Meet the Artist: Robert Hartshorn, Hartshorn Studios

Classical realism: Capturing the essence of a moment.

By Kelli Comer

Robert Hartshorn, owner and principal artist of Cleveland’s Hartshorn Studios, relies on a collaborative effort between the subject of his work and himself—the results observed beautifully in his portraiture and figurative paintings.

“I paint everyone from families to executives to college presidents to politicians. For all of my portraits, I am inspired by the practice of capturing a good likeness, but, more importantly, I want to visually capture the person’s personality and essence in that moment,” Robert explains about his work.

“The process is collaborative in the sense that the subject can be portrayed in many different ways, so we decide together which of the many possible looks, poses and impressions I finally do paint.”


As a fourth-generation, self-taught artist, Robert began his life with imagination and artistry in his genes. Self-expression is a tradition in his family, and most of his artistic kin are self-taught as well.

“My great-grandmother was an amazing watercolor artist. My grandfather was also, and made his living as a prominent architect. My mom is a relentless crafter. Two of my brothers are professional photographers and another is a wonderful abstract painter,” says Robert.


Robert’s focus has been on Classical Realism portrait painting for over 30 years. He mentions the paintings of Old Masters in art, such as Rembrandt, Velazquez and Hals, as the influences in his work.

“My own work has been called realistic, luminous, colorful, evocative and full of personality and movement,” Robert explains. “Even though I’ve worked in almost every possible medium, my passion is oil painting because of its flexibility in technique, luminosity and ability to allow detail and glazing.”

Robert’s work is all from his intrinsic talent, and he has no traditional schooling in art. He followed his life’s passion to become the artist and gallery owner he is now.


Before making his move to work in art full time, Robert worked at AT&T in advertising and marketing as a consultant for 20 years.

“My past career in advertising and marketing gave me a grounding in what makes art work in the marketplace and how to survive in business. Now I have the freedom through portrait painting to be a full-time working artist,” Robert smiles.

To reach Robert, you can email him at or call 216-403-2734. His work can be found at Robert Hartshorn Studio and Gallery, located at 2342 Professor Ave. in Cleveland’s Tremont Arts District. His work can also be found on his website at For regular updates and show schedules, follow Robert Hartshorn Studio & Gallery - Tremont on Facebook.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment