The Art of Robin Baratta

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Newsletter September

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What's On My Easel?

Working titles are Hamilton Road Pump House, and Corn As High As An Elephant's Eye.
The sketches have been transferred, now it's time for the work to begin, the barely begun sky is for another that I'm still developing a sketch for.

So what's going on in my life...
 Along Carriage Road  was accepted into the STEPAC In View Of The Artist Show, opening Saturday September 28, 1-3. I'm in some pretty prestigious company with this one!

I also have a much revised version of Don's Dang Hill,
and new this month Morganstern Line, both 12x2 going into the Art With Panache Square Show. opening September 19th.
Where The Road Dips,and Memories Of Summer both found new homes this month. Fortunately for me the collector who has purchased both Where The Road Dips, and Elgin Panorama, has promised to let me borrow back the works for my Solo at STEPAC, opening May 2 to June 13 and of course I'm working furiously on new work for it .
 Corn and Beans, 12x16 is another addition to the collection, with a larger version of Morganstern Line (Memories of Chester) also almost completed that makes my countdown...

Weeks to solo 30, weeks to self imposed deadline 17
works completed 13 of 15-20!

Since a lot of the work is on the smaller side, lets just say...


13 of 20 completed.

See ya next month


Monday, August 5, 2019

Newsletter August 2019

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What's On My Easel This Month?

Almost Done, Memories Of Chester

Chester Anderson was the guy who introduced me to both the Dorchester Artist's Network, and to Port Stanley Artists Guild, he had a profound influence on me that you can read about here. After his recent funeral I went back to a few of the places we had both painted and did some sketching, this is the result of one of those sketches.  It's not quite done, it's given me a bit of a hard time, kind of like Chester himself, lol, but it's a whisper away from finished.
What makes this especially poignant, is that the centuries old maple in my painting has fallen over in the ensuing weeks, another fallen giant.

On a cheerier note I've had a successful run at the Westland Square Foot Show, Antler River Spring, and Mow Lines have both found new homes, and the show's not over until Aug 9th, so if you get a chance get to Wortley Village and see the show. Don's Dang Hill is still there,
it would be nice to have it find a home too. Thank you Westland.

Sumac Lace #3 has also found a new home, thank you Art Emporium.

This month I have submissions to make to both St Thomas Elgin Public Art Center (STEPAC), and Art With Panache in London. Chester will be going to London and Where The Road Dips will go to ST Thomas.

Also on the easel -I work on a couple of paintings at once, drying time being what it is-
sketches transferred to terraskin, and Plein Aire initial sketches. add to my tally, Going Down The Line


Solo Show Count Down 

Weeks to self imposed deadline 21, Weeks to opening 33,

Works completed 11, Works needed minimum 15-20 (more if smallish)

Back to work for this girl!!!


Thursday, June 13, 2019

My Mentor-Chester Anderson

When I first moved to Belmont one of the first people I met was Chester.
I'd spoken at the horticultural club and in the conversation I mentioned art, no surprise, most conversations eventually get there, lol.
Dinah Lee consequently introduced her husband  and I, and a mentorship was born. 
Some mentors are teachers first, there is a long tradition in the arts of the teacher/mentor, others are more of a guide, introducing the fledgling to people, organizations, and concepts. Chester was of the latter type.  He was a bit crusty, but I've always liked crusty, it keeps you on your toes.
Chester introduced me to the Dorchester Artist Network, a small group that met in the basement of  Thelma, it's founder. We had a show each year, and encouraged each other, but that was about it, which for a group of about 15 people was good.
After a while Chester took me with him to a Port Stanley Guild meeting, where a much larger group of about 40 were doing educational programs, as well as a show, larger and grander than Dorchester, though not as large and grand as it is now, but that after all was over 15 years ago...
The thread of life unspools, first Sandy, then Thelma passed, and the Dorchester group disbanded.  Chester, already elderly and not well, eventually stopped going to art groups, and I'm ashamed to say I didn't stay in touch. a couple of years ago he went into long term care.  This spring they held an art show just for Chester, I didn't go as I was teaching that afternoon in another long term care facility. I hope he received my well wishes, I truly regret not being able to deliver them myself. 
I never told Chester how much he meant to me, how his faith in my abilities, and support changed my life, now, it's too late.
I stopped in to his funeral today, gave Dinah Lee a hug but I didn't stay.  I didn't see any of the art crowd there, but  then again most of the Dorchester group are gone, and I'm not sure how many of the current Port group would remember Chester.
I for one will never forget him.
Afterwards I took my pastels and revisited some of the places we had sketched and painted. It seemed the most fitting way to remember him.
I think that when I work the sketches up into paintings, one will have to be named for him, my way of memorializing a kindred soul, Chester. 

