Delaware River School of Art

William Hobbs

William D. Hobbs, biologist, teacher and oil painter, builds his style upon the Hudson River School artists’ reverence for the natural world. He is inspired by late 19th century art and writings of Thoreau and the scientific aspect that everything in nature is worth studying. “With my training as a biologist, painting is another form of exploration. Science and art are one,” he says. The combination reveals itself in his work, where the viewer can almost feel the sunlight and moving water that is the focus of most of his paintings.

Delaware Vitality

Hobbs’s work centers upon being in a certain place in a certain moment in time. Since nature changes so quickly, he sketches in the field and finishes the piece in his studio with a slow, meticulous and detailed approach. With degrees in biology and behavioral ecology, and research in ornithology, what inspires and fascinates him most is intricate detail. “My art is a study of the interactions of the things that I love. I’m flooded with it. I can never paint fast enough,” says Hobbs, who starts maybe four or five paintings every season, but often must leave them unfinished till that season rolls around next year. Inspiration comes faster than his ability to paint, he says.

Light of Mid Morning

As a child in Clark Summit, PA, he read, drew and painted, first science fiction, then fish, birds and trees. He practically lived in trees and the woods, especially in the hemlock ravine behind his house. “We all played in the trees. They are the ‘adornment of the land.’ I’ve got to have them. I love them, particularly Eastern hemlock and American beech. Hemlock ravines draw me—the bird life has unique sound, rhododendrons.”

Years ago Hobbs did wildlife illustration and now he plans to do Eider Ducks running in the surf. Hobbs lives in Pen Argyl, PA, where he teaches biology at Bangor Area High School. He is a member of the Raptor Research Foundation. “To me the art is exploration and the process of doing it. The final painting is a permanent record of the exploration. I’m not happy with my work until I’m there.” Artist website...

Mary Jasch. Spring, 2016

The land along the Delaware River is rife with artists who portray the river and its environment in all its splendor. Here are more artists who honor this federally-designated “Scenic and Recreational River” and surrounding landscape...

This story was first published: Spring, 2016