I had the most energy-filled, vibrant, and nurturing of interviews with artist and soul-connected friend, Brenda Robinson.
You see, I’d met Brenda a few months ago when we took a class with Michelle Giambra at Suncoast Jin Shin Jyutsu in Sarasota. And from our initial meeting I had felt a connectedness with her, but I didn’t know why. Before we left that day, she had shown Michelle and I a recent copy of one of her paintings and it literally sent a rush of energy through my body, yes, just holding that piece of paper! I’d never felt, what I term as “God bumps“, just from holding a piece of paper before, so immediately I knew there was something special here–and that I wanted to speak with Brenda more about her art.
When I learned that Brenda was showing her art at a new gallery in Lakewood Ranch, I knew it would be a great time to go see her, and hopefully interview her about her beautiful and colorful artwork.
I only had to ask Brenda one question and our conversation flowed with so much ease and connectedness that she nearly answered all of my questions without my needing to ask many more.
So, what was that first question?
Well, I asked Brenda what inspires her when she gets up in the morning to create her art, does a muse strike, or does an idea come when she sits down with a blank canvas?
In Brenda’s humble and gracious answer, she said:
To sit down with a blank canvas is the scariest thing, and I fought that for a long, long time.
I used to do workshops creating altered books by taking old, unloved, throw-away books and turning them into beautiful works of art. The ultimate in recycling.
One of the first books I found at Goodwill was called, “Jumping for Joy” and after altering it and turning it into a beautiful art-filled memory, I painted the cover blue.
Some books have old, thin pages, or new books with flimsy pages or unstable spines. So, you take these kinds of otherwise unusable books, and glue pages together, or staple or sew on them, and draw or paint on them. You’ll blank out some of the words you don’t need or want, paint on the page, write on the painted page and create a journal, put your own photos inside, rendering a new kind of artwork.
I got a bit caught up in the moment when we talked about drawing though, because I’ve never considered myself as able to draw (as I’m married to a man who can draw, hence, I understand the ability and talent involved in that). So, when I told Brenda that I can’t draw she was quick to say, “Yes, you can”, “Oh, yes, you can draw.” And proceeded to give me all kinds of tips to inspire me to start–even after we concluded our interview.
Brenda really has a way of making you feel that you can do what she does! She told me a face I might draw will be my face, different from the way someone else would draw a face. Just like, God made a leaf, then any leaf I would draw would be my leaf, my interpretation of that leaf. Ahh! What an eye-opening moment for me!
Continuing on, Brenda explained,
I painted a dog for Southeastern Guide Dogs “Heroes on Parade” last year, and by the way, “Doc” came in third place out of over 50 painted dogs. He is now living in the lobby of Doctor’s Hospital, bringing joy to all who come into the front lobby. During that project, I had all this paint so I started slapping the paint on canvases and started making my imaginary flower garden. In this case, the Superhero dogs were my muse. Now, I’m not a landscape or flower type artist, and a purist probably wouldn’t like my flowers because my rose wouldn’t look like their rose.
What style or type of art do you like?
I love Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin (the French post-Impressionist artist). If you look at his work, and the colors he uses, he was inspired by the gorgeous colors of Tahiti, it’s people and environment. I like Monet and all the texture of the impressionists. There was movement in their art. I didn’t know that’s why I liked it. But, it spoke to me.
Some of my all time favorite artists are: collagist, Romare Bearden, story teller and installation artist, Whitfield Lovell, and the multicolored art of Louis Delsarte.
I continue to be inspired by other contemporary artists that are too numerous to mention.
My art breathes and tells a story, there’s always a story. There is life in that memory of remembering.
Going back to the altered books.
One of the first things I used was the old time handkerchiefs that we used to iron because they brought me joy, and this book was filled with all of the symbols of what was joyful to me.
I used one with decorative edges. Fun! Also, I love butterflies, so I cut the shape of a butterfly within many of the pasted pages using an X-Acto knife and cut it so the wings would flutter. There were pages that were glued together. Some pages contained Bible verses, and song titles, such as my mother’s favorite song, “In the Garden.” [Author’s note: That was also my mother’s favorite song! Ah, synchronicity!]
There were pages with rocks on them and the words, “If you don’t praise Him the rocks will cry out to Him” and put angels on it too. One of the pages had blood on it, so I added the words, “The debt was paid in full” with a receipt from one of those receipt booklets added to the page.
Another cool thing about creating these altered books was that we’d have a group of seven people and we’d send our book to another and that person would take their turn to add to your book, and so on to another person. When you’d get your book back you’d have seven different people’s art in your book. I still have almost all of those altered books!
Now, some people don’t have patience, or want to be too exact. But not me, I’m free flowing and easy about it. If I thought I did something wrong or didn’t like what I’d created, I would just paint over it!
We looked at several of Brenda’s paintings and discussed what we see in each of them. Everyone sees different things in art, which is why I love it so much, and this is something (among many things) that Brenda and I share in common.
Brenda’s work is always spiritual. In her own words,
Painting is praying with my heart and hands. Using them to help the viewer see the common threads between us all.
God is the ultimate creator, we are made in His image. And He’s given us the glorious task of representing him on earth.
I paint how it feels to me to listen to a beautiful song, what joy feels like, hope, sadness, or grief. Painting is my response to the messy middle of our color-filled world. Color is my way of communicating. I feel most alive when I am being creative and painting! I try to capture the energy of our common humanity, where we can connect our spirits through art and show that we are more alike than different. When I complete a piece of art, I am in awe of what my Creator has allowed me to share.
This morning, Brenda woke up with Marvin Gaye’s song on her mind, “What’s going on.” And that inspired her this morning. Whatever is going on in the community or the world right now, that’s what inspires her to paint. She writes prayers and verses on the canvas first, before she starts, and she’ll paint over them. It is important for her to have her DNA all over the canvas. And for me, as a writer and energy medicine person, the vibration of the words, they’re still there and they call me in.
I invite you to visit Brenda’s art display and spend some time to visit with her work and look for the aliveness she presents.
Please visit Brenda’s blog at: http://rubysdaughterbrenda.blogspot.com
Brenda’s website is: http://www.brendakrobinson.com
Brenda is currently displaying several pieces of her art at:
8131 Lakewood Main Street
Suite M-106 (It’s on the corner)
Lakewood Ranch, FL
I must tell you that upon stepping into J & J Gallery, I was warmly greeted (by Judy, the owners mother), and I sensed a lightness. The gallery is very expansive and energetically inviting.
Before I left, I had the opportunity to talk with Judy about the opening of the gallery and several of the artists displaying works there. It is a family gallery, so you will not see nudes there. The gallery also looks for artworks that are of an uplifting and positive nature. Thus, my visit to J & J Gallery left me with a huge amount of heartfelt appreciation for the owners and the artists. I highly recommend you stop in for a visit.