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Back In The Saddle

I did something foolish, and paid the price....
If you know me you know I have a big beautiful rescue dog. He was largely untrained when we got him, a bit on the wild side, but smart, and eager the please.
Oak quickly became my Velcro dog, and with lots of patience and firm loving leadership has become a wonderful boy.
We firmly believe that a well exercised dog is a good dog, so we walk, a lot, and fast, almost to a jog.
Bare with me I'm setting the stage here.
He no longer pulls on the lead, or reacts to everything with fur, feathers or wheels, but that doesn't mean he's not aware of his surroundings, unlike his dog mom, who on the day in question was totally oblivious to the world around her. Instead I was obsessing about everything I had to do in the month of May, my schedule for painting for my up coming solo show, elder care, teaching etc etc.
Oak stopped to look at a rabbit.
 It was like hitting a brick wall at high speed, I fell right over top of him, landed on my face, smashed my glasses and knocked myself silly.
Three weeks in I'm just beginning to get back to work.
I've never had to deal with a concussion before, It's unbelievably frustrating, in fact I'm typing while looking out the window, because doing more than glancing at the screen is impossible still.
Miss Dakin the typing teacher would be so proud lol.
I tried going back into my studio last week, and made such a mess of that painting that I've had to start over again, not to worry I'll be able to salvage parts of the original. The beauty of working on terraskin is that I can chop it up.
Having nothing to do for three weeks has an upside. I set a bunch of paintings that just hadn't lived up to their potential up to look at, and eventually found a fix for each of them. I also realized that there were things I wanted to change in my current direction, and developed ideas to implement those changes.
So thank you rabbit, I maybe even further behind, but in many ways it's put me ahead!

UPDATE 4 months in.
I've been forced to learn how to say no, something I've always had trouble with, and I've had to learn also how to slow down, stop, think, and re think. I've learned-the hard way-to review every move, concentrate on each step, go through the check lists I devised for my students on composition and colour relationships. In someways all of this learning and relearning is making me a better artist, refocusing on basics while still experimenting with my technique.
The physical symptoms of concussion, or more properly post concussion syndrome, are slowly abating, some of them may always be with me. This is my new reality. The vertigo sucks, as do days when my eyes decide to work independent of each other, but I will never give up. I just go slower and more carefully. The muses must have thought I needed to refocus, no doubt they know best LOL.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Exciting busy stressful times

Well this is interesting, I’ve just discovered a back door into my blog that is iPhone compatible. It’s not as convenient as the old app (which no longer works) , but it does give me access.
So what’s going on in my world... I’m terrifically busy getting work ready for my solo show at the Art Center next May. Everyone keeps saying you’ve got a year! The truth is though I don’t. Work has to be ready for the catalog in less than a year from now, I have to have 12-15 large pieces done, so far I have 4 done, and one well under way. May is a crazy month, art shows, appointments, teaching, and a long weekend mean I’m getting up at 6:00 each day to get a few hours in so I meet my monthly goal of at lest one large and one medium size painting. Have I mentioned I’m not a fast painter?  Layers need time to dry. I’ve learned the hard way there’s no shortcuts.
I wouldn’t change my crazy lifestyle, but there are times when I wonder about myself lol.
I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given, both teaching Alzheimer’s Art, and shows, both are gratifying though in very different ways.
If you want the latest updates you better follow me on Instagram @robinexpressivebrush, and/or signup for my newsletter. I have lots of new art to show, and it’s all on both of them.

Thursday, July 5, 2018


A beautiful soul, touched my life, and has gone.
Spencer just appeared one day. My 17 year old son brought him home from a farm he'd been working on. I was told the 1.5 year old dog was going to be either destroyed,  or abandoned somewhere if he didn't take it. The pup was skinny and afraid of everything, so how could I say no...
When my son got his own apartment, the dog went with him, they were bonded so tight that unless the boy was at work or school, you never saw them apart.
But life changes, and my son first got his truck license, then his own rig. The money is in long haul, and Spencer was too afraid of the truck to allow himself to be lifted into it, so at 7 years of age he started staying with us, going home to the boy on weekends, until eventually he just stayed.  Spencer was our well loved granddog and by then our Jack was ancient, having a younger dog around perked him up enormously, so we were all more than happy with the arrangement.
Spencer, ever the pacifist, let the old guy be boss dog without a quibble. For almost 3 years they shared walks, camping trips and us.
The grandkids had started arriving, and Spencer was as loving and patient as any dog could be.

