By David Rogers. July 6, 2017. BLOWING ROCK, NC — Who would have thought that playing in a mountain creek as a girl would lead Kay Robb to the soul of her passion, painting.
All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
“I love the forest and I especially love the mountain creeks,” Robb explained to Blowing Rock News on Thursday, the first day of her Artists in Residence exhibit at Edgewood Cottage, the first home and studio of Elliot Daingerfield in Blowing Rock at the turn of the 20th century.
I’ve always loved painting, but my father steered me into a graphic arts major in college — to make sure I could get a job!
Robb is the first of eight featured artists in the popular Artists in Residence series organized and hosted by the Blowing Rock Historical Society. Admission to Edgewood Cottage and the Artists in Residence exhibits is free.
Robb’s exhibit runs through Tuesday, July 11th. The entire series includes:
- June 22-July 2: 2016 Alumni
- July 6-11: Kay Robb
- July 13-18: Beth Parham, Gene Parham, and Earl Davis
- July 20-25: Ronda Hale and Susan Grant
- July 27-August 1: Lee Harper
- August 3-8: Richard Wright
- August 10-15: Susan Payne
- August 17-22: Ryan Kirby
- August 24-29: Raney Rogers
Now living in Hickory, the Robb family moved to the Catawba River Valley 20 years ago, from Atlanta. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.
“I always loved painting,” she smiled, reflecting back on the origins of her life passion. “My father kind of pushed me into graphic design because he wanted to make sure I could get a job!”
But painting as an art form has never been very far away for the woman who has been painting for more than 30 years. Her favorite mediums are oil on canvas and pastels on paper.
With my portraits I want to reach into the mind and psyche of the person sitting for me, to capture that person’s soul.
“In my earlier years as a stay-at-home mother,” she recalled. “I was always reading and studying different artists. For about 10 years after college, I studied painting. I pursued different painters and I would study with them for three or four years at a time. You might say I designed my own art education.”
Robb’s work covers a broad range of subjects, including portraits, landscapes and still life.
“I would describe my portraits as reaching into the mind and psyche of the person sitting for me,” she noted, “to capture that person’s soul.
“As for the landscapes,” she continued in self-analysis, “When I was a kid I loved to play in the woods and the creeks with my cousins, on my grandfather’s farm. That is my first love.”
Asked who her major influences might be, Robb was quick to answer, “Albert Handell, who specializes in pastels and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Daniel Greene, the famous portrait painter — I have done workshops with both of those men, and really fallen under their influence. I also studied with a wonderful teach in Atlanta, Christopher diDomizio. He has an art school there.”
Among historical artists that she has studied, Robb said of her favorites, “I love John Singer Sargent portraits and I love all of the Hudson River painters. They capture the spirit of the forest and the New World in the United States.”
Does she fancy Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone and other frontiersmen, then? “No!” (laughing)
Robb considers showing her work at Edgewood Cottage a huge blessing. Asked how that opportunity came about, she explained that she had several friends who have exhibited in the Artists In Residence program and urged her to apply.
“I as very happily accepted into the program,” she acknowledged. “I feel it is an honor to show here. This is a beautiful venue and I have met so many nice people today — and it is just the first day! We’ve had a few people from Blowing Rock, but most of the people so far have been from out of state, including Ohio, New Mexico, Tennessee, and others I don’t immediately recall, as well as from all different parts of North Carolina.”
For people interested in becoming an artist, Robb was emphatic in saying, “I have a STRONG suggestion. If anyone is interested in art, don’t ever say ‘I only draw stick figures.’ Find a good instructor who will teach drawing fundamentals. You can move right from those fundamentals into color.”