Every week I highlight a local Upper Valley artist or maker. I give them a list of questions and they choose to answer as many of them however they'd like. I hope you enjoy meeting our local artists!
This week I'd like to introduce you to Robin Nuse, Pastel and Oil Painter
Winter on the Dartmouth Green - After Sunset
Robin Nuse works realistically in pastels and oils. She works primarily in her studio, using her own photographs as inspiration for her subject matter. Light and color play an important role in much of her work. Recently she has become interested in depicting figures in action in the landscape. She maintains her studio in her home in Hanover, New Hampshire and has been painting Hanover scenes such as the Dartmouth Green, Occom Pond and Mink Brook Nature Preserve for quite a few years.
Robin has a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design, and an MA from Goddard College. She has studied at the Vermont Studio School, the Washington D.C. Studio School, and privately with Carroll Jones, Jr. of Stowe, VT. In her early years she studied with her grandfather, Roy C. Nuse, a Pennsylvania Impressionist painter and former teacher at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, PA.
Robin’s work has been selected for juried shows throughout New England, most recently three of her large pastels were selected for “The Pastelists” at Bryan Memorial Gallery in Jeffersonville, VT. In 2007 she was awarded the Art Times Award at the Pastel Society of America’s 30th Annual exhibition. She is currently exhibiting in the Inside Out Art Gallery in Stowe, Vermont, the Bryan Memorial Gallery in Jeffersonville, Vermont, and Long River Gallery and Gifts in White River Junction, VT. In 2000 and 2006, two of her paintings were on the covers of the Here in Hanover magazine. Six of her paintings are represented by Bayview Press in their line of contemporary artist greeting cards. Her works are in numerous private collections in North America and Europe. She works as a free lance artist and also on commission. Her website is robinnuse.com
How did you get started with art?
My grandfather, Roy C. Nuse
, was an artist, I grew up with his paintings in our home, and really looked up to him. He lived 1/2 an hour away where I grew up in Bucks County, PA so I saw him frequently. When I was about 10 he gave me classical drawing lessons, after I did that he let me join one of his adult landscape painting classes in the summers.
Have you had any training?
Yes, I went to art school (Rhode Island School of Design) and also took oil painting classes with Carroll Jones, Jr. when I was single and lived in northern Vermont.
When did you first define yourself as an artist?
It took me years to be able to say I was an “artist”, probably because I had such a high ideal of what an artist was having seen the work my grandfather did (he’s now considered one of the Pennsylvania Impressionists
Do you make art for a living? If so, for how long have you been about to do that?
It is my career, but I wouldn’t be able to support myself with my art if it weren’t for my wonderful, generous husband Arthur.
What jobs have you had other than being an artist?
Art teacher, art therapist, computer graphics, art museum educator, and craftsperson - I made papier-mâché masks of mostly animal faces and sold them first on the streets of Boston, later in stores and craft shows.
If you don't make your living doing art, what do you do in "real life"?
It is my real life, and I actually am starting to make enough money now that I pay the grocery bills! Again I thank my husband Arthur for supporting me so that I have been able to have the time to develop as an artist, I couldn’t have done it without his support.
How much time do you spend doing art?
I am very disciplined about spending weekday mornings in my studio (except for some times playing tennis one morning a week.)
Where do you work?
In my studio that is in the back of our house.
Do you have a routine?
I start early in the morning doing meditation and a QiGong routine, after breakfast I take our neighbor’s dog for a walk down to the Connecticut River, THEN I go into the studio.
How do you work?
Intensely once I get into what I’m working on (which can take a while). I mostly sit with my paints or pastels on a table next to me, and have my paper or canvas on an easel in front of me, while I listen to NPR on the radio.
What is your studio/space like?
It’s like a tree house, because it faces some very tall hemlock trees we have in our back yard and is away from the rest of the house.
What are your passions outside of art?
Tennis, dogs, gardening, reading
What's something non-creative that you do to balance and recharge?
Playing tennis really gets me away from everything because I can’t think of anything else when I’m trying to hit the ball!
What medium/media do you use?
Pastels and oil paints
Why do you like it/them?
I like the immediacy of pastels – I can sit down and get right to work, because I keep the pastels spread out on a table when I’m working with them.
Oil Paints – I like the creaminess of paint, the limitless amount of colors you can mix, how one brushstroke can make a huge difference. However oils require a bigger time commitment because you have to first mix your paints, and clean up the palette and paintbrushes after each session.
What medium have you tried that you don't like?
If you had only one kind of art supply to use for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A travel set of pastels
What do you do with pieces you don't like?
I throw them away. Sometimes I cut down a picture, mostly I do this with pastels, and find that I’m much happier with the part of the picture that was working than the whole picture that wasn’t working. One of my all time favorite pastels (above) was cut down from a larger piece.
Creation and Inspiration
Where do you get your ideas?
Mostly from photos that I take myself. Something I see that catches my eye that please me – the light, the composition. It has to feel painterly for me to use it. Sometimes I crop photos and find what I want to use. For my people in action paintings I take gobs of photos and use a composite of figures from different photos, but try to have one base photo.
How do you get started on a piece?
I start drawing it loosely. Sometimes I do a color sketch and let myself be very loose, sometimes I like the study better than the finished painting.
How do you know when you're done?
When I say to myself STOP.
What/who inspires you?
Something that I see that appeals to me are landscapes. Figures in action in the landscape – skaters, rowers, swimmers, runners.
What's the best thing about being an artist?
Working on my own pace. That satisfying feeling after you’ve been really working intensely, and feeling good about a piece that pleases you to look at it.
What's the worse?
A piece that just doesn’t come together, yet I’ve kept it and framed it, and then I don’t like it after it’s framed.
What makes you unique as an artist?
That I can draw the human figure so well and like to capture the body in action.
How do you get past a creative block?
Always work whether you are inspired or not.
What is your dream project?
To do a self-portrait in the style of Rembrandt, to do some good plein-air paintings.
What are your fears as an artist?
That I will be considered mediocre.
What's the best piece of advice (or a quote) you've been given regarding art and creativity?
“Just be true to yourself, and you’ll get more out of it than if you try to please somebody else” - Roy C. Nuse
About Art and Artists
What do people not realize about being an artist?
That you can have a very regular life, not all artists have such dramatic lives as the stereotypical image of them is.
What do you think are the qualities that define an artist?
Someone who is very sensitive to their environment, and very acutely visual, that also can interpret what they see three-dimensionally onto a two-dimensional surface with emotion and skill.
What do you admire in other artists?
Good work – capturing a moment, good color sense, somehow creating a unique piece that pulls you into it.
Is there an artist you particularly admire/emulate/enjoy? Why?
– for his joyful sense of color and place in his paintings, and especially his paper cut-outs that are quite bold, spontaneous melding of colors and cut paper shapes.
Sharing Your Art
Do you accept commissions?
What is the process for working with you to create a custom piece?
First I try to get an idea of what the patron is thinking about what they want in their head so I have the same thing pictured in my head from their verbal description. If they have a photograph it has to be something that I am interested in painting too. Please, no house portraits!
Do you offer classes/workshops?
No, my studio is too small and I treasure my studio time as time for me to work.
Where can we find you/your work?
Would you like to be featured in "Meet the Local Artist"? Email Amy at RVCAmy at gmail dot com
Did you enjoy this interview? You might also like:
Last Week's Interview - Mary Gerakaris, Photographer
Next Week's Interview - Sam Wiebkin, Multi-Media Artist
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More about the author, Amy Fortier: Her Artist Interview