You know how every once and awhile you just give up and start following every single person Instagram suggests and then months later you realize that you’ll never keep up and you go through and unfollow half as many? It was during one of these waves that I came across Australian artist Brad Robson. Robson paints mainly in acrylics and oils and uses the uncommon tools super familiar to those of us who live in mixed media (squeegees, rollers, etc). He paints large. Something I didn’t fully appreciate until looking into his work. His work goes so large in fact that he’s a muralist. If a wall is your canvas, you win the painting big award.
Robson looks like an artist. He’s sort of everything an artist should be if you were writing about what an artist should be. And this works to the advantage of anyone who admires his work as I certainly do. I love his Vimeo channel and will hope that he will continue to add to its library. Watch him paint this amazing portrait of Christopher Walken.
Christopher Walken portrait from Brad Robson on Vimeo. What I love particularly about Robson’s work is his sense of abstraction and graphic-ness. The latter makes sense since he studied graphic design and later taught it at Commercial Arts Training College in Sydney. You can feel that in his work in the best way.
His subject matter is across the board, which to an artist like me, that is a reminder that that’s OK. I self consciously step between faces (human and animal) and florals and wonder what the hell I’m doing. I don’t step as deftly as Robson, but it’s encouraging to see that it can be done.
His urban landscapes burst with energy in a way that I think abstracted landscapes do their best.
His portrait style tends to go a bit more abstracted that I connect to but on the occasion he’s more figurative and less abstract, they are some of my favorite out there. (Again, that Christopher Walken portrait, swoon.)
And then there are his abstracts. Soft edges and seemingly chaotic line. Oh I love line.
What I'm learning from Robson:
1. It’s OK to paint across several subject matters. Your style doesn’t have to be 100% consistent across them. (You can obviously see his hand in each of them but they are not 100% the same.)
2. Layers layers layers. Robson clearly paints things out. That painting over creates depth.
3. Use Facebook: Robson posts almost every day and sometimes multiple times. You get a real sense of what he’s working on. The pictures are always beautiful.
4. Get into the studio and paint: From the Create or Die interview, Robson’s advice to artists: “I kicked myself in the ass and chose to paint every day – just go there and work. Don’t have expectations, just go there and work. The work is it’s own reward.”