Read our delightful interview with respected and popular artist Maggie Robinson. Maggie is having her first solo exhibition with us from 23rd March to 14th April. Join us for wine and snacks at her preview on Friday March 23rd from 5:00-8:00pm:
- Why did you decide to become an artist?
For many of my early years I was able to enjoy a love of artistic and creative activities. I was fortunate to grow up in a very musical family and initially it was music that was at the heart of my development and this remained my priority until I was in my early thirties. However, I had studied art at school to A level and seemed to have an ongoing inner conflict that although I longed to paint more I had to focus on either one or the other in order for me to really progress. It wasn’t until I realised that I had reached my potential with music, (playing the piano and the viola), that I started to join art groups and became overwhelmingly enthusiastic about the possibilities I had with studying art further and so the gradual switch over to painting was made! I have never looked back. For me, it is a way of saying something that cannot be expressed with words. I want to create paintings that are full of joy, bringing harmony and beauty into the lives of those who view them.
- What inspires you?
I am deeply affected by the landscape of ‘home’. Having grown up in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park my childhood was all about the moors, the colours, the heather, the summers and the winters. I adored it! Over the years I have also spent many holidays in the Lake District, in Scotland and now of course I live on the border of the Peak District and it is these places that continually fill my heart. For me, I have to have lived, loved, trodden the earth, made memories with family and friends in the landscape in order for me to be able to express something about it. I have to have become a part of that landscape so that its natural beauty has enhanced meaning for me.
- What medium of art do you prefer? Why?
The only medium that really suits me is acrylic because every piece of my work has many layers of paint. I do not have the end product in mind when I start, just a sense of the type of painting I am aiming for as part of the body of work I am developing at the time. This means that there will be many adjustments along the way as I gradually cover up parts that are not working or try to make the colour balance work. It is a bit like writing a book – the characters are introduced, the plot develops, some become important, some are removed and the whole story is built towards a conclusion that leaves a sense of completion and hopefully satisfaction! I could not develop work in this way with watercolour and I am certainly not patient enough for oils!
- Which artist inspires you the most and how have they influenced your work?
Over the years I have been inspired by so many different artists and have always tried to identify for myself the elements from each one that I relate to. Initially I was mad about the Cubists and really fell in love with Georges Braque (who was also a musician!) and
I still have huge admiration for Picasso. I loved their way of seeing – the ability to use the subject to create a new image – not to represent the subject in a literal way. I then moved through a number of Fauvists such as Andre Derain and Matisse whose use of unnatural colour somehow made me see colour in its own right and inspired me to study it in much more depth so that I understood how it worked and what impact it could make.
More recently artists such as Howard Hodgkin, Barbara Rae and Ivon Hitchens have all inspired my more courageous use of colour and expressive marks.
- What do you regard as the key benefit of your workshops to participants?
I have been teaching about painting for over 25 years and have worked with many different artists, both beginners and experienced from many countries having been invited to tutor on painting holidays for many years in France, so I have plenty of experience in adapting to the needs of individuals! My philosophy is to help equip each individual to find their own voice as artists. I teach principles not tricks so that each person can apply the information and knowledge to their particular line of interest and develop their own style. Having strived and struggled with so many issues myself I have a deep understanding of the highs and lows of mastering technique and trying to find that individual way, but I love it! It gives me huge pleasure to inspire and encourage artists on their journey. We all thrive on encouragement!
- What advice would you give to prospective artists who want to attend your workshops?
I would want them to know from the start that I have no intention of encouraging them to paint like me – I would want them to come prepared to allow me to help them discover more about themselves and their own journey and through our working on a particular aspect of painting see how I can help them incorporate some helpful information into their own work.
A few years back I began writing a book entitled ‘You are the Artist’, it hasn’t been completed because it seems that I have been visiting many art groups delivering my message personally instead.
- What do you regard as your major achievement? Please elaborate.
I don’t honestly feel I have had a major achievement – just a whole series of encouragements along the way that at each stage have given me a huge boost! These started back in the 1990’s when I had 3 paintings accepted for The Society of Women Artists Exhibition held, back then, in Westminster. The first time in a London Gallery was so exciting and I have continued periodically over the years to exhibit with them. My latest ‘boost’ is to have had a work accepted for the Royal Society of British Artists (RBA) Exhibition this year to be held in the Mall Galleries in March. These I consider to be external encouragements and achievements that play a huge part in building confidence and self-belief which so often we lack.
More importantly for me however, as an artist, is the fact that without going to art college and having only a small input from tutors over the years I have found my own voice and have found a confidence to express what is truly me.
When I first embarked upon landscape painting about 6 years ago I can remember being out in the hills somewhere and thinking to myself ‘How on earth do I express in paint what I see and feel out here’? I think through sheer hard work I am slowly beginning to get there and this is for me a major achievement!
- What awards/prizes have you received?
I still await that treat! Perhaps I am only just beginning to get to that point where it might become a possibility — one day?!
- Where do you see yourself going from here – future goals/ new areas to explore/ different direction, etc?
I can only take one stage at a time with my work, I cannot rush the process, it just has to slowly develop so that I can be consistent in all that I do. My main goal is to produce more and more pieces that are a celebration of me as an English artist interpreting the beautiful English countryside! I don’t know where it will take me – I don’t intend changing direction because having come so far I am now having to dig deeper to produce these works and it is in that process that I feel I find more to say and create and am developing in technique and creative expression. ‘The music of the landscape’ will live on, I hope, for the foreseeable future!