Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Imaginary landscape evolves

Visualizing the patterned flow of water and land typical of Marshland.
Keep waiting for the water to emerge. Work carries uncertainty and
excitement. Working without a tangible subject reveals my hands bias
toward scribble and scratch.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Imaginary horizon

Trying out new modes of working to distill down to favorite symbols.
This is my first painting from imagination rather than a photo.
Larger version of endless horizon. Inspiration remains my train view


Infini painting

Third phase of train horizon. Sense of place that I normally focus on for work has broken into glimpses from a train window - seemingly disconnected bits of picturesque marsh, punctuated by refinery, housing tracts, ship graveyards, dumps and small towns. Started out building these in a square format, but am now stretching out sideways, making it up as I go.

super fav chocolate cake

1 1⁄2cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1⁄4 cup natural unsweetened
cocoa powder, such as Ghirardelli or Hershey’s
1 tsp baking soda
1⁄2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup cool water

* flr in pan
* mix sug, cocoa, bak soda, salt in bowl
* whisk into flr
* add vin, van, oil to dry mix
* pour cold water over top and mix

350F (180C) @ 30 minutes or till springey

abridged from regan daleys "in the sweet kitchen"

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Late train entertainment. Warhols Cousins and near familydiscussing
what they thought he created while in the USA
Day 2 on the marsh painting makes me wonder how worthwhile it is to
spend much time pre-intellectualising my pieces. Tonight, i painted
over some middle rows and turned em into an elongated horizon. I may
stick with the idea of interchangeable panels since it seems relevant
to the train view, but I'm leery pf it as a mark of indecision in
composition or (worse?) the urge to add a gimmick to make painting
have a dialogue with the current installation style art. Despite my
digi-schooling (watching documentaries of real artists)
my best effort still comes from a spontaneous place. Subject is just a
seed which ideally leads
to a flow of light and color. Deliberate efforts are currently
taking me to a dull place. Hence, some comedy...

The last farm

In the davis cemetary district, wedged between suburban starter homes,
an abandoned pony farm awaits conversion to condos. Past a treelined
periphery is a large barn, slumped outbuildings, an old schoolbus,
robust palm trees, open fields, and a graceful dip of land. Our
advanced painting class received permission to paint here twice
weekly, in exchange for the promise not to sue for injuries or use
artwork to inspire preservation of this open space.

McKee Gallery

Like the sculptures of puryear ... Coming to sfmoma in 2008.

- -
Artwork- http://robinkibby.com
Ph 510.649.7524

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fictional art

marsh paintings have been living in my brain all quarter. Ideas of
continuity and interchangeability are motivators. Aesthetically, love
the flow of grass and sky colored water. Small panels will ideally
allow me to swap pieces and expand. Now that its down, I like the top
row and bottom. Middle feels anemic.
I gessoed these with the idea of letting each panel represent a pixel
of marsh color in order to build one big painting later. This would
allow me to focus on brushstroke a d color alone. In mind, sounds
great, but on fabric, I like that thread of real image. The question
remains how much to take away (detail) and how much to add (in depth
of layers and pieces of canvas) in order to give feeling of the scale
of this landscape.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Copying the caravaggio three times is an exercise in rhythm, geometry
and color play. The man was triangle- obsessed. Every fold of clothing
or bend of arm forms a geometric pointer to lead you through the
painting. These angles sometimes conspire to form a major diagonal
that leads the eye in a slow rhythmic descent till it lands on the
main subject, the virgin Mary laid out on a bed. Dark hues play in
the shadow, reds are luminous.
On copy number three I still haven't tired of the composition.
Inspired, I starting to edit my highway paintings, adjusting the
amount of city, cement piers and interchanges to tell the story
intended. I realize how unecessary it is to leave any unappealing
form. I am not editing to create the picturesque, but with the goal of
better rhythm and flow of color.
The practice of copying Caravaggio and reading weekly about the
aspirations of avant garde film makers are stirring up change. While
my end result appears to belong to an older (some would say dead)
tradition of 2-d art making, the commitment to process is shared. I've
heard a few people mention that art should demand something of you,
the artist. It is easy to see how this applies to a performance or
endurance piece, but I think it applies to the object-based art as well.
My current test of this is to use color and brushtrokes in new ways-
allowing sky to go brown or pink and ground and houses to to blue.
This is creating a new exciting cohesiveness to the painting itself,
breakinmg my tendency to fill in bands color. I want texture and
layers, and the brushstrokes to show. Getting over my initial
bashfulness about my medium and am enjoying exploiting its qualities.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Transformation #2

