Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

 

HOME

PREVIOUS
FEATURED ARTISTS:

TOM ASHE

BARB BELKNAP

BUNNY BOWEN

GERALDINE BRUSSEL

JB BRYAN

JOE CAJERO

MARY CARTER

ARTURO CHAVEZ

LISA CHERNOFF

RALPH CHURCHILL

CATE CLARK

DAVID W. CRAMER

CREATIVE SPIRITS OF PLACITAS

SARA LEE D'ALESSANDRO

FERNANDO DELGADO

MARILYN AND HERB DILLARD

SAMANTHA McCUE ECKERT

ALVARO ENCISO

ROGER EVANS

MARCIA FINKELSTEIN

JIM FISH

JIM FISH

BEN FORGEY

C.E. FRAPPIER

BILL FREEMAN

LENORE & LARRY GOODELL

ED GOODMAN

EDWARD GONZALES

SUSAN GUTT

PATRICIA HALLORAN

BIANCA HÄRLE

LYNN HARTENBERGER

LINDA HEATH

KATHERINE HOWARD

BARTLEY JOHNSON

EVEY JONES

SUSAN JORDAN

DAISY KATES

JULIANNA KIRWIN

RUDI KLIMPERT

LYNNE KOTTEL

KATRINA LASKO

KATRINA LASKO

JADE LAYVA

MEG LEONARD

JON WILLIAM LOPEZ

GENE McCLAIN

GENE McCLAIN

BARRY McCORMICK

SARENA MANN

TONY PARANÁ-RODRIGUES

GARY W. PRIESTER

MICHAEL PROKOS

GREG REICHE

LAURA ROBBINS

MAGGIE ROBINSON

GARY ROLLER

ANGEL ROSE

RIHA ROTHBERG AND WAYNE MIKOSZ

MARIANA ROUMELL-GASTEYER

GARY SANCHEZ

SHARON SCHWARTZMANN

DIANNA SHOMAKER

BILL SKEES

KATHERINE SLUSHER

LORNA SMITH

CIRRELDA SNIDER-BRYAN

KEVIN TOLMAN

DAWN WILSON-ENOCH

For more great local art, visit
Placitas Artists.com

Featured Artist

  

Maggie Robinson

Maggie Y. Robinson in her studio in Corrales.

Santa Fe Aspens By Maggie Robinson

“Santa Fe Aspens”— Maggie’s award-winning painting.

Painting as a path, as prayer

—Keiko Ohnuma, Signpost

No photograph can accurately reproduce this painting, “Santa Fe Aspens,” which took second place in the Corrales Art Studio Tour in May. At the preview show, it opened a window in the wall, promising entry into a magical way of seeing—before stopping short and, upon further examination, refusing to say more. Its beauty seemed to exist purely for itself, and not the viewer.

Something, anyway, about the painting impressed the artists on the Corrales Studio Tour, the first year prizes were awarded by vote rather than by an outside juror. The painter, Maggie Y. Robinson, was a veteran artist and newcomer to the tour.

“What do you like about the painting?” she quizzes, before discounting its popularity as a mystery. Robinson has, in fact, painted thousands upon thousands of landscapes in her life—so many that she has to recycle them, paint over, and use the backs of gessoed boards just to keep pace. The aspen painting was just one little “noun” in her artist’s life as a verb, she says.

Raised in southeastern Pennsylvania in a rural haven made famous by paintings from the Wyeth family, who were family friends—including Andrew, his son Jamie, and father N.C. —Robinson grew up as the eleventh of fourteen children. Her mother was a classical pianist, two of her brothers became accomplished painters, and the family home was regularly filled with guests, exchange students, missionaries, and friends in a bucolic environment of music, culture, art, and learning.

All of which may help explain Robinson’s startling intensity in a rural haven more typical of the taciturn West. Agile and graceful, radiating goodwill and effortlessly quoting painters, musicians, and writers, Robinson exudes a robust magnetism much like those glowing aspens—inviting, yet ultimately opaque.

