There’s a good chance you know Robert Carver’s work.
The Wichita artist painted full time for 40 years, specializing in Western scenes and portraits. He built a regional reputation, selling scores of pieces and was able to support himself in a notoriously difficult profession.
He loved to paint and was good at it.
“He was true to his craft,” said friend and artist Brooke Lyman. “He painted every … day. This guy lived to paint. Where I might do two paintings a month, he would do two pieces a week.”
Mr. Carver worked and showed his work right up until he died Aug. 27 at age 72. He had a show at the Plains Indian and Pioneers Museum’s art gallery in Woodward, Okla., through August. Some of his work will be shown at the Andover Public Library in November.
As a young man in El Dorado, he painted signs and pin-striped vehicles. When he moved to Wichita, he studied graphic design and studio art at what is now Wichita State University. He became an aircraft mechanic, inspector, aircraft supervisor, technical writer and illustrator in the aircraft industry.
But his passion for his art led him to take a chance on painting full time in 1972. He painted in watercolors most of his career but more recently changed to oils.
He earned numerous awards for his work at shows across the region.
Mr. Carver was not just creative professionally, he had an almost stereotypical artistic personality, say his friends.
He didn’t always care about his stuff – other than his work, Lyman said.
“Paint was on everything,” he said. “He’d get a brand new pair of Dockers and two days later there would be paint on them.”
And he was forgetful, said his son Ryan DeLeon.
“If I didn’t call him, it might be a month before I heard from him,” he said.
To compensate, Mr. Carver made lists to remind himself. And those lists were everywhere, DeLeon said. He even made fun of himself by incorporating one into a painting alongside a pistol and other Old West gear.
He had plenty of friends and bad habits, said his longtime friend Clarence Bahruth, and he was comfortable with how he had lived his life.
“Bob was kind of a free soul,” Bahruth said. “He did what he wanted and that was it. He told me several times: you only go around once.”
A graveside service will be held at Sunset Lawn Cemetery in El Dorado at 1 p.m. Sunday, followed by a gathering of family and friends at the El Dorado Senior Center.
Mr. Carver is survived by his brother, Fred Carver, of Kansas; sons, Robert Carver of Texas, Vince Carver of Florida, and Ryan DeLeon of Kansas, and their families, including a niece and nephew and four grandchildren; and six half-brothers and sisters and their families.