It was a common sight to see the big dog being walked by a tiny girl, he was ever mindful of his charges and careful not to pull.
That's not to say that he didn't have his moments, he was still fearful, storms and fireworks terrified him, until he went deaf. Rain or water from a hose, or in a bathtub were enough to make him run for cover, lawn mowers, vacuum cleaners, the list of scary things goes on. Water laying on the ground in a lake or ocean were irresistible though and  he couldn't resist a puddle!

He loved travelling, anywhere, anytime, just say car ride! and he was there. 
After Rolley the Jack passed he went into a deep depression, so 6 months later we adopted a new brother, Oakee. Oak and his antics gave Spence a new lease on life, just has Spence had Rolley. 
Spence taught Oak how to be a good dog, how to travel and enjoy life. 

The old guy  declined alarmingly, this past fall. After all 15.5 is really really old for a Lab. He couldn't manage the stairs anymore so we had been taking turns sleeping on the couch so he wouldn't be alone downstairs.
We were told if  we went South that winter, that he wouldn't make the three day trip there, that if he did, he certainly wouldn't make it home. We had actually made a plan in case of the worst. 
Once we started to pack though, the magic happened. He started dancing around like a two year old, he even tried to jump into the truck something he hadn't been able to do for a while (bad idea).
He travelled like the trooper he was.
We went to South Carolina and stayed just south of Myrtle Beach through some of the worst winter weather they have on record, not that he cared, he was just happy to be there.

By Mid January it started to clear up, and then great news! Spencer's favourite travel destination, and ours,  Hunting Island, was reopening ahead of schedule. We hadn't been able to go to for a couple of years because of Hurricanes Matthew and Rita. So we quickly made arrangements to extend our stay and spend a week there.
In years past Spencer had been nicknamed the Hunting Island welcoming committee. The snowbirds are a tight knit group, and he knew and loved them all. 
When we got there the devastation was awful, the landscape was completely changed, but Spencer knew where to go. He knew our favourite campsite, he knew where the paths were, and how to get to, and off of the beach. He recognized friends from years past, and even though he was blind, deaf and could only walk short distances he once again was the Hunting Island welcoming committee.
Our last walk on the beach before we came home, he simply stood with his toes in the ocean, and sniffed the ocean breeze for at least 30 minutes. I hope he was remembering all of the good times, swimming with dolphins, playing fetch in the waves, digging up crabs, and eating disgusting stuff washed up by the surf. 
In March I noticed a mass growing on his abdomen. He was getting weaker, but he still loved every day. He took 1/2 hour to walk around the block, but he smiled the whole way, greeting everyone we met. 
By the beginning of May he could no longer get up by himself, and he was falling more and more often. Finally we knew we had to make that difficult decision. We put it off as long as we could, he was still happy, loving, and wonderful, so it was really hard to know when... 
On June 8th, just a month before his 16th birthday, laying under his favorite tree in the backyard, with his family around him, loving on him, telling his how much we love him, we had the vet put him to sleep. 
There is a hole in my heart old friend, our home is so quiet without you. Your brother is a great dog, but he will never take your place.
Every memory I have of you is good, squeezing through Rolley's dog door, tippy toeing across the grating on the dock. Falling into the river and being a black lab for a bit, and the way I could absolutely trust you to be gentle, and obedient, no matter the provocation.  
You surely have you wings, because you were an angel on earth.
I love you, and I will miss you.
Swim in the giant ocean of stars, until we meet again.  
Good Dog, Spencer, Good Dog. 

