Robert Nickle, a 1962 graduate of the Philadelphia Museum College of Art, has always gravitated toward the medium of watercolor. Perhaps this is because of the profound influence of his professor, William E.Heitland, who tutored Bob privately for two years. Others he has studied with include national award winning water colorists, Phillip Jamison and Rea Redifer.
The first 20 post-college years Bob spent trying to pay bills and educate his three children. His early art career included exhibiting in juried shows in Philadelphia, New York and Wilmington, Delaware and a two man show (his first) in West Chester, Pennsylvania. After four years as an illustrator for Boeing-Vertol Division, he left the art world for the business world. Thirty-one years later, as a Stockbroker with Morgan Stanley , Mr. Nickle retired as a Vice-President and former Branch Manager in March of 2002.
Until 1986, Bob considered his painting to be more of a hobby than an avocation. But in that summer, he began to paint seriously again, not as an outlet for the pressure brought from managing other people's assets, but to make a statement about what he saw going on around him - what Bob calls the "Vanishing American Heritage".
"There is a beauty I see in the architecture of old, a character and charm in things handmade of basic materials. There was care and pride of workmanship where cost and time were secondary to aesthetics and quality. It seemed that the old barns and homes made of stone and wood with striking gables and ornate trim are being replaced by metal buildings with little charm. As Frederick Remmington and Charles Miriam Russell hurried to record the vanishing American Wild West , I wanted to capture the beauty of our area's vanishing landscapes."
In December 1993, Bob held his first one man exhibit in 28 years, in Wilmington. The response was so encouraging he decided to release "Blueball" as his first limited edition print. A second print, "After The Storm" was released at the Hockessin Art Festival as part of being named "Artist of the Year" for 1995.
As Bob puts it, "It has always been my desire not just to cause people to see beauty in old things, things which we might pass by every day, but to prompt us to stop, "smell the roses", and discover from where the beauty comes." Often this finds him taking unusual perspectives that cause us to see something fresh in otherwise familiar subjects. "I've waded into the water to look back at an historic building from a perspective no one has painted before. I've walked up old railroad tracks to paint a charming station from an angle passers-by would not see and I've waited for the sun to rise while standing in the marsh to catch a moment of beauty that few ever get to witness. Hopefully, I am not just painting a landscape, but offering the viewer the chance to experience a special moment."
Recently, Bob was commissioned to paint several historical buildings on the Wilmington landscape. The"Daniel L. Herrmann Courthouse" could be considered to be "Motif One" among the popular sites of Delaware. No doubt that is why there are only a few of the 500 limited edition prints still available. The Wilmington train station is a close second, or perhaps even first. In his painting, "First Arrival", he commemorated the celebration of the station's 100th anniversary in 2007, with a replica of a 1907 steam locomotive steaming up to the loading platform. The 100-print edition was all but sold out in a few months.
Several prints and his own line of note cards allow Bob to share his views of the world with a style he prefers to call "representational." Besides doing a good bit of commission painting, you may have seen his paintings in galleries on Martha's Vineyard, in Massachusetts in several Wilmington, Delaware area and Berlin and Ocean City, Maryland galleries.