Of mugs, mutts & toons

Caricature artist Kent Roberts will draw people and pets at WCMFA event

Caricature artist Kent Roberts will draw people and pets at WCMFA event

July 23, 2009|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

Kent Roberts can crank out artwork fast.

He can do a portrait in 10 minutes - 6 if he's at a festival and folks are waiting. He averages 1,200 faces a year.

But that's the nature of caricature: quick and simple. All he needs is a No. 2 pencil, a black marker and a willing subject.

"Caricature is what you would look like if you were a cartoon," Roberts said as he sketched a caricature in his home studio in Shippensburg, Pa.


"You want to exaggerate, but at the same time, likeness is the most important thing," Roberts said. "You want to be careful not to lose the likeness."

On Sunday, pets and people will be Roberts' subjects. The 53-year-old artist and educator will create caricatures at the Animal Artists Family Festival at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. The event is tied to the museum's "Animals in Art" exhibit, on view through Sunday, Aug. 30, said Museum Educator Amy Hunt.

Roberts won't be using pets as live subjects - Hunt said pets aren't permitted at the museum. But visitors can bring in photos of their pet for Roberts to work from.

Besides, it's hard to get some pets to be still.

In recent years, painting pooches has been Roberts' passion.

Roberts and his wife, Pam, adopted three former racing greyhounds, Brooks, 11; Nike, 9; and Kansas, 6, who are often the inspiration of his own pet portraits.

The dogs spend their days napping or zipping around the backyard of the couple's home in Shippensburg, Pa.

Roberts does watercolor or acrylic pet portraits and sells prints at

Roberts came from an artistic family. His father, 86-year-old landscape artist Clyde Roberts, is a retired supervisor of art for Washington County Public Schools. His sister, Cindy Downs, is also an artist.

At age 13, Kent Roberts was working as his dad's assistant. "His unpaid assistant," he said.

But unlike his father, Kent would go on to chose caricature as his preferred medium.

"I read a lot of MAD Magazine," he said.

If you go ...

WHAT: Animal Artists Family Festival. Activities include:

Caricatures by Kent Roberts, $10 each

Artist exhibitions

2:30 and 3:30 p.m. - Children's art activities. Costs $5 per child.

3 p.m. - "Becoming the Leader of Your Pack," lecture by Maryland dog whisperer Susie Homire. Tickets cost $15 for nonmembers, $10 for members.

WHEN: 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, July 26

WHERE: Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, City Park, Hagerstown

MORE: Pets are not permitted on museum property. Attendees are asked to bring photos of their pets if they wish to have pet caricatures drawn.

CONTACT: Washington County Museum of Fine Arts at 301-739-5727, e-mail or go to

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