Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"Girl Braiding Hair"
16"x 20"
by Robin Dodge

Photograph by Mel Shockner

My inspiration was the way Pierre-Auguste Renior focused on people in intimate and candid compositions.
My design strategy was to paint such an intimate moment of a girl braiding her hair.
My work process was to bath the girl in a warm light, with loose brush strokes, to emulate the style of impressionism.

"Dressing Room"
20"x 16" oil
by Robin Dodge

Photograph by Mel Shockner

My inspiration was the early work of Degas which bared the distinct influence of the dutch  painters. As he matured as a painter he found bolder brush strokes and the use of vivid colors, he blurred the line between portraiture and genre painting.
My design strategy was to create a snapshot of a single moment, a fly on the wall experience.
My work process was to companion up the dark of the old with the bold brush stroke and emerging brilliance of vivid color.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


pastels on sandpaper
by Robin Dodge

Photograph by Mel Shockner

My inspiration was the masterful pastel work of Edgar Degas. While studying Degas, I spent many hours just looking at his work. His classical training and accomplished skills shine in his work and I am encouraged to continue my  discipline of building and improving my skill set. I feel pleased with the influences that came through on this pastel painting.
My design strategy was to create a still life that in a small way conveyed the influence of Degas using the grey hound figurine's delicate form to emulate the ballet dancers and the horses.
My Work process was pastels on sandpaper.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

"The Road"
16"x 20"                            
oil painting by Robin Dodge

Photograph by Mel Shockner

My inspiration was the road on which we all find ourselves traveling, a strange combination of predestination and the power of choices that balance ever precariously on the horizon.
My design strategy was to use color to express the effect of sunlight on the landscape.
My work process was to create a painting using the practices and techniques of Claude Monet. 

"The Sugar Factory"
oil painting by Robin Dodge

Photograph by Mel Shockner

My inspiration was the spontaneous response to  the sunlight and color one spring morning in my back yard looking out at the sugar factory. The same response to the outdoors and the science of light and color that was documented by Pissaro and other impressionist painters in the 1800s.
My design strategy was to create a plein air painting using the technique of the impressionist Camille Pissaro.
My work process was to attempt to portray an overall visual effect instead of details using short broken brush strokes of mixed and unmixed color to achieve an effect of intense color vibration.

"Self portrait in Mink Hat"
20"x 16"
oil painting by Robin Dodge

Photograph by Mel Shockner

My inspiration was the way in which Manet's portrait subjects look out from the canvas engaging the viewer with the unspoken language found in eye contact.
My design strategy was to create a self portrait that had an undercurrent of influence which I expressed through the pose and the look out.
My work process was to use looser brush strokes and a simple color pallet.

Monday, June 25, 2012

"The Girl with the ruby necklace"
oil painting by Robin Dodge

Photograph by Mel Shockner

I was inspired by Jean-Francois Millet 's - Louise Antoinette Feuarden. A beautiful portrait of a young girl with milky white skin.
My design strategy was to create a portrait of my daughter Tiffany in the general style of Millet.
My work process was to use the muted and limited color pallet to capitalize on the Flemish painting style.

"Leda and the Swan"
oil painting by Robin Dodge

Photograph by Mel Shockner

I was inspired by two long held traditions of fine art. The first being the tradition of the narrative using mythology. Secondly, the nude.
My design strategy was to create a playful interpretation of the Greek Myth, "Leda and the Swan"
My work process was pretty straight forward, through my imagination I created a scenario of Leda bathing at the pool where Zeus comes to her disguised  as a swan.

"Still in Red"
pastel on sandpaper by Robin Dodge

Photograph by Mel Shockner

I was inspired by the traditional still life that was and is a common practices of fine art.  Referencing, Goya's "Still life with fruit-bottles-Bread"
My design strategy was to create a balanced still life composition utilizing the interest of fabric textures and folds.
The work process was primarily experimental, at the time. I bought a role sandpaper from a friend. Using spray adhesive, I attached it to foam board. The sandpaper really grabs the pastel and adds a depth and dimension to the work that I had not experienced previously with pastels.

"Sheena Lisa"
oil painting by Robin Dodge

Photograph by Mel Shockner

I was inspired, needless to say, by the Mona Lisa. I was attracted to the formal pose of DaVinci's subject, the landscape of his imagination and the the fact that he worked on this painting for many years and it is rumored that he never considered it complete.

raise your hand if you can relate to that

My design strategy was to incorporate the background from the Mona Lisa with a contemporary portrait of my daughter Sheena.
My work process was to mute the colors of the borrowed landscape to represent the time that has passed and punched up the colors of my subject to bring it to Now...