Second hillside
Trying to perforate the darkness which was there previously.
Getting overly optimistic with the pink

Back inside working on my sky

Lots of ideas on the wipey board, but I want to follow thru on some
projects I started. Just when I started to feel ok with the use of
some blending, I have become captivated by the opposite quality.
Enjoying letting the eye mix the colors. Remain inspired by a chuck
close documentary i watched recently, where the entire portrait
painting is made up of little abstract squares


Local pipes - charcoal sketches for large square ptg

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Budget deficit

Our dept couldn't afford enough seats
In the mondavi center, so many are seated in the foyer staring at a
stone wall listening to the disembodied voices of thiebaud, neri, and
wiley echo through the room. When I can decipher the comments I try to
guess at whom the speaker might be.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Second pass - uber caravaggio

Hard to let myself use enough paint on this size
60" x 40" - oil

My commute

Tuesday 9:30 train. Just crossed the delta heading inland. Reading/
grading papers on surrealist film screenings, filling my margins with
comments.. The variety of visual pattern out the window helps keep the
mental gymnastics required to digest the avant garde art works in

Monday, November 5, 2007

Nielsen Gallery - Jon Imber

Like these landscapes!!!!!

Fwd: Stapler

Stretching a 48" x 48"

The housewife painting

A comment by a visiting artist inspired me to push it further in the
"pixelated" direction. Mega pointallism maybe? Trying out some Meo-
meglip medium to help add volume in the paint. Also working more
freely between sky and ground to keep more continuity of color and
thickness. Like the idea of image emerging from a pattern - shimmering
into existence.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Color roughed in

Stretched my 60 x 40 canvas for this one. Trying to work bigger with
each project. Have a vision of filling my studio wall with on piece.
Used sponges to keep strokes generalized for starts. Cut up teeny bits
of sponge this time which allowed me to be frugal with amount of
paint, while still working to really spread it over the canvas

Brushes for rough in of color

Sketch in charcoal

Final caravaggio copy - gridding it out

Remote office

Heading north on a Sunday. Rereading some film/video articles en
route. The twenty songs I have on my iPod are adequate to dull down
the phone chatter, chip crunching, and toddler talk from the car.
Watched "pollack" movie last night, and facets of it keep passing thru

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Quarter way inland through the state, amtrak floats over marsh . We honk and clang. Windows and plastic molding shutter. Pale grey sky is mirrored a shade darker in water. There are no hard edges here. Mirror grey and mottled red, green, and yellow grasses pattern themselves off into the distance. Urban texture is suggested on the horizon fringe.

The lady behind me is talking to her newspaper. "mm hmm" She flips a page.

The lawyer two seats back is arranging case reviews by phone. His ability to get to the bottom line mid-chit chat suggests ex military, but it could be the result of commanding a steep hourly wage.

The perceived interrogation of painting in recent weeks has driven me inside. Art making feels burdened. The field of studio art has unfurled and inflated, displacing my current craft. I keep being asked "why paint?" Since studio art practice is not limited to discrete objects, is the making of image-specific objects obsolete?

