Featured artist: Eric Robinson
Yellow Ochre, 16x12, oil on Ampersand Gessobord
Maryland-based Gessobord artist Eric Robinson specializes in oil and pen to create various visual narratives. Eric’s use of rich earth tones and bold brushwork is met with complementary soothing backgrounds that allow his subjects’ personalities to radiate through and be the focal point of each piece.
Body Ache, 20x16, oil on Ampersand Gessobord
Q: You have had an impressive professional dancer career. Does being a dancer carry over into your visual arts career and in what ways?
Thank you! At first, I never related the two. Now I feel my love of dance is carried over in what I look for in terms of physicality in my paintings. I always love looking for points of articulation in the face and/or body when shooting references. The same moments, I find, I also love the most in dance. It’s like little moments that accentuate the narrative. How would a piece read if the figure had a relaxed shoulder over a visibly pronounced one?
In the Meantime, 24x18, oil on Ampersand Gessobord
Q: You are also a trained photographer. How does that help in your portrait work?
Photography allows me to plan out paintings live. I won’t always have an idea going into a shoot, but I can easily draw inspiration from my muses themselves. I think learning the compositional rules from photography also helped me arrange and frame how I feel my paintings should be. I enjoy being able to keep my photography as just photos or bring them to life as paintings and seeing what they become.
Growing Pains, 20x16, oil on Ampersand Gessobord
Q: Do you paint your portraits from photographs or from life?
I paint from photographs, which is what my mentor is always getting on me about. I like to be able to work at my own pace, and lighting would definitely be a factor that makes working from life more difficult. I’m not opposed to it though. Working from photographs has its drawbacks too.
Undermine, 24x18, oil on Ampersand Gessobord
Q: Shades of yellow and blue show up a lot in your work. Is this intentional?
I honestly hadn’t noticed this before! Really interesting since my most used color is red. Venetian red specifically.
Ethereal, 12x9, oil on Ampersand Gessobord
Q: Eyes play an important part in portrait work, especially in yours. What story are you telling in your work through their eyes?
I believe the eyes can easily make or break the narrative. I want to convey the subtle emotion behind each piece and telling it through the eyes is my favorite way to do so. It can be the difference between direct eye contact and looking towards the ground in a piece.
Venetian Red, 16x12, oil on Ampersand Gessobord
Q: Do you personally know your subjects? How does that affect the outcome of your final pieces?
I do! The majority of my work, especially from 2018 and on, has been of friends, family, and mentors. I feel like when I paint them, I’m almost trying to “conjure” them up, haha. There’s more of a sense of care because I know they’ll see the works of them, and I want them to love the painting just as much as I do.
My Mentor, Miguel, Carter-Fisher, 20x16, oil on Ampersand Gessobord
Q: You graduated from college in May 2021 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communication Arts. What do you plan to do next?
Yes, and thank GOD! Now that I finally have the time to paint what I want, my next plan is to build a body of work to submit to galleries and land some more exhibitions. I’ll land my first solo show eventually. Currently, I’m working on a set of 12 paintings under the direction of my mentor, figurative painter, Miguel Carter-Fisher. He’s been amazing in showing me what it really means to be an artist and in developing my conceptual and technical skills. I also plan to become a brand ambassador for a few art companies. It’s only ever up from here!
Violate, 24x18, oil on Ampersand Gessobord
Q: How does Ampersand Gessobord complement your oil paintings?
It’s my all-time favorite surface for painting. It’s sturdy enough to handle my heavy-handedness. There’s just enough texture to where I don’t have to fight to cover it, unlike with canvas. I’ve tried other panels from other brands, and I always find myself looking for my go-to Ampersand Gessobord.
Eric Robinson is a Maryland-based fine artist who specializes in oil and pen to create various visual narratives. He is an alumnus from Virginia Commonwealth University with a B.F.A. in Communication Arts. His work revolves around the intersectionality of race, religion, and sexuality to convey a different meaning behind each work. He currently trains under Richmond-based figurative painter, Miguel Carter-Fisher, as his apprentice.
In addition to art, he is a classically trained professional dancer and freelance portrait photographer. He has had the pleasure of dancing with Spotlight Studio of Dance, Krash! Dance Productions, and Stavna Ballet. To see more of Eric's work, visit his website, Instagram, and Linktree.