Friday, June 8, 2012

"Portrait of Troy"
oil painting by Robin Dodge

Photograph by Mel Shockner

I was inspired by Rembrandt's masterful rendering of his subjects. He is regarded by many as the master of portrait painting, capturing their soulful essence.
My design strategy was to build on my existing skills as a portrait painter, pushing myself to transcend what I thought I knew and find  what Rembrandt has to teach me. I wanted to capture the real Troy, a spark of his soul caught on canvas.
My work process was to, using the colors I saw in Rembrandt's work and go for it. I am very happy with the outcome.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"Orange Peeling"
Oil painting by Robin Dodge

Photograph by Mel Shockner

My inspiration was first of all, the skill in which Caravaggio painted his still-life paintings and secondly, the drama he so masterfully injected into all of his work. His work as well as his life was filled with drama.
My design strategy was to create drama with light, color, and simplicity.
My work process. I started a number of paintings while reflecting on  Caravaggio. But the drama I was attempting, seemed too manufactured. So I went to the drama of simplicity.

Monday, May 28, 2012

King's Cloak
By Robin Dodge

Photograph by Mel Shockner

My inspiration was the immense body of work that Donatello and Michelangelo created with stone and bronze in their lifetimes. I wanted to share the experience of touching stone and pulling out the creation that lives within the stone.
My design strategy was the body of the owl to have a gentle curve to create the sense of movement even though the owl is in a stationary pose. I used the mix of media to extend the drama and to convey the regal presence owls hold in nature.
My work process. Monty Taylor, sculptor and I had shared a really cool studio with three other artists and at that time we became friends. Then life took us in different directions. Recently we shared in a collaborative project, he with the stone, I with the copper. Originally intended to be a fund raiser for a Kenyan tribe trying to put together a water source for an endangered heard of giraffe, we were very happy with the outcome. At the time I was studying the Renaissance sculptors  who used stone. I wanted to try it. At his studio we were looking in his scap stone pile for a small stone I could work with to get my toes wet. The owl was blocked out but the wing had broken off so it ended up in the discard. It attracted me on a number of levels. Re-purposing is a favorite pass time of mine and my love for winged creatures. The stone is Colorado alabaster and I made the wings with copper to resemble a royal cloak.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Michelangelo's Sketch
Copper by Robin Dodge

Photograph by Mel Shockner

My inspiration was the working sketches of Michelangelo. While searching for study materials, I came across a book at Anthology Book Store downtown titled "Michelangelo, The Pope's Ceiling" by Ross King. In his creative process, he created many sketches that eventually lead to some of his greatest works. I was also inspired in learning about his personal life. It is easy to put these Master on a pedestal and skip over the fact that they were human too, with insecurities and shortcomings and struggles.
Like his sketches, he evolved into one of the greatest artists that has ever lived with a Mount Everest of accomplishments to his credit.
My design strategy. My study strategy was chronological, so  Michelangelo was early in the study. I was extremely intimidated by his genius. I went directly over his sketch and added my impression of it in copper.
My work process. The sketch was a line drawing of Madonna and child. Only the baby was shaded. Using the point of reference of the baby, with sculpting tools, I raised the copper up as though the sketch was coming alive and falling into the 21st century.

"The Legend of the Unicorn" 
copper by Robin Dodge

Photograph by Mel Shockner

My inspiration was a French Tapestry in an old art history text book I found at a garage sale. I essentially copied the tapestry, modifying the image content slightly. I was studying Donatello at the time and there was a common practice of taking a pilgrimage to see and copy the works of past masters and Donatello took such a sojourn. So when I came upon the text book photo I was initially attracted to its' mythical value, unicorns specifically.
My design strategy was to make the tapestry into a copper repousee' reflecting on Donatello's "Feast of Herod"
Work Process I used 8mil copper sheet. Drawing the design onto the copper and with sculpting tools, raising and recessing the image to tell the story. I used washes and patina to add to the drama.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Food for thought

Creativity is defined as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others.

Three reasons why people are motivated to be creative:

need for novel, varied, and complex stimulation
need to communicate ideas and values
need to solve problems

In order to be creative, you need to be able to view things in new ways or from a different perspective. Among other things, you need to be able to generate new possibilities or new alternatives. Tests of creativity measure not only the number of alternatives that people can generate but the uniqueness of those alternatives. the ability to generate alternatives or to see things uniquely does not occur by change; it is linked to other, more fundamental qualities of thinking, such as flexibility, tolerance of ambiguity or unpredictability, and the enjoyment of things heretofore unknown.
From Human Motivation, 3rd ed., by Robert E. Franken:

Creativity refers to the phenomenon whereby a person creates something new that has some kind of value. What counts as "new" may be in reference to the individual creator, or to the society or domain within which the novelty occurs. What counts as "valuable" is similarly defined in a variety of ways. From Wiki

You cannot use up creativity. The more you use the more you have. Maya Angelou

Creativity is marked by the ability or power to create to bring into existence, to invest with a new form, to produce through imaginative skill, to make or bring into existence something new. from Webster

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” ~Antoine De Saint Exupery

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Sunday night I finished my last painting for the show. It was the portrait of Troy. Monday I spent the day with Mel Schockner Photographing the work for the show in July.