Monday, June 4, 2018

Musing, on the Muses

Well another PSAG show has come and gone, the work was so amazing that there was a 5 way tie for members choice awards...
The point if this story is in the aftermath though. 
My wonderful life mate and helper extraordinaire spent much of his weekend schlepping art stands etc, his only payment dinner at our amazing local restaurant. 
While we were there a RV type bus pulled up and disgorged a dozen or so people who looked like they were direct from LA, bling and plastic surgery abounded, and they were wrangled by a harried chap called Saul who looked like his ulcers were worse than his frazzled nerves. 
One of our local gents said hello, as people do in our small town, only to be verbally slapped down by a particularly haughty young woman. 
Saying distainfully do you know who I am!?!
The rejoinder: no and with an attitude like that I don't care to. 
The young woman appeared to be in total shock. She was obviously used to being toadied to. 
It all caused me to remember something a mentor said many years ago. 
Those of us who have been gifted with talent, and blessed with some level of success need to remember to be grateful for the gift. Always be kind and compassionate to those who's gifts are different from ours, and remember what the muses give they can also take away if you prove undeserving. 
I don't know who they were, and like the local gent I don't think I care to, but the muses know, and I hope the young woman learned a valuable lesson yesterday, before the muses decide she doesn't deserve her success. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Almost There

The parental house has sold. The closing date is a couple of weeks off, and barring the unforeseen, this chapter will close.
As those of you who have been through this process and/or follow me know, it's been a very intense 6 months.
So much of Mom and Dad's accumulated stuff was either donated or thrown away, the temptation of taking the easy way and keeping all of the special things was strong, but had to be overcome.  I still have way too much of it, things like boxes and boxes of photo's I have to go through, sigh.
At lest now I'm not spending all of my free time at the house, and I'm not in a high state of emotional turmoil trying to decide what to do with all of this, I have been able to get back into the studio, just in time too, as I was going to have to pass up another show. That would have made too many passed by this year.

Working Title: Where The Road Dips, 12x36, Glazed Acyclic.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Life Update

The last few months have been full of highs and lows. 
The high: I developed and brought to completion a massive Art Installation at Mount Hope Long Term Care.  
With the help of a dedicated team of volunteers, we completed 288 squares in 6 weeks.  Each square tells the story, in words and pictures, of one of our residents. Assembled the squares form an 8x16 ft Canadian Flag. Canada is a mosaic, a country that sees diversity as a strength, and our installation reflects the Mount Hope Community as a microcosm of that rich diverse whole. 
What an incredible experience this was. 
There will be a permanent page dedicated to this project on this blog, as soon as I get a few hours to put it together.  
Purely by coincidence, my Dad is now in care at this facility.  It was one of our 3 picks and just happened to be the one that came available.  
I've completed phase one of clearing out his house, the sort and toss stage. Now comes the getting rid of all his stuff stage, which is amazingly hard to do. 
I have a house full of old furniture, 
books, moms china, curios etc that no one wants and that I'm charged with disposing of :(
Even though Mom has been gone for over 6 years, and dad is doing well and adjusting to the nursing home, I find myself awash with a sneaky kind of grief. 
I see Moms copper bottom pots and remember her standing at the stove, or open a drawer and find a paper weight I gave dad for fathers day 50 years ago. 
Dismantling their lives, and giving it all away is like riding an emotional roller coaster, one that has you hanging upside down, and twisting unexpectedly every time you relax and think 'I've got this'
Art is my solace and salvation normally, but through out this I've been unable to create, I see things that call to be painted, but nothing happens, the juice has dried up, I know that it'll come back, I miss my dearest companion, my muse, but right now I'm just concentrating on getting through this. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Life Is Change

auction, charity, art
This one is important to me
You know the old saying,.
 'The only constant in life is change'
We've been going through some major changes lately. Like so many of my generation I've become the primary caregiver for an elderly ailing parent. Also like so many of my generation I have kids who are in difficult relationships, who seem to still think Mom can fix anything. 
At the same time I'm  trying to manage my art career, and my businesses, all of which are keeping me really really busy, really busy.
The only way I've found to get through these times, are accept and organize. 
The serenity prayer hangs on the wall of my studio, you know the one...

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can; 
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time; 
enjoying one moment at a time; 
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it; 
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will; 
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next. 

To that I would add, stay organized, and learn to say no. 

