Sam Roloff has realized there comes a point in everyone’s life where they either settle into a predictably safe routine or adventure into the direction of their dreams.
After owning a web design company, Sam, 47, recently decided to pursue his art career full-time. Wanting to live without any regrets is what inspired him to make a commitment to his art. “I am not getting any younger,” he said. “What is the point of living if you just wish you tried something instead of having the courage to actually do what I want. I am learning the more I give to my art, the more it gives back.”
His style of artwork varies – as he doesn’t want to be labeled. His inspiration derives from listening to OPB radio, exploring Portland, and observing people. Using a blank canvas, Sam begins to express his thoughts, ideas, opinions – resulting in a story he wishes to share. His artwork often references current events and he’s not afraid to tackle controversial topics. “Ultimately, my paintings are metaphors for life itself: a process of change and growth tethered to the past and the constant present,” he wrote on his website.
He starts his day with the busy work of being an artist – phone calls, billing, marketing and planning. By noon, he is mixing colors, sketching and putting paint on campus. “I let my artwork speak to me and let it go where it needs to,” he said. “I have discovered my voice through painting. Art is my way to reach out and communicate with the rest of the world.”
Big circus tents, an array of colorful characters, vibrant colors and bursts of activity can be found in Roloff’s latest series called East vs. West. The circus themed paintings, he said, depict his feelings of being pulled between the East and West sides of Portland. “The West is the nurturing side and the East side is the crazy join the circus side. The circus idea is more about following your dreams. It is about not being practical and doing what you love.”
The challenge of being an artist is both scary and beautiful, he said, adding he often feels like he is living on the edge. “There is the hunger I have to make this work,” he said. “There are days I am living off my credit cards and then when I sell a painting I can pay everything off.”
Realizing some people may consider his artwork “dark” and may not like it, Sam said it isn’t his goal to appeal to everyone. “I paint what I like and hope it sells. I try to be my worst critic. I look at every painting and think is, that or the other thing.”
Sam defines art as an artifact. “It should be something you want to keep and treasure, and it should be something you want to be handed down in your family. Art definitely is an expression of person’s life. I do want to tell a story with my art.”