Robert Spannring

Bill Mittag

Robert Spannring


Robert is a native Montanan. Born in Livingston on a bright Montana winter night, Robert is the youngest of eight children. Both his mother and father grew up on family-homesteaded ranches in the Big Timber area. The land has always been Robert’s inspiration. He grew up sneaking away from school to go outside, draw the landscape and animals along the river bottom, and explore what might be around the next corner. Robert has been a professional painter and illustrator for 40 years, building his art career with a brush and pen. For twenty years Robert worked as an illustrator and watercolorist. During these years, Robert developed his skills in drawing with pencil, pen and ink, and watercolor washes. His subject matter was wildlife and the land. While attending Montana State University, his Life Drawing classes expanded Robert’s desire to seek out other subjects, and he began to explore still life, the human figure, and abstract objects. Working for Russell Chatham from 1984-86, Robert added many different painting techniques to his artistic range. In 1986-1998, Robert co-founded the Wade Gallery. In addition to exhibiting his art at the gallery, Robert worked in exhibit preparation, framing, and sales.

Having been awarded the contract to produce all of the artwork for Yellowstone’s Lake Hotel renovation, Robert served as the Artist-In-Residence at the Lake Hotel in Yellowstone National Park from 1987-1992. His work is exhibited throughout the Lake Hotel today. From 1992-2007, Robert turned his focus to illustration. He produced work for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition (of which Robert is a founding member), The Museum of the Rockies, Defenders of Wildlife, the National Forest Service, the Montana Dept. of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the Boone and Crockett Club, Montana Audubon Council, U.S. Forest Service, Roberts Reinhart Publishers, among many others. In 2001, after many years as a watercolorist, Robert decided to add oil painting to his artistic repertoire in order to explore new territory and express his ideas on a larger scale. During this time, Robert’s oil works won several awards. Among them, One Canoe Tree was one of forty out of 425 entries accepted into the Journey’s End National Art Exhibit. Light After the Storm was an award-winning piece in the top fifty paintings selected for the Salon International 2004, sponsored by GreenHouse Gallery in San Antonio, TX.

In 2003, Robert began plein air painting. In 2014, Robert was invited to join the distinguished Montana Painters Alliance, a group established by and for professional Montana artists to encourage excellence in plein air painting. From 2005-2008, Robert worked with Jack Horner at The Museum of the Rockies, providing interpretive dinosaur illustrations and large-scale digital habitat paintings for the Special Museum Exhibits. His work remains an integral part of the dinosaur exhibits.

Throughout his career, Robert’s work has been selected repeatedly for museum exhibits and auctions, including the Charles M. Russell Museum, the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, the Yellowstone Art Museum, the Missoula Art Museum, the Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art, the Hockaday Museum of Art, and the WaterWorks Art Museum, as well as many galleries throughout the West. His illustration clients have included State of Montana, Museum of the Rockies, US Forest Service, Orvis, Winston Rods, Sasquatch Books and many other book publishers. Many of Robert’s paintings are in private collections throughout the US.