Fortunately, my elective choice (advanced painting)has forced the brush in my hand twice a week and reminded me of some of the Whys. The physical process (the ritual of it?) and the color and form discoveries. Painting's slow pace gives me time to meditate on the subject. Do I need to document the process beyond the final image? Or work on location? Painting from direct observation is lauded for the extra info you get from the subject (color, changing light, etc). Photos provide forms which become filled with personal abstractions on canvas, but the presence of the original forces me to edit and respond.

Its easy to gloss over the depression of past weeks. A new roll of canvas, and some five foot stretchers, boosted excitement about pushing my limits in this medium.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Inching towards plein air

Sketched under 80 east
Painted in studio
Only got one honk. Is there a good time to time to linger under

Visited the east coast contemporary painter show at the ccas (sacto). The amtrak from Davis offers more views of industry, fresh housing, farm, field, and the marsh. The bike ride through the capital dumped me on hightraffic one way road. The lack of pedestrians (an oddity for the hub of the state) made it easy to take sidewalks in desperation. Neighborhood are spotty but with promise. I finally happened in a bike path on19th st abdcould hustle into the ccas. The show had some built up pieces and some subtle ones. My favorite work was by jake berthot - subtle shifts in tone exploring tree motifs.
i've been feeling as if pai ting has been excommunicated fron the art world- so a roomful of pigment texture and color offered a needed boost

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Deleted some cement today. Abandoning previous judiciousness with what I leave in the painting. The canvas was too cluttered at this size, so I added more bldgs and ditched confusing structures.

More caravvagip

Monday, October 22, 2007


Copying a Carravagio's 'death of a virgin'

Friday, October 19, 2007

Spouse rocks

Brian helped me set up these kicking shelves as a drying rack in the
studio. Each slot can house a 4' tall canvas. Wood shelves with
drilled out holes for dowels create the partitions.
Now I just need to stretch some big beasties.


Trying to get less stingey with paint - also trying to leave some
ochre aside for bright tones

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

...of a realist

(Picture: Highway painting test - absorbant ground turns canvas into paperlike in texture).
School is enigmatic. My advanced painting class is half-populated by realists. My grad group, conceptually driven. Art is mid conversation - awaiting change, either through participation or evolution. Photos document possible conclusions.

Still evaluating what's in store for me as a 'first year'. We are let loose regarding materials or content. Late winter, the full faculty descends into studio, interrogates/investigates, and proffers a thumbs up or thumbs down. The interdisciplinary focus of this program seems to invite ephemeral practice.

Considering my fondness for two dimensional objects and subjects related to a recognizeable bits of city-i am left with the question that drove me to school to begin with- how to defend representational art? It seems easy to categorize it as decorative.

A consolation today was revisiting my short term goal of playing with scale and materials to see what best relates to the subject. We watched a sheeler's movie "manhatta" in class recently. Dynamic compositions and dramatic scale, monumentalized the city. Although aspects of industrialization have shown their grimy side since, the movie still resonates with me.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Good studio day

An easiness of mind evidenced in duo espresso art.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Settled in new studio- happily starting on new work after a week of
orientations and tours

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

6:55 train

Sunrise foils to my desire to sleep en route to Davis. Land, water and
cement are washed in warmth. Out the eastern train window I am
entranced by red shimmer of small leaves on scrubby bushes, the soft
peach glow of dry grass, and metal silos edged with dramatic orange

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Train to Davis

Day 2 on train transit to Davis. Housi g tracts packed shoulder to
shoulder with luxury homes alternate with stretches of Industial
plants, junk yards, and graffiti covered walls. Train tracks afford
the graffiti artist the luxury of time , so the visual offerings are
nicely executed with rich detail and color. We cross the opening to
the delta, a wide crossing edged with soft curving arcs of grasses. A
large ship graveyard forms an abstract cluster at the DAR end. I de
over the bridge we pass through flatland-grasses, distant semi hills
and wandering bodies of water. The lands feels soft wild and open.
School doesn't start till the month end but I want to gain my footing
with my studio setup and practice.

