Feature Artist: Robin Robertson

The Dillsburg Area Public Library’s featured artists for May and June 2022 are all from the Hanover Arts Guild. Our art wall coordinator Shelby Pizzarro caught up with one of the artists, Robin Robertson:

The source of my inspiration comes through my experience of light, sky, landscape, shadows and the lines and stories of architecture.  When I am experiencing nature, I am filled with the smells of the earth and hearing and seeing the wildlife.  The simple or complex lines of yesterday’s buildings captivate me.  Being around other artists also generates excitement.

My paintings reflect my experience of the everyday view and an actual reliving of the joy that I experience when I see the beauty and mystery of creation. I am also drawn to the doorway, the barn, a window and what lies beyond.

When I paint, I have the opportunity to re-experience that moment in time when I am drawn to the story of the old barn or the light upon a landscape.  There are moments of total focus and being in the moment.

The process I use varies a little from painting to painting. Since most of my painting is done indoors, most often I refer to photographs that I have taken.  That is my starting point.  Because photographs can be two dimensional or flat, I think about creating depth, editing, and composition.  I ask myself, “What do I want this painting to be about?  A dramatic sky… a tree… a barn aged by the story of its existence?  The photograph falls by the wayside as the painting progresses and takes on a life of its own.

To start a painting, I think about what needs to be in the painting and what should be left out.  I use burnt sienna to sketch my painting.  In the process I cover the canvas totally with burnt sienna.  This gives a warmth to the canvas and keeps the white of the canvas from showing through. I generally work from the top of the canvas to the bottom starting with large brushes and after several layers will reduce the size of my brush.  I walk away from my paintings for a while so that when I come back I have a fresh view. 

I began painting with acrylic but then started painting in oil.  They both have strengths.  While it is sometimes hard to achieve the flow of oil with acrylics, oils can take up to a year to dry and they are difficult to use in a studio that has little ventilation.  When weather permits, I use oil outdoors to paint and reserve acrylics for the winter months.

Whenever I am a loss of what to paint next, which doesn’t happen very often, I take my camera and look for something that catches my eye.  I also put on music and play freely with my paints, brushes, spray bottles, and sponges as a warmup. 

During Covid-19, the worry and sadness seeped into my desire to paint.  Because my painting comes from a place of joy and is inspired by being around other artists, I was not always successful finding the motivation to paint.  Luckily, I was able to paint en plein air with other artists. I also took long walks at the Gettysburg Battlefield to recapture the feeling that life goes on and beauty still exists. 

My focus now is the Gettysburg Battlefield with the idea of capturing the landscape. When I think about what I want to share, it is not about the battle, the monuments, or the cannons. I appreciate that other historical artists share that story.  For me, it is always about the simple view.

I may be reached at 717-334-1347 or [email protected].