Robin Walker was born in 1963 in Phoenix, Arizona and grew up in Southern California before immigrating to Canada after marrying her husband out of college. Together, they began an adventurous life studying across Canada and the US and living in Venezuela for many years before returning to Canada 18 years ago. For the past 11 years, Robin, her husband Tim and their five children have called Clearwater home.
Robin has developed a sense of herself as an artist over the course of her life. As a teenager, it was how she formed her identify, and how she began to look at the world. Upon graduating high school, she received the Sword and Shield Art Award. However, her life took her on many wonderful journeys with her family, including homeschooling her five children, which did not provide the time necessary to focus and invest in producing art. It was not until 5 years ago that she began to paint seriously. “It’s almost like it was in there waiting,” Robin says. What a testament to her gift to have it be released in such a marvelous and beautiful way.
Her medium of choice is oil and the majority of her subject matter reflects her surroundings. “I feel like I really have to have a connection with what I’m painting, it can’t just be something out of a magazine, although a few times I have painted pictures that really grabbed me, but I like to paint things that I connect with.” For example, all of her winter paintings are places along the trails where she cross country skis. “Most of my paintings are like that, it is a connection I have with something. That’s why it is hard for me to sell my paintings because they are sort of like an autobiography. If my kids want to know where I have been in life, they can have my paintings because that is telling of where I have been.”
Along with the subject matter that inspires the paintings themselves, Robin is equally influenced by art created by others. One of her first artist mentors was Colleen Stewart from Fort St. James who inspired her to begin underpainting with colours. “She never mentored me intentionally, I just admired her work so much.” She is also influenced by the Impressionists and The Group of Seven. “I look at their work a lot and I have seen a lot of their original work. I try to expand my view. The more you paint and the more you learn the more you see when you look at a painting.”
In the last year, Robin joined the Federation of Canadian Artists. She meets with the Kamloops chapter regularly. She was recently juried into the second level within the Federation which opened up new opportunities to have her paintings be a part of different art shows across Canada. Two of her paintings were recently shown in Kelowna at the Rotary Centre for the Arts. “This was a big deal for me,” Robin says, “I feel like that was a huge step.”
As she has blossomed into a full time artist, her family has been incredibly supportive. When she began to paint and the only space available was their living room floor, her husband custom built her a private studio attached to their home and her 5 children have definitely come around to the idea of identifying their mother as an artist. “At first some of my kids didn’t appreciate all the time I was spending on my art,” Robin laughs, “but I have seen a change where they honour it now. They tell their friends ‘My mom is an artist’ and whenever someone comes to our house they bring them to the studio to show them what I am working on. They are proud of me.”
Robin has been selected as the feature artist for this year’s Clearwater Children’s Art Festival in Clearwater, BC. Robin’s involvement with the festival is in line with her passion for children and art that runs deep. “Children are so free. We could learn a lot from how kids approach art. They are not inhibited like adults.” She remembers one day when she had several people come through her studio and it was the children who she appreciated the most. “I felt like they looked at my art more than anyone else, they were really looking at it, they were seeing something. Lots of people just walked by and didn’t know what to look at or how to look at it, but children seem to have more natural intuition of just looking and studying and seeing art for what it is which I love.”
As the feature artist of this year’s Clearwater Children’s Art Festival, children will have a chance to paint with Robin, along with many other artists who will be sharing their talents with children for this event. Visual art, theatre and music are all included in this year’s festival. “I am so happy to be involved. I learn so much from the kids and I enjoy it so much because there are so many unbelievably talented children here that just haven’t developed it yet. You can see it. They are seeing things, they are seeing beauty and are seeing perspective. The event is a great way for kids to not feel any pressure, it is free, they can come and go and choose what they want to do and have the freedom and all the supplies provided. It is very special and a huge asset to our community. It is a privilege to be involved.”
Robin feels that she is only beginning her journey as an artist. “I feel like I still have so much in me that hasn’t come out. It’s almost like I can see what I want to do but I am not there yet. There is so much I want to explore in terms of different techniques. I don’t know what type of style I am going to develop into, but I know when I am inspired by something so I just follow that. I follow what I feel strongly about; different styles and different subject matter. I am totally open to develop further.”
Her most recent painting is the Clearwater skyline of Raft Mountain Peak and the Trophy Mountains. “I want to capture what this area is about and I thought of that skyline and thought ‘I have to paint that.’ I want to represent this area. I want it to be painted.”
When you are in the presence of Robin’s paintings, you are in the presence of beauty; the beauty that is revealed in every hidden corner of this Earth, in the water, the sky, the ground, and in people. “Beauty is so hopeful,” claims Robin, “It is evidence that there is something good, that it is not all bad. The beauty we find around us is continual evidence that there is something good at the heart of it all.”
Along with the many art experiences available throughout the day, a selection of Robin’s paintings will be on display at the Clearwater Children’s Art Festival happening on Wednesday August 5, 2015, 10am-3pm at the Dutch Lake Community Centre field.
Robin’s paintings are for sale in Clearwater at the Red Umbrella Gallery. You can also view her work on her website at www.iam-art.ca and contact her directly to inquire about purchasing individual pieces.
Robin Walker paints out of her home studio in Clearwater, BC.