This is the end of the heavy lifting.

Much to my good fortune, Monday night was the meeting of our monthly "Artist Collective" It was one of the best meeting yet. Dena Kirk was one of the speakers that night and she said some things I was ready to hear.

That is one of the cool things I have learned over the years is that when I am ready to learn a thing, someone comes along and says something, or does something that makes everything come together in a way, in that moment, something is passed between my teacher and me.

Tuesday I had a long day at my other job.

Today I have been meditating, while washing dishes, the last two plus years and what I have been trying to accomplish and how did that match up with what I took away from this thing I have been doing.

I think that is what I have to share now.

I will ruminate on this, while I move from room to room kicking up the things not yet internalized like the dust under the swing of my broom.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

weather conditions

Tonight I have been working on a fund raising project I participate in every year for the Youth Gardeners. This year I am painting a stylized peacock feather on an Adirondack chair using a light pallet.

Last night I made my sketch and made some design decisions. As with any work for me, the design, pallet, skill and meaning all receive consideration. I find that if I do the footwork, there seems to be more freedom in the moment of execution and that is when inspiration takes front row.

One of the many benefits from this study has been find and creating the conditions in which I am able to find inspiration. The design, the skill, the pallet, those are the tools one spends a lifetime of practice on.

Inspiration is found in the moment.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Rose hips

I have started my painting influenced by my studies of Georgia O'Keeffe. How does Georgia influence me?

The first time I went to her museum in santa fe in 1997, excitement was in the air. We came by way of motorcycle, Karl and I. We stayed at the Abiquiu Inn a couple of miles from her house. Settled in and then took a day trip to Sante Fe. We paid for our tickets, I remember handing my ticket to the man at the door to the entrance, walking around a corner and there was her painting of the night cityscape with a single street lantern. It took my breath away, literally, tears welled up in my eyes. suddenly I felt terribly resentful that there were other people there. Surely this was meant to be a solitary moment. I could feel her spirit in her work. It was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had, one I will never forget. I have trouble describing it as anything less of a spiritual experience. I had read about her, had calenders, books, but to be face to face with the work was so different.

When it came time to start on the painting that represented the influence that Georgia O'Keeffe has had on me and my work,it was more complex then one might think, she is perhaps the most famous female artist in history.

I have in the past painted my fair share of flowers at close range and I have my own deer skull paintings with their own personal stories. But I wanted this painting to say something about her and I.

I decided to paint "Rose hips"

organic in nature, familiar curves and shapes, the rose hip representing the afterlife and nourishment that comes from the rose after the spender has passed.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Breaking silence

Breaking the long silence of the holiday season, I am thinking about the Flemish style of painting.

"Flemish painting flourished from the early 15th century until the 17th century. Flanders delivered the leading painters in Northern Europe and attracted many promising young painters from neighbouring countries. These painters were invited to work at foreign courts and had a Europe-wide influence. Since the end of the Napoleonic era, Flemish painters have again been contributing to a reputation that had been set by the Old Masters.[1]".

You have to love wiki.

Specifically at the works of Jean-Fran├žois Millet

again we hear from wikipedia

"Jean-Fran├žois Millet (October 4, 1814 – January 20, 1875) was a French painter and one of the founders of the Barbizon school in rural France. Millet is noted for his scenes of peasant farmers; he can be categorized as part of the naturalism and realism movements."

When looking at the works of Millet, it is easy to see why he is on the list of artists I decided to study.

Breaking silence is hard.

I started a portrait of my daughter Tiffany in the Flemish style. I feel challenged and at the same time very impassioned by the color pallet and the crispness of the chosen style.

I think I may have captured something of her,Tiffany, maybe her spirit or her personality. I am pleased with the progress I have made with this portrait.

I amuse myself often throughout the process I find myself in.

I work for a while and I am thrilled and I think "I'm done, this looks fantastic, well done robin." I move the painting to the other room on the wall where I am hanging my completed works. Then I wonder over and start a pot of tea and arrange the assortment of junk mail, bills and old newspapers on the counter top, casually shuffling through the papers. Maybe even wash the dishes that have built up through the day. Slowly dissatisfaction starts to creep in and then I walk over to my books or the internet and I look at more art by Millet and other Flemish artists. Now I find myself walking back in the other room, taking the piece I was so happy with just a couple of minutes ago, off the wall and back to the easel. Then I look into the eyes of Millet's Louise-Antoinette Feuardent, 1841 oil on canvas, the soft touch of the brush, the stark simplicity. I think " No I am not done, and then I push into uncharted territories and fun starts all over again. This is one of the thing the Masters as we call them, say to me, " don't be so easily contented, push harder, expect more out of yourself, and you will get it."