Landscape painting, for her, is not about reproducing a beautiful sight, she says. The beauty of the natural world just happens to be the spark she needs to ignite a fire within, to forge a connection to something within herself, which she then engages on the canvas. “It’s almost like a form of meditation, in trying to get rid of mind games and perceiving beauty,” she explains. “And then starting the dialogue with whatever that is.”

The goal is to stay sincere, authentic, true to the creative process, rather than mental and calculating—to remain naked and vulnerable, open to whatever arises from the depths.

“When I look at a piece and say I was sincere, used my skills to the best of my knowledge, and was open to dialogue—both receiving information and skilled enough to know what to implement,” then the painting is a success, and can be let go.

She is not attached to results, Robinson says, and does not care about popularity or sales, any more than she was attached to the outcome of her three grown sons—who happen nonetheless to be practicing law, medicine, and business. You never own children, she says vehemently, and the paintings that you shepherd into the world also are not something whose value accrues to you.

As a child in a large family, Robinson would take refuge in a corner with her crayons, and get lost in self-exploration. This experience has remained the most profound touchstone of her life, and one that she repeats daily, both through her own painting and as an art teacher.

“My most exciting moments have been the same (in both),” she says, “the magic connection of self to expressing beauty.”

There was a point in her life about ten years ago, after raising three kids and while teaching full-time in Minnesota, that she got so burned out that she decided to move to the desert and just paint. She shut herself in her room in Corrales, and refused to so much as look at an art magazine.

“It was terrible!” she exclaims. “I was strangling my creative impulse.” She grew self-critical, judgmental, and couldn’t paint. Finally a friend told her, you need to get back in the classroom.

So Robinson went back to teaching, first in Albuquerque, and currently at Mountain View Middle School in Rio Rancho. She also serves as a placement coordinator in the UNM art education office, and occasionally guest-teaches in art. “The nice, ebullient energy that children have nurtured me back,” she says. “My life is both teaching and painting.”

The difficulty and fear of confronting the self is something that she practices every day, both for herself and for her students. Every morning at 5:00 a.m., Robinson goes outside and does a painting—in oil. “It’s my prayer,” she explains. “When I don’t do it, I’m not kind of centered.”

The plein-air exercises are a legacy of her years as a watercolorist, a medium that she took up in the late ’60s because of the dangers of lead paint during pregnancy. “It’s like a mad mistress,” she says of watercolor, “but I stayed with it for twenty-five years.” About seven years ago, a friend told her she really had the personality of an oil painter, and she gratefully switched back.

Watercolor technique stayed with her, however, so that she still starts by painting washes and values. Once the image is sketched out, she switches to traditional oil paint application—from thin to thick areas, dark to bright colors. Little of the initial wash remains evident in the final canvas, but it is where the dialogue with the painting begins.

The early-morning paintings are done on 8“ x 10“ pieces of Masonite board covered with gesso, and Robinson develops them later on canvas if the “magical moment” happens. “I tend to be a complex thinker, so the work happens before I think about it,” which is the goal—to paint with “the eyes and heart of a child.”

Children tend naturally toward self-exploration, she says, and readily confront the existential question “what is art, and why am I here?” It is that state of not-knowing that she works to revive in her creatively confined students—the child coloring alone in a corner that she herself was.

“That is why I am comfortable going to the woods at 5:00 a.m.”—because it is in childhood that one develops the sense so crucial to the creative life: that it is always permissible to return to the self.

“That’s one of the cool things about making a pie or a painting, about making love,” Robinson says, contrasting the overprotected childhood of today to the freedoms of the past. “It’s that switch from depressed victim to celebration—that’s how you raise kids to be human.” By example, in other words: making art that is not about a product, but a process; not nouns, but verb.

 

     

Top

TOP OF PAGE

     

Ad Rates  Back Issues  Contact Us  Front Page  Up Front  Animal News   Around Town  Arts At Home Business Classifieds Calendar  Community Bits  Community Center   Eco-Beat  Featured Artist  The Gauntlet Health  Community Links  Night Sky  My Wife and Times  Public Safety Puzzles Real People Schoolbag Stereogram  Time Off