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Bobby Eppleman


House Self Portrait , 2016. House Self Portrait , 2022

It was dark out when left my home. I had spent the first nine years of my life living in what I saw as a paradise. One where I could step outside of my house, and still feel as comfortable as I was in my own living room. Not anymore. I remember looking out the back window of our Suburban, locking eyes with my house, forever memorizing it as it disappeared into the night. That was the last time I saw my home in Apple Valley, Minnesota. We would drive through the night and arrive in Pennsylvania later the next day.

I wasn’t too keen on leaving behind what I thought was a perfect world. Before moving, I didn’t know what anxiety was and I hardly understood what bullying looked or even felt like. The East coast taught me all about that. Trying to fit into a group of kids like the ones I fit in with in the Midwest wasn’t the same. People were guarded and competitive to the point where I couldn’t tell who was being hurtful to me and who was just playing around. My world didn’t look the same and over time I began to adopt a mindset that would ultimately hold my hope hostage.

After moving, it took me twenty years to see the world around me through a different set of lenses. I had lost my ability to hope for something better, and ever since the “Life of an Artist” chose me as its subject, my diminishing hope greatly influenced the way in which I presented my art.

I had grown into a people-pleaser and an over-achiever who very much cared about my outside appearance. This persona carried over into my artworks, in particular, my drawings and paintings of homes. Straight lines, perfect angles, and perfectly curated for the customer. It took me a long time (and I mean a long time) to realize how intertwined my art was with the way I viewed myself and the world.

After several years of presenting myself as a professional in this manner, something inside of me started to question if there was any hope for my art career. I decided to confront myself on the matter.

A typical commission-style home portrait in a style that was pleasing to others, but limiting to my own self-expression.

Evidence in my sketchbook of the artist I wanted to be.

It’s funny how things seem to change in an instant. I spent decades creating artworks that presented “the literal.”

Along the way there was evidence, particularly in my sketchbooks, of the artist you now see in front of you.

It took some brutally honest conversations with people I trusted combined with having faith in my own inner voice, to finally start doing what felt right. I eventually discovered hope for my art career because I took steps to change my circumstances.

Ironically enough, the subject matter I continue to create are of homes and neighborhoods. Through art, I learned that we can choose let our surroundings hold our mindsets hostage and just try to blend in the best we can, or; we can courageously view the world around us through a new set of lenses so that we can provide hope for ourselves and others. We have to strive to be the home where hope comes to live.

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Bobby Eppleman


A closeup of my previous work.

In September of 2021 I began to question whether or not my artwork would ever fall into a category that I could refer to as My Own Style. Sure, I had tons of architectural drawings that followed a pattern of precise line and color choices, but something inside of me always knew my true potential was being held hostage. Eventually, my inner voice began to shout at me, saying, “Enough is enough!” Over the past couple of months, I had multiple people confront me about the architecture facades I repetitively drew, indicating they were unoriginal and simply not me. Blunt, but true—It was the tough love I needed and the same honest love I received from coaches throughout my college years. All signs were pointing to a need for change, but knowing what to change was the hardest part. All I could think about was how stagnant my art business had become because of my failure to share any kind of unique creative vision.

Downtown Phoenixville- A page from one of my sketchbooks.

Luckily, my inner voice calmed down enough for me to drop my guard and we had a heart to heart. I gave in and finally began to draw in a style that felt comfortable for me. Architecture continued to be my focus, but now actually seeing the world around me in a different way. Rather than drawing in my studio, I went out on the streets of Phoenixville and drew what was around me. I took in the sights and the sounds, which helped guide my hand in all sorts of new directions on the page. Instead of drawing what I was looking at, I now drew my reaction to what I was looking at. All of my straight lines started to bend and perspectives began to change. I even went from drawing with tiny, precise, micron pens to a flowing fountain pen, which allowed me to use a greater variety of expression in my lines. I found my unique style, and in doing so, I discovered my voice.

Moon Over Phoenixville- A result of "playing around."

The answer to whether or not I had a unique style was sitting in front of me for the past six years. There were fleeting moments when I thought I might be on to something, but fear almost always took over and my old stylistic tendencies took the wheel. The only time I gave myself permission to draw in a style I now call my own is when there weren’t any outcomes associated with it.

So, basically, I was doing my most authentic work and feeling zero pressure only when I was playing around. Oh, the irony! Perhaps, the most amazing part of it is that the artworks I created during my “playtime” happened to be some of my favorites ever created. Even the people closest to me would tell me they liked those pieces more than the realistic stuff I was creating on a day-to-day basis. So, why didn’t I listen?

I’m still trying to answer the question, “Why didn’t I listen?” Why didn’t I change the course of my artwork sooner and create work that: 1) Made me happy; 2) Authentically represented my voice as an artist; and 3) Produced work I (and others) considered to be more interesting?

