Saturday, July 30, 2011

Guest Blog - Artist Robin Roberts

Scary Things  by Robin Roberts
"Fencesitters" ©Robin Roberts   18x24 oil

Why would attempting something new or different be scary?   Collectors and others who don't paint might not realize that it can sometimes take guts for an artist/painter to try something different.     Or there might be a reluctance to try something different from rules and guidelines we've been taught.  Or to do something outside what family or friends think is "pretty".   Or do something that might not sell - something outside the artists'  perceived typical work.   
As you follow you'll notice I'm using different brushwork, using my modest drawing skills to "shape" rather than draw;  avoiding  "staying between the lines";  deciding which compositional guidelines to use and which to change for this particular painting.   Trying something different and having fun watching it unfold.   If I allow myself, it can be like watching a movie.  Other times a painting requires periods of concentration and might be successful, but they just don't flow like the ones that I play and experiment.    I'm willing to play and let it fail and use the opportunity to fix" it, or throw it away.  Every one doesn't need to be a finished product. 

next to last step, notice the verrrry yellow foreground - partly intended to add warmth underneath the cooler grasses at the end (above).   Trees were lightened and texture added in the grasses.  
Starting:   I'm avoiding sharp delineation lines as long as possible because I can direct the viewers' eye by making sharper definitions at the very end.  That will only take a very few marks.   This is laid in with a chip brush from the "home store" to get the rhythm and light/dark composition. The canvas is ordinary cotton that I've gessoed with Utrecht brand professional (artists) gesso.
....the next photo below shows 3 horses against the fenceline in shadow. That's the part that really caught my attention.   I attended a Dawn Whitelaw workshop sponsored by Dot Courson.  Dawn encourages painters to hone in on the aspect of the scene that inspires the painter, leaving all else subordinate.     That's one of the scary parts - I want it ALL -  the deer, the waterfall, the mountains, the lake, the cows,the fence, the flowers,  the sunset, the sunrise all in one painting.   If we were photographers, we would move around to compose a scene.    Painters have the ability to LEAVE IT OUT.   There's where our power lies.    Why would it be so scary to leave something out?

horses added, the overlapping dark one after this.....
palimino on the right...with values and colors the same as the tree line.
below: the front horse taking shape.....I recognize the silhouette and begin to block in the dark, light and color on the horse shape, putting them in like jigsaw pieces without blending, piecing the horse together like a quilt. Each value of color gets an individual mix meant to go in a specific place. Sometimes it might take the flick of a brush, or a drag or applying with light swipe - sometimes it takes the brush at a 90 degree angle, but most often the back edge of the brush held horizontally.
You can notice more of the patchwork effect.   I'm using a bristle flat #6 or 8.  All the colors and values are there - now I'll adjust the blocky color shapes with more blocky color shapes in between, and - magic!  it comes together like it's been blended.   See the ear on the left and the ear on the right with nothing in between?   Find the colors and shapes of the top of the neck and the light on the hip in the finished painting.  And the legs.   With more "looking I see purples , blues, and oranges and try to play  it up, still keeping the quiet time effect by not using the more intense colors.    Notice the horses were not drawn in first.     They are "shaped" according to my sketch or reference material.    If I drew them first I would tend to "fill in the lines" and the foreground or background wouldn't be continuous.   Some values and colors are the same as the background as they are in nature, making the horses part of the environment. 

One thing I've learned - about a third of my paintings are flops.  It's something I accept and enjoy that learning process.
p/s  students teach me in my monthly painting class at Hobby Lobby in Decatur Al. 
I've enjoyed chatting about painting with you!

Oil painter Robin Roberts has lived in 5 states, but north Alabama roots keep her grounded. Inspired by ordinary views by the side of the road, Robin seeks nobility in the everyday scenes we encounter. Her southern landscapes draw us into the excitement and mystery of light and shadow, bringing to life that delicate time of day that is so fleeting. Through vigorous brushwork, delicate touches, subtle color combinations and unusual compositions we are able to see the common transformed into places you know by heart. Robin is equally attracted to painting animals and the figure as well as her signature landscapes.

Many national and regional artists trained her to translate a vision into beautiful canvases by painting outdoors on location. This is Robins’ favorite method, and it allows her to add truth to larger paintings.

She received many awards, but finds the biggest reward is when someone passes by and says “ahhhhhhh” and knows a painting has touched a chord in the heart.
Originally from north Alabama, Robin’s family lived in Iowa twice, Texas twice, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana. That southern orientation emerges in the oil paintings. Now Alabama again presents wonders begging to be brought to life.

Robin’s collectors find her art at: Dragonfly Gallery in Fayetteville Tn; ARTifacts Gallery in Florence Al; Renaissance Gallery in Northport Al; Kathleen’s Fine Art in Decatur Al, Ashland Gallery in Mobile Al, and Charleston House Gallery in Montgomery Al or www.RobinRobertsArt.com
Robin Roberts
512 Dogwood Place SW
Decatur Al 35603

Robin's journal of painting blog:


  1. Thank you so much for this, Robin!

    This was a wonderful guest blog, and this painting is fabulous- as is all your work, my friend!


  2. Wonderful and informative Guest blog post. Very much enjoyed reading about your thought process. Very true about the choices we must make are artists...good editing means a lot in the end. Beautiful painting- A+ all the way around.

  3. Thanks Kathy and Dot - it's artists like you who have taught me, so I look forward to more guest blogs and followng you.

  4. Great idea, Dot. And, Robin, your painting is fantastic and I like your commentary, too. This is a wonderful way to learn about other artists.