Friday, August 31, 2007

On the Empty Easel

Thanks to Dan at the Empty Easel for his nice write up of my paintings. Nice to hear responses to the highways, since there are more to come. Woohoo!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Collegetown coffee

> En route to peets with thermos in hand-I passed the yellow umbrellas
> outside Mishka cafe. Having a vague recollection of seeing folks
> sitting out front during past visits, I paused out front to google
> their cup quality. Yelpers say "yes"- including a couple macchiato
> fans. They boast status as the only roaster in Davis. Initial glance
> reveals a good sized roaster mid cafe, and a well kept la marizocco
> machine. Emboldened, I order a macchiato.
> The cashier takes my money, calls out the order, then asks her
> coworker "you know how to make those right?"
> My drink shows up in a cappuccino sized cup topped with bubbly
> froth. The espresso is not awful, but it takes ateaspoon of sugar
> and the knowledge of my future p.b. cookie deliciousness to make it
> through the final sips. Aftertaste is harsh and tarlike.
> Had I known, I would have saved that little chocolate covered coffee
> bean on the saucer for last. A mystery how the product can be so bad
> when the ingredients look good.
> Ambiance is nice.
> On future visits I will reserve my cash for a scoop of yummy ice
> cream instead
> Back to the studio!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Back at the easel

Up at Davis today, settling in enough to get a few brushes dirty. Nice
thing about painting is that the mind can wander. I am thinking in
terms of filling walls with a grouping rather than working piece by
I am finishing up the architectural paintings, and am thinking forward
to a room full of highways.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

caravan gallery

i've got a thing for roving art shows like the ceramics artstream. Found a neat new one today - the tinier caravan gallery. I love how these rolling walls can bring the art to any venue, and make art more approachable (hopefully) to average folks.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Empty easel

Today I spent a few hours restoring acci gallery to its normal display state after their twice-yearly "seconds sale". It's the oldest artist co-op west of the rockies, and its cracked cement floor, brick walls, and warm light endear me to the building.

By the time I arrived, the room was devoid of the discount crafts and textiles. White-papered folding tables topped with cinderblock shelves needed breaking down. We compacted this into a small storage shed behind the sculpture garden, and re-filled the space with the normal medley of sun-catching color. Still feeling like a new member at ACCI (even after 2 years), it was a good time to learn about the craft of my fellow member-artists. 2 hours stacking, tilting, and arranging colored glass and clay in cubbies did the trick.

Last year I worked the "seconds sale" event and watched Berkeleyans enthusiastically fill baskets with plates, vases, and mugs. They stocked up and came back for more. This venue is a great place to display and sell work that can be stacked, worn, or tossed in a dishwasher.

Not so great for 2-d work so far.

With art venues on my mind, I sat down at the computer. Ran across emptyeasel, which feature some reviews of sales on digi-art sites. I've offered cards and prints at Etsy for a while, and am curious about alternatives. So far, nothing beats hanging a show and making the sale myself.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


What better demonstration of aesthetic perfection than in an an unexpected gift. My neighbor brought over this delicate cream-colored birthday bowl and treats.
I am trying not to do to much math this year, I am thirty....something

Monday, August 13, 2007

artists i like

Sorting stale paperwork has led me circuitously to revisit some new favorite painters.
particia chidlaw
kenny harris
They both show at Terrance Rogers - a Santa Monica gallery on my list of places to visit down south. Because the subject and tone of the represented work is similar, the different artist's style should be thrown into relief. The web is great for previewing painting, but it it tends to flatten everything - robbing the viewer of the impact of scale and texture. Serves to highlight one of the neat things about an original painting - the richness of texture and varied quality from different viewing directions. A good painting offers me something fresh upon every visit.

Friday, August 3, 2007

new digs!

the new digs!
the new digs!,
originally uploaded by robin kibby.