Part of it goes back to my childhood. I was a people-pleaser. I’ve always been someone who wanted to create a harmonious outcome for everyone no matter what the situation. Conflict was to be avoided at all costs and confrontation was a shameful venture. Creating artworks in a concise and predictable style was an exact metaphor for the type of person I personified for most of my life. Most of my old work looks exactly like the thing it is supposed to represent; pets, houses, landscapes, etc. Who could get upset with that, right? Subconsciously, I think my commissions were a way to receive the praise I never felt from within. It took me six years to stand up for myself and finally say, “I’m shutting them down for good.”

As I settle into my own style, I finally feel like I’m in a place I can call home. I’m grateful for the many phases I’ve gone through as an artist these past 25+ years, and I know that each of those years was necessary to get me to where I am today. Some people find their unique voice and style after a few years of working as an artist. Others, like me, may take decades. If you’re like me, I advise you stay the course and keep following that voice you hear telling you to shift gears. Get good, and I mean REALLY freaking good at listening to your inner voice and all your fear will eventually leave you. It may mean scrapping an entire business model you’ve used for the past several years, but whatever time you have left on this earth is all you have to make it count. Leave nothing on the table. Plus, think of all the skills you’ve already amassed just from showing up all those years prior. I plan on returning with a vengeance, and if you’re reading this then you know I’ve already accomplished my first major goal of creating an artist community here on Patreon—something that used to terrify me before I found my voice.

A sample of my current work done in my own style.

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Updated: Mar 24, 2022

Bobby Eppleman


I can count the number of artworks I created between 2011 and 2016 on one hand. Those years were certainly my darkest years as I was battling depression, alcoholism, and trying to maintain the will to keep living. All the while, I continued to simultaneously work full time, obtain a master’s degree, coach three sports, and play semi-professional football. Did I mention I had 6-8 drinks every night and still operated like everything was la-di-dah?

"The All American," 2010. A painting symbolizing my loss of identity during college.

Don’t let the stereotypical definition of “alcoholic” fool you. That’s what keeps people making excuses for their own habitual drinking. On the outside, I looked as though I was kicking life’s ass, but it felt more like I was being kicked from the inside-out.

I was still drinking in 2016 when I woke up one January morning only to see it had snowed and all businesses were closed, including my own. When I say I was still drinking, I mean I literally woke up and started drinking. At the time, I’d have rather not sat with my own thoughts all day despite being accompanied by my soon-to-be wife.

As I scrolled through Instagram that morning, I noticed a picture posted by a friend. It was a scene from Hoboken covered in snow from the same snow storm we had experienced. I was suddenly jolted awake by a craving. To CREATE!!!

"Snowboken," 2016: The painting that jump-started my re-entry into making art.

If you’re an artist, you probably know the feeling I’m talking about. It can be hard to ignore, but if you ignore it for long enough like I did for so many years, it can go dormant.

Something changed me for the better that January and I can only attribute it to a much higher power than myself. My inner artist was reawakened and I was about to embark on a journey that would cause me to change my career path, my habits, and most importantly, my desire to keep on living.

I was fully in touch with my need to create for the rest of 2016. Over the course of the next year and a half, I discovered the peacefulness of pleinair painting. I began taking on commissions for family members while developing a sense that my work might actually be worth more to me than just a hobby. I dropped coaching sports and decided not to go back for another season of semi-pro football. That summer, I got married and later in the fall (October 23 to be exact), I had my last alcoholic beverage at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York.

Eventually, all of my choices, driven by my inner voice, began to snowball. I rediscovered my passion for drawing in sketchbooks—something I did religiously for over a decade in my youth. And perhaps the thing I am most grateful for; I started imagining what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I call that hope.

Art was beginning to take over my every thought from the time woke up to the time I laid my head on the pillow. In the fall of 2017, I entered my first semester of an Art Teacher Certificate program at Kutztown University. My mindset began to shift into a statement of, “If I couldn’t make art with every waking hour, I sure as hell was going to surround myself with it as much as possible.”

My first plein air painting session done in my front yard.

I truly believe there is a divine power at work. It’s a channel of faith I have committed to from the time I was in a car accident when I was sixteen and briefly felt God’s presence. Seeing it in the faces of the people I cared about most woke me up from a spiritual slumber I experienced in my teenage years. During my years of depression and even during those transitional years, I had every reason to stop believing, but faith kept me going.

For all the critics out there, let me say I also wholeheartedly believe in individual free will. As adults, we are responsible for the circumstances we put ourselves in, and if someone else puts us in an adverse situation, our reaction to it still becomes our responsibility. I am 100% responsible for the actions I took to change the course of my life during my mid-twenties, but when individual free will is congruent with faith in a higher power, the fortitude of that free will seems endure for the long haul.

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