Robert Daughters Press
Robert Daughters in the News
Artist Robert Daughters, formerly of Taos and Santa Fe, dies
He lived practically a whole lifetime before he decided to finally settle down and paint. During a 1953 visit to Taos, Robert Daughters discovered the beauty and light of the area. He and his family finally made their move to Santa Fe in 1970, then to Taos in 1972.
His son, Ward Daughters who went to school here, said “He always missed Taos. So do I.”
Robert Daughters, 84, died Thursday (Oct. 24) in Rogers, Ark., where he and his wife, Sandra, had been living the last few years. Sandra passed away last June at age 80. His son said it was like his father was “waiting for her to go before he finally left.”
Robert Daughters was born on Feb. 17, 1929 and raised in St. Joseph, Mo., by his father Don and mother Ona Daughters.
Robert joined the Army in 1948 to serve in the Korean War, but was instead sent to Germany and served for two years in the occupational effort, according to the obituary provided by Stockdale Funeral Service in Rogers. He was discharged in 1950, achieving the rank of corporal.
Robert graduated from Central high school in St. Joseph in 1947. After high school and his military service he attended Kansas City Art Institute and School of Design in Kansas City, Missouri, where he received a Bachelors Degree in Fine Art.
Before he discovered Taos, he became a partner in a highly successful advertising art studio in Kansas City, Mo. During those 17 years, he won numerous awards from the National Society of Art Directors, the Artist Guide, paper companies and other organizations in like fields.
For 20 years, the Daughters family lived in the O.E. Berninghaus home and studio in Taos, certainly a place of local distinction but also of inspiration as well. In 1993, Southwest Art Magazine called Daughters “a tireless, compulsive painter, he has produced countless representations of the Southwest in all of its magnificence. His style is characterized by dark outlines and short discrete brush strokes that catch color and movement of his subjects with vivid flourish. And above all he conveys a sense of the regions brilliant light.”
In his later years, much of the artist’s time was spent in his homes in Santa Fe and Arkansas. He and Sandra were happily married for 60 years. He and Sandra enjoyed diverse interests during their life together; he became a pilot and took the family on many trips.
Later in their life, they traveled, saw the globe and enjoyed entertaining in their homes.
Robert also received many awards and accomplishments for his work; one of his proudest was being named the recipiant of the 2004 Master’s of the Southwest Award from Phoenix Home and Garden Magazine and was featured in the March 2004 issue. In that same year he was also named in Southwest Art Magazine’s 30th Anniversary issue and he is listed in Who’s Who in American Art. Robert Daughters has enjoyed a long and distinguished career. For over 30 years he celebrated the landscapes and cultures of the Southwest in his expressive paintings.
Robert was preceded in death by his wife Sandra, and his daughter Nancy in 2011. He is survived by his son Ward Daughters and wife Gigi, daughter Lynn Daughters, and son- in-law Andreas Daddio, along with many other family and extended family members.
Striking the Right Note:
The Well-Made Life of Cover Artist Robert Daughters
Spend any time gallery hopping in Santa Fe and Taos, and you might get the idea that artists are as plentiful here as the native piñon trees. This area of New Mexico has held a special position in American art for over a century, attracting creative spirits from around the world. Many are captivated by the extraordinary quality of light, but even more are drawn to an unfettered quality of life.
Amid this concentration of talent, Robert Daughters is recognized as one of the Southwest’s masters. Yet he began his days far away from this high desert country, achieving prominence as a commercial artist in the Midwest. Born in 1929 in Trenton, MO, and raised in St. Joseph, he followed his years of military service with study at the Kansas City Arts Institute and School of Design.
At school he met his future wife, Sandra, who was studying fashion art. Upon their marriage in 1953, they spent their honeymoon in Taos, where a friend of his wife’s family, Oscar E. Berninghaus, had been a founding member of its art colony. Arriving at what was then a remote outpost, the young couple was greeted by Oscar’s son Charles, who was himself a rather flamboyant character. Told by an uncle that Taos was the place for an artist, Daughters fell in love with the primitive romance of this tri-ethnic community.
Yet he returned to Kansas City, where he built a nationally recognized advertising studio with a client list which included Lee Jeans and Parker pens. Having risen to the top of his game, Daughters, at the age of 41, walked away from his success and moved to Santa Fe. Then two years later he fulfilled the ultimate fantasy: settling in Taos in none other than the Oscar E. Berninghaus house.
Redefining himself in his new surroundings, Daughter’s transition to fine art was challenging. Instead of a client’s whim or the fashion of the day, he studied traditional artists and painted in a somewhat academic manner. The pivotal point came when he embraced an impressionistic style and abandoned contrived subject matter for more familiar scenes.
