Behind Tobin Sprout’s photo-realist paintings featured on new album ‘Empty Horses’

Artist, illustrator, writer and lo-fi innovator, Tobin Sprout was the super-productive partner of Robert Pollard in the legendary Guided By Voices. As an artist, Tobin is famous for his photo-realism large format paintings, especially the ‘Superchrome’ series, although he does paint in other styles as well.

The gifted songwriter returns pensive and expansive on biographical new album ‘Empty Horses’, released on a Deluxe CD Bookback beautifully packed with 24 Pages of Paintings and Lyrics by Tobin Sprout, a true collectors piece for fans of Tobin’s music and art. Also released on Standard Black LP.

The album is a meticulously observed study of America and Americana (not the music, but the state of mind). An alternative American Songbook, if you will, a collection of laments to simpler times and the struggle for what’s right, peppered with an examination of faith and the search for a sense of justice. And, as it unravels these gritty anecdotes span the generations from the dividing and the American Civil War through to today’s confusing times.

Check Tobin Sprout’s website to find his art and more information about him:

Tobin Sprout gave us some insights on the following paintings, featured on ‘Empty Horses’. Buy the Deluxe CD Bookback.

'All Stars' is just a still life. I liked painting the wear and tear on the shoes.

All Stars

On 'Dairy Farm' I was drawn to the old windows and the colors of the day. Very pastel.

Dairy Farm

'Fifth Street' is somewhat of a portrait of Bill Pickrel. He posed for the painting. Again, liked painting the wear, rust and dents.

Fifth Street

'Abandon Home' is a very graphic composition. I was drawn to the dark shadows and pealing paint.

Abandon Home

I simply call this one by the date of its painting. The summer sunset starts at the right of the island, when it gets to the left of the island, summer almost over.

July 24th

I started painting pay phones when I first started seeing cell phones. I was thinking land lines would soon become obsolete.


A very cool old hotel in Grand Haven, MI. It's now part of Sleeping Bear National Park.


The color of this flower almost glows. I tried to capture that in this small painting.


Love the field stone of this barn. Lots of colors in the stone and nice shadows.

Red Stone Barn

I’ve painted this building in a couple different seasons. This was mid-winter where the snow takes on a soft purple tone. It was a very calm, peaceful late afternoon.


Tobin Sprout ‘Empty Horses’