Monday, November 16, 2009
Atelier Robyn Gordon!
Robyn Gordon is a wood carving artist and enthusiastic creative explorer who creates totems and panels and writes the blog Art Propelled. Robyn’s blog is rich and diverse. She features her own carvings reflecting her love of nature and the land of South Africa where she lives. Robyn also blogs about the creative process and her influences. As well, she introduces her readers to art work of other artists she discovers. Robyn’s blog is like a fabulous university course in art appreciation focused on contemporary art in many mediums. Robyn graciously agreed to be interviewed for this post of Textures Shapes and Color.
When and how did you first know you were an artist?
My earliest memory is of my mom teaching me to make a crazy patchwork "quilt" with her dressmaking scraps. I was almost 3 and the woman next door was expecting a baby and this was to be my gift to the new baby. It was the most wondrous feeling handing over this rudimentary piece of patchwork which I had stitched from the scraps on the sewing room floor.
What sustains your artistic practice? What activity renews you and your art practice so you return to your work with renewed enthusiasm?
At the top of my list, being out in nature renews me for everything in life. Spending 3 or 4 days near the ocean or walking in the mountains, exploring forests and streams will replenish me for months on end. Even sitting in my garden listening to the sighing of the stream will energize me. Books, especially art books have always inspired me and renewed my enthusiasm and now the internet is boosting my enthusiasm too.... though I really do have to find the balance. Too much time spent on the internet can drain one of every ounce of energy.
What is it about your medium of wood that calls your name?
I often think of this and can't quite put my finger on it. As a child on the farm I loved the outdoors. I loved to touch and feel nature in my hands. The smoothness of acorns and pebbles, the roughness of bark, the hollowness of a birds nest, the graininess of river sand.....anything tactile under my hands. When I was allowed to use my mom’s carving chisels at a young age I found that I could create many tactile qualities in the wood myself. Magic!
And what is this about your Mom carving? What did she make?
Nothing! Poor Mom hated carving. Tried it once and put the chisels aside ... and there they were winking at me.
Robyn, did you go to art school, or are you self taught?
I'm self taught.... a process of trial and error.
If you could visit and learn at the studio of one artist, past or present, who would it be and why?
Cecil Skotnes, because he was the first sculptor I admired. He is one of the reasons my wood carving turned into a passion.
Is there one art book you would recommend to other artists?
At the risk of repeating myself over and over, I always recommend 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women by Gail McMeekin.
What story are you telling with your art?
I suppose I am telling the story of my life in South Africa. The niche carvings hold objects that are of the land (pebbles, bones, cowries, driftwood etc.), symbols of Africa (beadwork, arrowheads, tiny stone carvings), symbols of my British ancestry (silver teaspoons, Minton china shards). The totems "speak" of the legends that have been passed down from one generation to the next. The patterns, objects, symbols are all of this land. No matter what tribe we belong to we who were born in this country belong here and make South Africa what it is.
How has blogging helped you grow as an artist?
Blogging has been like an epiphany! It feeds my art and my art feeds my blogging. It has opened my world and suddenly I know that hundreds, thousands.... millions of artists go through all the emotions that I do. The anxieties, insecurities, challenges, transitions, blocks, issues, moodlings ...... and the euphoria. It's comforting to know that I'm normal ....relatively speaking.
Thank you Robyn! If you would like to see more of Robyn’s work, images are at her photo stream here on Flicker. And if you enjoy the art work she “curates” for her blog, you might enjoy her Flicker Favorites here.