Barbara Robinson

   portraits in color pencil

Artist's Statement

Staring into another person's face to capture their likeness is an activity I will never tire of. I've drawn portraits since I was 10 years old (they looked awful, but you must start sometime) and from that point it became the way I learned to define the world (which is another way of saying I turn everything into a portrait!). A conventional portrait's tight constraints (good drawing, good likeness) leave little room for interpretation, one that was equally mirrored in my work as a graphic artist (you want a million ideas in 10 minutes?). I was delighted to be able to merge my portraiture with the humor, style, satire and social awareness that are the characteristics of my "label series." Besides being my homage to the great advertising pieces of the past, it blends the portrait artist and graphic artist in me. The series also gives voice to my political, satirical and historical opinions in a humorous and non-threatening way. Mining my own psyche and face has brought its own unique challenges ("Are other people going through this?" and "Do I REALLY look like that?") and has given me an opportunity to chronicle my (mid)life journey as Everywoman in a series I call "Bright Insights."

Artist's Background

I was born and grew up in Aberdeen, Maryland (that's an East Coast accent you hear!), one of 7 children. Music and Art were both encouraged in our household and I knew from an early age that both would become my life. I graduated summa cum laude from Thiel College in Greenville, Pennsylvania with a BA in Fine Art, and went on to become a graphic artist, applying my artistic vision in the service of commerce. No matter where I've lived (Maryland, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Florida, Chicago and now Atlanta) I always manage to plug into the rich music and art communities that dot the country. Living in different places has been an education itself, as I've been exposed to regionally different music and art.

While in Chicago I acquired the skill of decorating Ukrainian Easter Eggs, a delightful folk art. Like the intaglio printmaking I so adored in college, here was another difficult and laborious artform I could sink my teeth into. There's something that is appealing about an artform that is not only ancient (5000 years and counting) and spiritually meaningful (colors and designs all have benevolent meanings) but that was done specifically by the women. Teaching this folk art and passing along its charm is something I do with pleasure every spring. I was proud when one of my Ukrainian Eggs was selected to be on the White House Christmas Tree during the Reagan administration.

My artistic tastes are varied, but I usually turn to drawing and its various manifestations in my love affair with line. Executing a portrait in pencil or colored pencil allows me to maintain a freshness and spontaneity that I think is crucial when rendering a human face. These mediums allow me the delicacy that drawing women and children require. I've been privileged to record many faces throughout my life, and I am pleased that one of my portraits of the grandson of Jimmy Carter is hanging in his office at the Carter Center. Being an artist of many mediums, a violist and private teacher, wife and mother has made for some serious juggling in my life. I am married to someone, ironically enough, named Art who is a loving and supportive man who understands my drive to produce and exercise my creativity. Together we are raising Isobel, a wonderfully talented daughter (hey, this is MY bio) who is equally creative and driven. We look forward to the future manifestations of her gifts.

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