The Beginning, 1943
1943, I was born... in a small farm community near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I spent my childhood with both parents and four brothers. I was the middle child. My farm chores consisted of the usual daily stuff for kids: Feed the 500 chickens, ride the two pigs, pet the cows, pick the corn, dig the potatoes, plant the garden and put on magic shows.
As a kid, I also taught myself "entertainment skills" - juggling, magic, ventriloquism, circus acrobatics and trapeze show-off stuff. I performed one-man circus shows inside our huge wood barn. It had dirt floors, loose slats, large beam rafters and plenty of pigeons in the eaves. From these rafters I suspended my circus bike and performed goofy stunts while it was on fire. (I'm not making this up!)
My first artwork was making circus posters announcing my shows.
By the sixth grade, I entered my first art competition with a "Hire the Handicapped" poster. I won a certificate and the cash prize of... one dollar.
Industrial Designer, 1966-1985
All Grown Up
I graduated from the University of the Arts (formerly Philadelphia College of Art) with a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Design and a minor in Fine Art Painting. As a designer, I got the opportunity to create and invent new products for Litton Industries (the first production electronic cash register and bar code scanner for retail and food stores), Becton-Dickinson (medical, surgical and biomechanical devices) and as the Principal Designer for Westinghouse Electronic Corporation, I produced product designs for 15 Divisions, receiving the Grand Industrial Design Award of the Year in 1976 for a Power Circuit Breaker, an Uninterruptible Power System, an Advanced Nuclear Control room consoles and Industrial Control switches.
And finally, as an independent design consultant living in Santa Barbara, California, I invented new wheelchairs for the severely disabled, designed the first digital sound editing consoles for a Hollywood sound studio to edit the blockbuster movie, "Stars Wars" and created the electronic circuit breaker featured in the movie "Jurassic Park."
My other product designs include a kitchen line for Corning Glass, a hands-free automatic soap dispenser and hand dryer for public rest rooms, surgically implanted body parts, custom wheelchairs for Cerebral Palsied children, brain surgical drills as well as a few whimsical products like tubular fabric lights, desk accessories and Teva Sandals, to name a few.
At this time I held the honored position as Consultant to the President's Committee for the Handicapped, Adjunct Professor of Design at Cooper Union Art College, New York, the Visiting Critic Advisor for photography at Harvard University and finally, CEO and Design Principal of my own advertising and design agency, which was rated as Fortune's Top, Fastest Growing Companies in 1984. I was elected into the Human Factors Society and the International Council of Color Consultants. I hold 23 design, mechanical and chemical patents.
During all this time, however, at night and on weekends,I turned into another person-- a painter. Eventually my ever longing passion to invent new paintings consumed me.
Painter, 1985 - Present
The Kid... again
In 1985, I turned my passion into my second career. I retired from industrial design and became a full time, contemporary fine art painter, moved to California's Central Coast and prepared to paint the rest of my life. Today, besides painting, I am an invited juror for international art shows, a college and national painting workshop instructor, and teach a fine art mentor program in central France. Recently selected as the Honorary President of the International Society of Acrylic Painters, I hold a signature membership with them and with the Philadelphia Watercolor Society.
My original paintings can be seen in six international galleries, on Starbucks Coffee mugs, Pearl Vodka bottles, eight tapestries and on fine art edition prints in upscale retail stores and cruise ships.
My work has received lifetime honors, including The Franklin Mint Award and recently the Philadelphia Watercolor Society's prestigious Crest Medal Award for achievement in the arts previously awarded to Pablo Picasso, John Singer Sargent and Georgia O'Keeffe.
It is said, "Your heart doesn't know how old you are." For me, it's true. Painting everyday in my small studio overlooking the Pacific Ocean, I feel like a kid again playing with color, design, paint and canvas, which reminds me of the saying, "It's never too late to be what you always should have been." Follow your bliss!
Inspirational, The Present Continues...
Robert Burridge teaches a variety of painting workshops to professional and emerging painters throughout the United States, Mexico and France. His workshops have historically changed artists' lives forever.
Daily, he receives letters and emails from artists who have attended his classes and whose careers have taken off in new and productive directions.
Robert Burridge has been selected to jury new emerging painters as well as professional painters into national and international competitions.
• Waterloo Watercolor Group, Austin, TX, Annual Members Show
• International Society of Acrylic Painters, Annual International Exhibit, Seattle, WA
• Annual Members Show, Mendocino Art Center, CA
• Annual Members Show, Paso Robles Art Association, CA
• National Plein Air Festival, sponsored by the San Luis Obispo Art Center, San Luis Obispo, CA
• Buenaventura Art Association, Ventura, CA
• S.C.A.P.E., Annual Exhibit, Santa Barbara, CA
• Annual Members Show, Lompoc Valley Art Association, CA
• "Un Ange Passe," regional show, Westmont College, Santa Barbara, CA
• Coachella Valley Art Association Annual Show, Palm Desert, CA
• Brushes & Blues Festival, Lompoc, CA
• Art Calendar Magazine, Los Angeles Art Expo exhibit
• Amsterdam Art's International Competition & Exhibition
• California Mid-State Fair, Paso Robles, CA
• Santa Barbara Artwalk, Museum of Natural History, Santa Barbara, CA
• Sausalito Art Festival, Sausalito, CA
Robert Burridge is an energetic, passionate speaker and motivator for anyone who wants to be a winner. Using real-life examples and his famous tell-it-like-it-is style, attendees proclaim a renewed vigor and a clearer sense of purpose in their artistic lives.
On a local level, he also volunteers his time teaching art to school children with learning challenges. And, at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, Burridge paints with and creatively supports terminally ill children whose artwork now hangs in galleries.
Robert Burridge has written and published two artist books: Loosen Up Studio Workbook and Art Marketing: The Business of Selling Your Art. Plus he produced and starred in five teaching videos and DVDs. His wife, career manager and best friend, Kate, co-produced all of the above. He is also a contributing writer for Art Calendar magazine and has written features for various magazines, periodicals and newsletters.