Lawton Man Recognized for Paintings

LAWTON Okla_ A local artist is rising to international fame, after painting professionally for just eight months.

32-year-old Robert Peterson, a Goodyear employee, has been sketching his entire life. He sketched a portrait for his first celebrity in February of last year. As his sketches became more popular, prospective high-profile clients were asking for paintings. He said he didn't even considered painting until a recent health scare inspired him to use his work to leave something for his family.

Peterson had to undergo hip replacement surgery last year, and doctors told him he may not survive. So, he decided to use his extraordinary talent to sell his paintings, and leave a nest egg for his family.

It wasn't until after the successful surgery that word about his talent really spread. In fact, he just had a successful art show in New York last week. Just to give you an idea, Peterson gets offers for his paintings for anywhere from $3,500 to $25,000.

Robert Peterson said he didn't have "great expectations" when he first started painting, but after his fourth painting, things started to click.

"My fourth one was a Mike Tyson," Peterson said. "I posted it on my Instagram, my Facebook and my Twitter. An actor, Idris Elba, he picked up on it and purchased it. We shipped it to California. I had to borrow money from my wife to ship it, because I was broke."

Before long, requests for his pieces came pouring in.

"I sold a painting to a guy in Dubai," Peterson said. "That's when I was like, 'Okay, this is big. I can actually do something with this.' Then came Australia and London and Canada."

Peterson said he lets himself go while he's painting, allowing only his thoughts and music to guide him. He likes to work alone.

"I try to connect to the canvas and the picture," Peterson said. "I want to bring life to the canvas. I want people to see how I see it in my head. I want it to be full of color. I don't want it to be too natural. I want it to be different, alive, something that captures your attention."

Peterson said he'll never forget when Robert l. Sparks, who discovered Andy Warhol, purchased four of his paintings at a recent show. For a man who seems to have the world on a string, it's the simplest things in life that he cherishes the most.

"R.I. Sparks and everybody else has shown interest in my work," Peterson said. "That's amazing. I am humbled and blessed by it, but when your kids come through and they're super proud… if my kids see me as a success, then I am, because success starts at home."

Peterson said he was invited to an exhibit by Campbell's Soup. The company will be pulling some of Andy Warhol's iconic Campbell's Soup can paintings from their archives. Peterson said his rendition of the painting will be in the show.