Clear the mental clutter and time drains. Too much stuff can be deadly, as can too much to do.
 In all of our schedules there are cluttery bits, tasks that we don't know how we got roped into doing, or that we've 'always done'. 
One of the hardest things I've had to learn, is to really think about how important a task is to me, and to say no when I decide it's not important enough to keep in my schedule.  
This is the first year since I joined the guilds that I'm not up to my neck in setting up the shows. I've really had to fight my feelings of guilt on this.  I should...I always have...They need me...but to my amazement, the world is still spinning, the tasks are getting done, the shows will go on.  
It's change, not easy, but neccessary.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Beach Paintings: Hunting Island, Before Mathew

For five years, since Hubby retired, we've been snowbirds. Four of those years we went to Hunting Island SC. Paradise. 
Unfortunatly hurricane Mathew devastated Hunting Island wiping much of it away. 
Cleaning out my studio I came across three small paintings I had started there last year, but not completed. 
I just finished them. 
It breaks my heart knowing the inspiration for each is gone. 
Mini 4x4, glazed acrylic, North Beach #1
Mini 4x4, glazed acrylic, North Beach #2

8x10, glazed acrylic, Beach Grass 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Wondering if this will work

So far so good...
Since google and apple had a falling out I haven't been able to access blogger since I'm a Mac girl...
Then brain storm....
I still have my old iPhone with it's in updated iOS will it access blogger still?? 
Let's see
Reference for my next painting 
Cross your fingers....

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Step by Step: Elgin Panorama

When driving around my rural neighborhood I often see patterns, texture and colour combinations that entrance me. At this time of the year the frost kissed trees add their own narrative to the stories the land tells.

18x36, gazed acrylic, headed for the STEAG Show at the CASO
in St Thomas

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Time, Again

Looking over my postings for the last few months I notice that they all have a common thread, time, or the lack there of.
I had a conversation yesterday with a dear friend where she asked when do you want to retire?

Want to retire... that's a loaded question, yesterday or even better, last year, would be when I want to retire. The reality is that I don't see retirement in my future at all.
This is an all too common dilemma faced by creatives.
I love working with my 'old sweeties' in Long Term Care, but I am fighting a continual battle with the clock/calendar, and it get's very tiring.  
Retirement sounds like a dream come true, unfortunately having been self employed most of my life, the only CPP for me will be the little bit I get from the part time side jobs I've periodically had.

I'm at a stage in my art career where I need to be spending more time in the studio, but time is an ever more elusive beast. I hate turning down invitations to show that have been coming my way, I hate having no new art to show at the Art Emporium, and being under pressure to produce work for the next show

  STEAG 10th Annual Show & Sale 
November 11 - 13, 2016
Fri. 6-9pm, Sat. 10am - 6pm Sun. 11am - 5pm
CASO Station, 750 Talbot St, St Thomas (behind Giant Tiger) 

Please don't think I'm whining, or have any serious regrets, because I'm not, and don't.  I don't have much work because I did some serious experimentation this summer, not all of which was successful and what was sold quickly... 
So, I continue to soldier on, dreaming about windfalls, and winning lotteries with tickets I never buy, and 'one day' when my ship comes in, though I'll probably be a the train station... painting in the moments I'm able to carve out of my day, it's amazing what you can do with 15 minutes here and there.


Sunday, September 4, 2016

Time Precious Time

I used to 'play' in my studio, the light heartedness implied by the term play was intentional, I didn't want to get too serious for fear of chasing the muses away.
As children we weren't allow to play until our chores were done, a practice that taught us a deeply engrained work ethic and a very practical bent, the unfortunate consequence was that that word 'play' became a deterrent.
It took me years to figure out why I felt like I had to do everything else first before I could focus on my art, that darn word....
It's amazing what a difference specific language can  make. I've long called my art my work, but the process was different, or was it? After all the process is important to me, that's what I derive joy from.
Each painting is an experiment, a learning opportunity, a chance to push the medium a bit further, and the wielder of the medium too.
Calling the process 'work' gives it the respect that it deserves, and helps me to carve time from an overloaded schedule every day.
It's the all too common lament I hear from artists, there is paper work to do, marketing, networking, schlepping your work hither and yon, applications to fill out classes to prep/teach etc etc etc. Then of course there's family and house hold stuff...ARGH!
My solution? It's a job. I have to show up 5 days a week. I have a calendar hanging on the studio door that I check off every day that I work, even if it's only for a short time.
Some days all I can punch in for is a few minutes, but it's amazing what you can do if you consistently day after day work 15 minutes here and there.
As you have guessed, I don't wait for inspiration. Inspiration comes from the work, a lesson learned from Chuck Close who famously said "inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and get to work"
Do you find it hard to find time for your art? What solutions work for you? Share share, we all need ways to create more time!

Elgin County, Mapleton, maple, country road
The Hill on Mapleton Line, Glazed Acrylic Robin Baratta, 16x20, juried into STEPAC In View Of The Artist Show.

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