Embracing future days at Davis by moving my studio in advance of the quarter. I picked a space in the TB-9, the building which houses the ceramics department, and 2 other grad students. Some compelling features - windows that open, great natural light, and the humongosity of it. This studio is at least 4 times the size of my last spot in Oakland. Looking at the walls incites visions painted highway interchanges and rolls of paper unfurled for large drawings. I ran into the goldfish phenomena in cricket engine, painting as large as the width of my studio. It was only when I hung the work that I realized its scale was smaller than i intended.
The Donaldson men were gracious enough to help me fill and empty a big truck - starting with the easel in Oakland, and a flat stuff pickup in Berkeley. We cinched everything to the truck walls, hoping it would arrive intact after an hour drive north. Fortunately, most of what I am moving are ingredients rather than finished items - making it less-precious to pack.
My moving anxiety allayed as soon as we climbed into the truck cab and turned onto the highway. We bounced along at eye level with semis. Compact cars slid in and out of our view way down below. We chatted the whole way, having the kind of easy visit that tends to happen on accident on the road to somewhere new.

Friday, July 20, 2007


my painting teacher
i took a grand total of one oil-painting class in college. My teacher, duncan just sent me a nice hello note. He left my senior year (or the one after) to go paint in the big wide world, and its great to discover that years later is still doing just that - painting, and showing work on both coasts.
After a primer on mixing paints and cleaning up, Duncan let us loose in the field. Every afternoon, students armed with folding tripods and bags of paint and palettes wandered off into campus to find inspiration in the shingles, pathways, and foliage. i had worked in greyscale (charcoal and ink) for so long, that I was surprised to find myself filling each painting with oranges and blues as soon as I got started. What did I paint? fire hydrants, building backsides, and coca cola cans. Sounds familiar.

My eye remains fixed and fascinated with these elements, but the color and the method of painting slowly change. It's a neat gift of the craft.
I love discovering what will emerge when I show up at the canvas with a little time ahead of me, and a little color in my pocket.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

homemade books

book covers - paper glued on
book covers - paper glued on,
originally uploaded by robin kibby.

A nice by-product of showing in the Live Oak Park Fair was meeting Elaine Chu, a bookmaker and graphic designer from Berkeley. She teaches the craft to newbies and veterans, so my neighbor and I signed up for a (what's this fold called?) neat expandie origami-like book class. Over three hours, we sat at a round table, picking out papers, folding, gluing, and smoothing our work. It was a sunny saturday. While busying my hands, a side-entertainment was the yelps and laughter and foot-padding of Elaine's kids who were busy moving water from kitchen sink to backyard, in pursuit of summer fun. We talked crafts, art supplies and book publishing software (quark vs. indesign - mouseclicking vs. handmade craft). The experience was reminiscent of the crafting I have done since age 3 -- sitting around a table with family and friend, assembling, scribbing, cutting, and gluing. So fun. At afternoon's end, we had each made 2 books that tie closed with a ribbon. At home I kept opening and closing my book, absolutely satisfied with both process and product. Now I am eyeing the residual bits of museum-board saved from my last large mat cut. Future books they will be!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

on industry

originally uploaded by robin kibby.

Been painting frantically. The subject of this entry (the industrial series) is still in the works. This is why I have I have included a picture of something completed -- part of the latest trio of overpasses.

My nails are rainbow colored from two good days in studio. It's a relief to haul out the 30 x 40's and fill them with color. I started on the industrial paintings in January, but sporadic workdays have made it difficult to gain traction. For anything larger than 4"x4", I need over 5 hour blocks of time. It helps to do several pieces at once. Makes it easier to discard mistakes, and hold onto the good stuff.
I started the industrials as part of a commission piece for an architect up north. Was thinking about the way varied building materials come together. I started out looking at agricultural industrial buildings, and ended up working from the forms in my own backyard - the varied and plentiful cement (aggregate) plants of the east bay. While sketching, I became captivated by corrugated metal, heavy steel beams, rusting metal and broken out windows. I like the residential suggestions in these massive structures.
The sketch the architect liked the most was created in my traditional mode - more poetic than intellectual. So I am exploring two approaches at the same time. I may have to abandon some initial plans in order to fill the studio walls with a cohesive set. I started by looking for unique abstractions. But, in the meantime, the completion of the latest highway stretch has affected my thinking about how a series could work together. Now I want it each piece to be obviously related by both color and content. We'll see what the 4th brings! It's another good day for work.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

