Bob Ripley works primarily in metals and wood, and his creations can range from an impossibly detailed and intricate portrait to a beautifully made door. It’s a combination of artistic ability and craftsmanship that he comes by naturally.
“The connection that I have with wood in particular is that my grandfather and my uncle were carpenters,” he says. “I feel very comfortable working with wood because I would help my grandfather make stuff around my home as a child.”
But it wasn’t until Ripley quit his job as an electronics technician at age 40 that he began to create artwork. As for the reason why, well, some people become artists because it’s their lifelong passion. Others do so because of an attractive librarian.
“This is the story that changed my life,” Ripley says. “I was working as an electronic technician and I used to go to this wonderful technical library. And there was this cute librarian there. I went over to her desk and started talking to her, and she asked, ‘What do you do?’ and I started to tell her about my job. She said, ‘No, no, what do you do when you’re not a work?’ And I thought, out loud, ‘Well I go home and drink beer and watch TV and eat dinner and go to bed, and the next morning I get up and go to work.’ She turned her back to me and faced the other way, as if to say, ‘Well, if you don’t have a life, why should I talk to you?’ And I thought, ‘I get it.’ I started taking art classes at night at a community college in San Diego.”
No word if Ripley ever went back to that library with a new story, but he did discover a new purpose. “I found a new joy, a new avocation,” he says.
This will be Ripley’s fourth year at Open Studios, and he says he’s thrilled by the opportunity to show people the different things he can do with a good piece of wood.
“It’s an adventure for folks who don’t typically go see where an artist works or their process,” he says. “I started doing it in an effort to open myself to others. I do a lot of different things. It gives me a chance to expose what I do to the public.”