Robert Hagan was born in 1947 in Murwillumbah, New South Wales and spent his childhood in the scenic Tweed Valley. He has led an amazing and varied life, is widely travelled, and has worked as a school teacher, artist, author and film maker.
He is best known for being a romantic, impressionist artist, producing oil paintings that portray a broad range of subjects, including: people, beach scenes, sailing, nature and wildlife, cowboys on horseback and outback scenes of Australia. A self-taught artist, Hagan uses a limited palette of colours to impart a sense of tranquillity and the play of light. His brushwork is loose, with final strokes of impasto.
At school he excelled at football which led to him gaining a scholarship to Newcastle University, where he graduated with an Arts degree in Economics and a Diploma in Education.
After university, Hagan worked as a school teacher, while also painting. In 1974 he held his first art exhibition in Sydney at Woollahra Galleries, followed by another showing with his two brothers at Holdsworth Gallery. When he was 28 he took time off to paint and travel.
In 1978, when he was 31, he decided to devote considerable time to refining his painting technique, determined not to seek tuition and referring only to works and images from deceased great artists. His breakthrough came on Freshwater Beach where he had the realisation that learning starts with one, and not 50 complicated steps. He observed that the simplicity of nature at the beach, with three main elements, seaside-sky, water and beach – could be replicated using primarily three colours.
Hagan sold his first painting as a “professional” full-time artist at a school charity art show – a beach scene. Afterwards, he spent two years painting every sort of life and mood on the beach, especially pelicans. He bought a house in Harbord, then moved to Thailand and rented a cottage on the beach. He returned to Australia periodically as well a living in the UK, where he painted.
From 1980 to 1988 he held several exhibitions, all of which were sell-outs and by this point in his career his subject matter had expanded from beaches to include a broad range of subjects. In 1986 a selection of his works were chosen to hang in the office of the incoming Premier of NSW, Barrie Unsworth.
Robert’s rise to International fame began in Perth in 1987 when he portrayed the America’s Cup battle off Freemantle, and went on to enjoy a sell-out exhibition, and met Australia’s America’s Cup Team. In 1987 he published his first book, “Paintings of Australia”.
Then he moved into thoroughbred horse racing and his racehorse, a filly called Research, went on to become Australian Champion Racehorse of the Year in 1988-1989.
In 1991 Hagan moved to San Diego to again paint the America’s Cup and in 1993 published his second book of Australian paintings, “Images of Australia”. In the US, Hagan gave seminars on painting, was invited to judge art competitions in Los Angeles, and appeared on occasional TV talk shows, while continuing to paint for exhibitions, which were now including themes in the Wild West genre.
In 1995 he once again painted the America’s Cup, and won the prestigious Mystic International maritime painting competition, and by then had established a strong presence in select US galleries and published two more books, “Romantic Oil Painting Made Easy” in 1995, and “Painting Cowboys and the Old West” in 1997, which led to a very successful career.
By 1999, Hagan’s book of paintings and prose celebrating women and children, “Cherished Moments” was published and he had returned to live in Australia with his children. Hagan also completed the building of a hotel in Thailand and published his book “Nostalgic Oil Painting Made Easy” in 2003, followed by another publication “My Australia” in 2004, and was then again living in the US.
From early 2007 to 2009, Hagan conceived, produced and filmed a 10 part travel and painting television series called “A Splash of Colour”, with 30-minute episodes featuring him painting on location in Thailand and the Philippines, as well as locations in the USA including: New Orleans, Fort Worth and Yosemite. The series was licensed in 2010 to Discovery HD and was shown internationally in several languages, as well selected episodes shown on international air flights.
Hagan also produced other TV shows in 2010, for a series called “Let’s Go Painting’ based on a reality TV theme with him appearing as the ‘’Walkabout Artist’, which he filmed with his friend.
In addition to his TV shows, Hagan has also produced 5 instructional painting DVDs including ‘Billy and Buddy at the Beach’, ‘Country Cousins’, ‘Cattle Drive’, ‘Mountain Men’ and ‘Bathing Elephants’.
Robert Hagan continues to exhibit widely across the USA and in selected galleries in Australia as well as hosting international painting workshops.