While waiting for corrections on an InDesign chapter, I ran across an an article on artist, Florin Ion Firimita.
A couple ideas in here that I don't wish to forget yet:
"I think that beauty is still a dirty word. I guess we owe that to the postmodernists. But I think that beauty is still out there, despite of what we make of it.

"I think we are lost in language stunts. The internal disease in some of contemporary art is the absence of compassion (in a broader sense) and a terrible separation between art and the public. These days, there are no mediators between the public and artist. Critics have failed to do that by encrypting art and building barriers between the two worlds.

quotes are by Firimita, article by Richard Whittaker in Works & Conversations
I linger on the "absence of compassion" bit.
Why did I haul my art around the Bay in recent weekends? To gauge response, see people laugh at office supplies, and ask the questions "why powerlines?" "how long does it take?" "is there a secret meaning?" The interesting part of this equation is those other people and what the art inspires (or doesn't) in them...

Monday, June 18, 2007

marin arts fair 07

marin arts fair 07
marin arts fair 07,
originally uploaded by robin kibby.

The weekend Brian and I crossed the bridge west to participate in the Marin Arts Fair. My booth was near the stilt-walker section of the grounds so we got to see a band of modern gypsies transform into corset wearing long-legged clowns, dragons,and sunflowers. The children were face-painted and costumed as well, and danced and played at the end of ribbon-leashes held by an adult. Their camp was articulated by the modern caravan of Dodge Sprinter vans and Prius cars. After the make up came off, the kids wrestled in the grass and sang.

We were literally facing the music, so both days started with Tico drumming and mellowed into afternoon guitar or banjo.

On the art-end, it was a change to hear from the Marin crowd. They are not used to seeing the Bay from the East, so had difficulty identifying where my big Berkeley (grizzly peak-ish view) was from. At Live Oak Park, most visitors were filled with local pride and recognition of a good spot. Marin elicited more puzzled looks and questions. My decision to leave out the Golden Gate bridge was more controversial here than in Berkeley. Some were excited or amused by my attention to simple objects, and some excited to see brush-stroke activity on the canvas. After a speedy tour of the grounds, I see how this could be a novelty amid booths of flowers, fruits, and seasides floating on smooth canvas.

When I consider my hopes and expectations for this summer's fairs, they were all met - I gave out cards, met new folks, and nothing fell down or took flight in a stiff breeze. I ate well, had great company, and met some folks that I hope will turn into good future friends.

The Marin event was 3 times larger and more commercial than last weekend - both by the type of product and in the way it was put together. The shiny white-peaked tent tops were quite nice (Bri got a lot of cool pix of them). And the location was stellar, next to a big lagoon. Lunch was a mean portabella sandwich and hand scooped ice cream for dessert. Highlights included seeing some family and friends I haven't caught up with for a while.

Along with all the good vibes, I returned home super-tired and with a feeling of uncertainty. I guess I am a gypsy as well, seeking the right white walls and crowd to show to. For now, all I can do is make more work and keep moving around, looking for the perfectly placed wedge of pegboard or empty walls under track lighting.

Project of the day is to reclaim the living room from the piles of plastic boxes full of art goods and return the van. I spent a good hour at Andronico's and treated myself to delicious snacks, a jug of superfood juice, and the ingredients for good baking.

Not sure if I will cross the Bay again next year -- I will wait for a few more nights good sleep to decide.