kept that childlike feeling for our mountains and try to share in my paintings and words, the love and feelings I have for them, their people and their places. (The names are so intriguing: Banner Elk, Elk River, Elk Crossing… can you imagine that elk once roamed there?)
Windows to the past are windows to the future. I hope to show their tough, simple, self-sustaining lives as a window to our past, to remind us again of how it was and where we came from. Those smells of a fire, fresh split lighter-wood, drying apples and pears, honey, wet woods-moss and mountain air always have and always will bring me fond memories and conjure up memories I’ve yet to have.
The trees and rocks even fascinate me. I once painted an oak tree growing from the middle of a large split boulder in a field, thinking all the time that here, years ago, an acorn fell in the crack of this rock which was larger than a Volkswagen. It sprouted, grew with a little sun and rain, split and moved this massive rock right down the middle.
On modern-day Highway 105 out of Boone, N.C., heading toward Grandfather Mountain, there is a tree that has an S-hook bend in it. I am told the Indians marked paths by lashing saplings down to the ground, and have dreamed if this was how the tree was formed. I did a painting of the tree with its surrounding field and “Burly Barn” entitled “Near Grandfather.”
The honesty of winter. Everyone who knows me knows that I love snow, cold weather and the scenes in our mountains that are created differently every time it snows. I have to be out in it, walking, looking and listening to the muffled sounds of the blanketed world. You can see the very innards of the landscape: the bones of the woods when it snows… the fallen trees, a fox, old logging trails.
When I’m doing a painting, it’s like being there; it’s like reading the best book you ever read and not wanting it to end… like writing and illustrating the book all at the same time. It’s like creating a visual memory!
Art = love. Someone once said: “A love unexpressed is no love at all, it’s only an illusion.” It’s expressing a love for something, an area of our country that is so very special to me.
We are, each one of us, stewards of the land, and the mountains of the Blue Ridge are our gift, to enjoy and to help preserve. As the hollows and ridgelines become more densely populated with a new generation of mountaineers and visitors, my hope is that we can maintain the wonderful heritage of those hardy folks who first called the mountains home.