Ingenious Figurative & Still Life Work by Nadine Robbins

Jan 17, 2017 4:52PM

ACS Magzine July-August 2016 Issue - published by Renée LaVerné Rose (Publisher & Editor-in-Chief).


Nadine Robbins 

Nadine Robbins is an oil painter and photographer who merges traditional painting techniques, photography and design concepts to create ingenious figurative and still life paintings. Influenced by artists including Dalí, Liebovitz, and Holbein, her work is infused with emotion, alive, authentic, and full of wit. Nadine shares “I always find it hard to define what type of artist I am because I feel I’m always evolving. That being said, right now I can say I’m a contemporary painter with good visual instincts and a sense of humor with roots in classical painting.”

Nadine grew up in Southern France where her artist mother introduced her to the works of many artists. In the beginning of her career, she studied graphic design in the US and in London, achieving considerable success, and founding her own firm in New York City. During this time, she developed her fine art by merging her experiences as a designer with her long standing interest in portraiture into a large scale series of paintings called 8 Portrait Peaces. On a whim, she entered several of them into the Royal Society of Portrait Painters’ juried exhibition and was accepted twice. Encouraged by this, she chose to further her painting skills by spending two (2) years working full-time on traditional oil painting techniques.

Her work has been published in the Huffington Post, American Art Collector, Crain’s Chicago Business, Fine Art Connoisseur, Poets and Artists and Artsy.  In addition, her work can be found in national and international collections, most notably the Howard A. & Judith Tullman Collection in Chicago.

Tell us about your artistic process for creating your body of works. How much time to you spend in the studio?  “Each painting is unique. For the portraits, I always begin with the search for interesting people as subjects. I ask clients, friends, family, or collectors if they want to participate. I’ll also hire models or approach strangers. Everyone is always very receptive which is really fun. For the oyster paintings, I begin by purchasing several dozen fresh oysters and start schucking. When I photograph people, I’m pretty casual about it. I try not to overthink it. Lots of great surprises can happen when you let go of control and lots of characteristics naturally emerge. For the oysters, my approach is faster and methodical. Once they are open, I photograph them quickly because I don’t want them to go bad. Also, I have an ulterior motive. I want to eat them. I would never waste a fresh oyster! After lengthy editing, I choose one image that I’ll carefully transfer onto canvas by projecting it and using a pencil to draw in the basic outline. I then paint a final detailed outline and block-in a thin layer of oil. Finally, I proceed to the main layer of thicker oil. Each painting can take anywhere from a few weeks to three (3) months or more depending on the size and complexity so I try to paint at least three (3) solid days in a row and two (2) half days every week. There’s never enough time!”

Nadine feels everyday there’s something that influences her. In the past, both her mother and mother-in-law were painters and each of them imparted their love for portraiture and art to her in various ways. They introduced her to artists like Dali and Sargent and the joy of going to museums. Being voted best artist in elementary school was encouraging too!  Nadine is inspired by all the art she sees either online or in real life. Going to the openings of friends and new artists always gets her all jazzed up and ready to get back into the studio. Recently, Nadine was reviewing her artist statement for a grant application and wanted to dig deeper as to why she is so drawn to portraiture and photography. Nadine could not put her finger on it. While painting several portraits for a Disco themed show called Freak Out at Zhou B Art Center in Chicago, she finally figured it out. Back in the 70’s and 80’s before CDs, vinyl album covers and the liners were like pieces of art she could look at and enjoy while listening to the music. Many of those covers were portraits infused with stories.

Nadine would like to convey to the audience a familiar and relatable narrative in her portraits, the power and presence of a nude, and the seductive taste of a juicy oyster. Nadine wants the viewer to come away with an understanding of who they just looked at, to be more comfortable with the nude body, and the flavors of the sea.

In 2008, Nadine began a body of work for a solo show called 8 Portrait Peaces to figure out if she wanted to pursue an art career in portrait painting. In 2010 and 2011, two of the paintings The Rolling Buns and Acacia and the Bowman were accepted into the Royal Portrait Society in London. Nadine was highly encouraged by this. Recently, her portrait Sativa Sunrise was accepted to the 2015 Mod Portrait show in Spain. It was a real boost to her ego and the professional impact remains to be seen. However, Nadine also feels that every show she is in has an impact on her career. She meets new people and like-minded artists and get a better understanding of their unique works. It also helps Nadine navigate and better understand the art world.

Lady Marmalade, 36” x24”, Oil on Linen by Nadine Robbins

Read the entire article of the ingenious figurative and still life work of Nadine Robbins in the ACS Magazine July/August 2016 Issue starting on page 162 at Renée LaVerné Rose (Publisher & Editor-in-Chief).