The work that followed was linked with that of other artists who were painting outdoors, or plein air. Known as the Taos 6, the band of painters worked in a land somewhat rougher than their 19th-century French counterparts, judging from Daughters’ account of hearing “the crack of a rifle” while going about his business. Although jealousy within the group led to its demise, the Taos 6 preserved the unrivaled position of this provincial center as a major artistic force.
Daughters then developed an aesthetic influenced by Post-Impressionist artists, especially Van Gogh and Bernard. Responding to the intense, pure expression of medieval decorative arts, these men concentrated form into blocks of jewel-like color — often outlined in black. This technique, referred to as cloisonnism, lent to Daughters’ painting a new simplicity and luminosity equal to his vision of the Southwest.
Like the Post-Impressionists, Daughters finds an affinity between painting and music in the structured arrangement of tone. Calling this approach “composist,” he intuitively seeks relationships of color and form that adds interest yet is balanced, striking the right note so to speak. Music is a constant companion; and while traveling through the New Mexico countryside, the view will be scored by the melodies of Mozart or Jimmy Buffet.
The cover painting, La Cienega Road (2003, 20” x 24”, oil) depicts the edge of a little village southwest of Santa Fe along the Santa Fe River. The central focus is a large cottonwood tree. The left side of its canopies falls on the center line of the composition, but the mass of the golden yellow ball falls to the right. As a counterweight, Daughter places a house on the hill, to which your eye is drawn. The house is framed by the dark blue mountain in the background, which is offset by the pink road at the lower right.
Daughters indicates that the canvas started out dark. The early morning light, favored by the artist, casts long dark shadows that seem to ooze through the scene. Then in brightening the composition, he added touches of red, most notably in the orange highlights and the swath of road that invites you in. Believing in “beautiful accidents,” Daughters adds the sheer delight of a little green tree, like a single voice rising above a chorus of bass and tenors.
Creating a dynamic space, shadows cast by the cottonwood and green trees form a diagonal axis with a trajectory towards the distant house. The moorings of the composition are enlivened by Daughter’s vivacious brushwork, such that the very ground seems to ripple. The painted spikes representing a rustic fence almost undulate, and the sky above shifts and dances with the cottonwood canopy.
Even though Daughters has a relaxed, easy-going manner, his life has been nomadic. He and his wife have owned, finished, and sold 26 houses. Previously the couple have spent part of the year at their homes in the Catalina foothills of Tucson, AZ, and by the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, a residence which has a special spot in the artist’s heart. Now they live only at their Santa Fe home, which they share with 3 cats, but continue to travel to far-off places.
Last year Daughters and his wife celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Her primary creative outlet is decorating their house, but she also contributes to her husband’s work by weighing in on his paintings. Together they enjoy a circle of friends that aren’t artists and the visits of their 3 adult children.
Daughters has discovered that to make satisfying art you “don’t have to kill yourself.” Drawn to those activities that “might be fun,” he has managed to dominate his field as one of the top sellers on Santa Fe’s street of galleries, Canyon Road. His brightly-colored prints have a popular following; and when Southwest Art Magazine recently marked their 30th anniversary, they chose Daughters for their cover.
Robert Daughters | 30 Years of Southwest Art
By: Gussie Fauntleroy | April 15, 2005
Robert Daughters has given Southwest Art the scoop on his true identity. For the first time he reveals that he was born with a different name and has two official birth certificates. The rest of Daughters’ story is well known to the artist’s enthusiastic collectors and to Southwest Art readers, who first encountered the landscape painter’s distinctive, expressive style in these pages in 1980, shortly before his work was exhibited in Beijing, China. The Southwest has been his inspiration now for more than 30 years.
Born: Trenton, MO, 1929. My name was Robert Warner. My mother died at my birth and my father’s sister and her husband adopted me, changed my name to Robert Daughters, and took me to Wichita, KS.
Resides: Tucson, AZ.
Art education: Four years at the Kansas City Art Institute, 20 years in commercial art, and I’m still learning.
Proudest accomplishment: Solving problems related to a painting. Also, the fact that I am still enthusiastic about working.
Biggest influence: I have been influenced over the years by collective artists more than any single artist. I am also constantly changing my opinions about what I like.
Favorite piece: My next painting! I always think the next one will be better.
Major turning points: Making the transition from commercial to fine art; moving to the Southwest; being a member of the Taos Six; and most of all, persistent, hard work.
How the art market has changed: The market is much broader and more competitive. The number of artists has greatly increased, but I believe competition is good for the industry.
What would you be if you weren’t an artist? Let’s see! I turned a tractor over, I crashed an airplane, I almost sunk my fishing cruiser in Mexico, and my golf is lousy—so I’d probably be one of the homeless.
Other interests: My wife and I love to take cruises to many different places, and we like golf, our animals, and our children.