Robin Creates Form Inspired by Classical Art
"Academic art really pushed theories and having structure to your art, structure in terms of how you would plan and construct your drawing. It sort of set up all the rules that lead into impressionism and super famous Picasso art."
Drawing from classical fine art by the old masters Robin, a UK based fine artist & storyboard artist, creates beautiful and interesting characters rich with dynamic form and pose. Inspired by the work of Walt Disney and the artists within the Disney collective it's clear that Robin has really perfected her craft and will continue to do so. We loved her skilled handle on the pose and form and her very academic approach to artistic practices and process.
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PW: Tell us more about you and your artwork.
R: Hi I'm Robin, I'm from the UK and I love figures, construction of figures & cartoons. I'm currently a freelancing storyboard artist for animation.
PW: How did you plan for this project? What was your creative process?
R: I think unconsciously I end up using sketchbooks for figure studies / render practice and the computer for stupid doodles / quick stuff, I'm actively trying to swap that around and feel more comfortable making ugly stuff and mistakes in my sketchbook and trying to use Photoshop and a million layers at a time to build on a picture, usually initial sketches are disgusting (this is one on a good day).
After that I'll probably end up going over and over about 5 times until I've sort of found what I want, swapping horizontally every 5 seconds too.
I use my sketchbook to usually draw from life or apply tutorial stuff I've watched (New Masters is the best) You lose a lot of lovely texture and pressure qualities drawing digitally and I end up with a claw hand from gripping my tablet pen too hard.
PW: What work inspires or has inspired you?
R: There are so so many but from the top of my head: Steve Houston: Amazing, fluid figures, super art genius, founder of New Masters Academy. Glenn Vilppu: Living legend, the same as Houston but also shares his godly knowledge of renaissance composition. Chuck Jones: (The guy who animated the best episodes you'll see of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies) He keyframed and directed a lot of his episodes too, in general, an art and animation powerhouse with beautiful shapes and is super funny. Milt Kahl & Glen Keane: Super animators and draftsmen. Myron Barnstone: All-round super genius of composition, colour theory, figure structure and everything else you can think of. Treated art like a real discipline. Rubens: His art for the time period is crazy good in comparison to most others from the 15th century. I have this in mind:
Bouguereau: Maybe the best artist of all time? He paints the most complex figures you'll ever see but then has like 20 of them in each painting. He's so good at twisting features and limbs and making it look real and beautiful. Definitely unmatched in technical ability. Tadema, Da Vinci, Thomas Lawrence, Godward, Leighton, Waterhouse, Sargent, Caravaggio and Disney's Nine Old Men.
PW: Are there any artistic movements you enjoy in particular and why?
R: Academic Art is definitely my favourite type of art, It's not a movement though. Basically all my favourites are stand-outs of the time. My favourite thing is to appreciate good technical ability so the time period or movement isn't that important. That said most of my favourite artists aren't alive anymore. Academic art really pushed theories and having structure to your art, structure in terms of how you would plan and construct your drawing. It sort of set up all the rules that lead into impressionism and super famous Picasso art. I think his famous quote "It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child" is often misinterpreted to mean that it takes more effort to draw with your 'feelings' than drawing with years and years of built on knowledge constructed by literal masters of their craft, when in fact he was trained traditionally (at the time) from a very young age and was really competent in creating 'academic art', he used that information and turned it on its head to paint using the opposite rule set, creating his abstract art. Take from it what you will be he wouldn't have done it without some good ol' structure and an immense amount of art knowledge.
PW: Do you have any opinions or ideals underlying your art?
R: I'm either trying to construct something well or make it look nice, they definitely go hand in hand but can exist separately to some extent too. Basically, just make something good, or funny. Which sounds simple but... Isn't.
PW: The form and colour in your work is really great! Are there any fine art techniques or ways of drawing you like to apply to your own work? How do you anticipate the form and gesture of a character as you’re working on them?
R: Thanks! This is definitely the hardest question to answer. I'm really enjoying using a CarbOThello pencil (sanguine) on newsprint for life drawing lately you get a really smooth line, which works great for how I like to draw as I like using a few lines as possible, whereas something with more tooth will break the movement and make your drawings look more 'vague'? As the detail is spread out a little more between the ridges.
I think having a mental library of renaissance poses, just through looking at so much art has definitely helped when trying to draw a figure. I think adding twists and tilts to body parts like hands and the head really elevate a drawing and make it look refined and elegant. Unfortunately apart from that it has to be just study, understanding how the body fits together (Which is surprising how little we know considering we a.) have a body, and b.) see them all the time.) Getting it wrong a million times helps as well.
PW: Any words for aspiring artists?
R: Join a gym, learn to fail, learn to work hard, learn to get better, learn that getting better doesn't feel good and learn that there are always people better than you. I think that works for life in general though, it's hard to explain to people why the gym will fix your life if you do it properly. Otherwise, work hard and try to be the best you can be at what you do, if you want to do something then take steps to get to it even if you think you're not good enough, action is better than no action. If you do more than what other people are willing to do eventually you'll be the last man standing and Pixar will have to hire me..........
PW: Is there anything you’re currently working on?
I've recently watched a few "The Making Of" Disney documentaries, 101 Dalmatians was great, they were so innovative, everyone should watch it. But from watching a few of those I've been having fun trying to caricature animals, there was this one drawing of Dumbo:
It was inspired by a child in a bath. And it looks like that! But it also looks like a baby elephant at the same time! It's so clever and well balanced and amazing and I can only hope that one day I can make an animal look like a human baby but not disgusting.
PW: What are you into at the moment and what would you recommend for readers who are passionate about animation?
R: My Hero Academia and Attack on Titan are great shows everyone should watch if they like storytelling. Join a gym and lift weights.