Martinsville, Va. In 1946, he set up a studio in Martinsville on the third floor of Kearfott’s Drug Store on The Square, and spent several months there annually painting portraits of local people. “Everytime I think I’ve exhausted the possibilities here in Martinsville,” he said, “I get called back for another one.” His sister Mary Lu Kearfott Stone wrote about his sojourns in Martinsville in her book about their sister Rebecca, who was called Boo.  “Robert decided to open a studio in Martinsville. He rented the third floor of Kearfott’s drugstore and remodeled it into a real modern studio. He would come to Martinsville when he had portraits to make, stay a month or two months, then return to his studio in New York…he always boarded with Boo, though he roomed elsewhere. How he enjoyed Mattie’s good cooking. Bob loved Boo and admired her rather extravagantly. When [our daughter] Mary Glenn was married, he and Boo came for the wedding. Bob so admired the outfit Boo wore he insisted on making a portrait of her. It was exhibited many times. He gave it to her for a wedding present when she married Dr. Carriel.”


On a few occasions, Kearfott painted historical figures. One, for instance, is the portrait of General Joseph Martin, which he donated to Joseph Martin School through the General Joseph Martin Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1967.  Another was a portrait of Patrick Henry, which hung in the Public Library in Bassett, Virginia.

Kearfott made at least one painting for a magazine cover during this period. The June, 1955, cover of the American Legion Magazine is a painting called “Circus Day, USA”. According to Margaret Kearfott Carriel, “it’s the square in Martinsville painted from Uncle Bob’s studio above the drugstore, looking down the hill.”