Life,  Reviews

Art By Dan Robbins

This beautiful painting caught my eye on Instagram when @gembocakes posted a portrait by her friend Dan Robbins,. Really pulled me in, loving his work, needed to know more and luckily Dan had plenty to say about it!

Words by Dan

I’ve always painted and although I did a Degree as a mature student I was well set in my ways by then. The Degree didn’t make much of a difference. I’d done a foundation course years before but afterwards I kept working on my own volition.

Changing Mediums

Changing mediums has been a revolution to me.

Two years ago, after years of patiently creeping along the path towards a finished oil canvas, slavishly applying layer after layer for months on end, suddenly my acceptance of water based mediums meant I could complete a piece in days, hours even. And with that came a rejection of my old ideas and concepts. I realised I didn’t care about categories, a piece was what it was. Not what it was painted on or with!

That didn’t determine how successful a piece was, the criteria was how exciting it was. I now pushed form and content so that boundaries and borders blurred. I didn’t reject drawing or skills, rather I mutated them, accepting that to distort elements took them to closer to what I wished to describe, by departing from a faithful visual recreation I was getting a more honest representation of the experience. My subject is the reality of the experience through the filer of me, my instincts and talents. The recording of the parameters of the physical space is only a part, the more indefinable emotional impact is where the artistic translation comes to play.

What is Art

I’m not so interested in the term art, in fact I have very little interest in defining it. I’m not looking down or askance at it, its that the time I take pondering on it would be better spent making it. Whatever ‘it’ is!

I’m not particularly interested in distinctions, renaissance art, comic books, advertising photography, Neolithic cave painting…its all images…and I love images! Particularly ones that excite me with colour, shapes, light, dynamism and beauty. I love the heightened reality of film, its great to see the play of light and colour on a huge screen.


Why faces? I love the poetry of the face, the relationship between the features, the drama of expression. The arrangements of features on an individual’s face creates an intense reaction in me.  Again, I’m not so sure how much I care for the term portrait, certainly I’m a long way removed from a commercial portrait painter. Its a perfectly honourable pursuit but my interests lie elsewhere. I’m using the face as a vehicle for my vision. Everyone is a character in the huge dramatic production I’m creating, the landscapes are my sets.


I’ve really been able to explore my interest in landscape recently. A freer, more expressive approach has allowed me to work faster and allowed me to take more chances than if I were to be working with oils and canvas. I paint pretty much exclusively local scenes. I like to restrict myself in that way. In addition to creating from my environment and describing my world, I’m also testing my resourcefulness, seeing what I can create with a limited number of elements.

I’m drawn to places where the remnants of the industrial past remain. I like to feel the atmosphere of the past, it places the present in a larger context, shows the ghosts that we all will become.

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