The Possibilities of Showing Character with Rosalind Roberts

The Possibilities of Showing Character with Rosalind Roberts

February 05, 2019

Rosalind Roberts was born in England, but has lived in Italy for practically all of her adult life. Rosalind studied for three years art school in Bedfordshire in the ‘60s and then moved to Milan, for what was meant to be a sabbatical year but which turned into a lifelong adventure.

Rosalind put aside her love of painting for something like twenty years to bring up her family and when she took up my brushes again she found she had to start from scratch, it wasn’t like riding a bike! Now she knows that she will never not paint. It is her life and part of who she is.

"Milan Summer Rain", Rosalind Roberts, Acrylic on Canvas, 2018


What initially drew you towards becoming an artist?

I think initially art may have been my chosen way of communication. I didn’t find it easy to communicate with my fellow human beings through normal channels when I was a youngster so in the very beginning I would keep a journal and write a lot until I found that I could express myself better by painting.

How would you describe your own personal style?

Failing eyesight is blurring the edges and I’m playing on this somewhat. I’ve always felt that leaving something for the observer to discover and make his/her own, adds mystery and interest to a painting.

What pushed you in that direction and how can you see your work evolving in the future?

As my eyesight problem is of a degenerative nature, I think this may cause my art to become ever more abstract. I’ll always be a figurative artist but tending more towards an abstracted version of reality is where I see myself going.

"Men in Hats", Rosalind Roberts, Acrylic on Canvas, 50cm x 60cm, 2018


What inspires you in your work, is there a driving factor that draws you to the easel?

I’ve often asked myself this and can’t really come up with anything other than to say that it just seems part of who I am. Some people may feel compelled to get on their bike, or play the violin every chance they have, I take to my brushes. Luckily, I can now do it on a much more regular basis.

Are there particular individuals who have encouraged / inspired you along the way, friends, family, teachers, maybe even other artists?

I couldn’t possibly name any one artist who inspires me, there are so many and so diverse. Mr Barry, my oil painting tutor in the 60’s, was particularly kind and spent a lot of time helping and advising me while standing in front of my easel adding little improvements to the painting. He’s long gone now but I often think of him with affection.

When it comes to creating your work, do you have a preferred medium, certain types of brushes or tools you love to use?

I love oils but when I discovered acrylic paint in 2014 I fell for its fast drying quality. I’m a quick worker and lose patience with the drying times of oil paint (especially when my cat takes to walking all over paintings left to dry). I work with large, square brushes, quickly covering the canvas.

"Woman at the Window with Cat", Rosalind Roberts, Acrylic, 70x60cm, 2018


When it comes to the subject matter of your work, what draws you to those themes?

You won’t believe this, but I often wake up in the morning with an image buzzing around in my head. I don’t know where it’s come from but I have to get it on paper and even canvas if it works. In the past I had a fixation with those white balustrades that are so much a part of Mediterranean buildings. I love to paint those and still today they crop up in my paintings.

Could you describe the process behind your art? How do you get from concept to execution?

Sometimes a thought for my next painting goes around in my head for several days before I actually start to work on it. Then I usually draw with charcoal or paint with brush directly onto the canvas. It’s quite frenetic until the whole emerges and then I can calm down and define areas.

Is there a fellow artist alive today that you admire? If so, why?

Jiri Havlick from the Czech Republic who does some amazing work. I admire him so much because his art is so very distinctive and exclusive. I’ve never seen anything like it.

"The Blue Robe", Rosalind Roberts, Acrylic on Canvas, 40cm x 30cm, 2018


If you could travel back in time, is there a particular artistic period / era that you would like to have been involved in?

I would love to have been in France during the second half of the 19th Century. The impressionists have been such an inspiration to everything that followed. It must have been incredible being among them, all that passion and fervour, attempting to get across the revolutionary way of seeing and depicting things.

What challenges do you feel the 21st century artist has to overcome?

The main challenge of course is always about money. How to be faithful to oneself and one’s own work and not just paint things you think may sell. This is very difficult if you need to make a living with your art. I’ve found the trick is to have two parallel but distinct roads where you can work on things you want to develop for your own personal progress whilst leaving time to produce something that may pay the bills.

"Women in Hats", Rosalind Roberts, Acrylic on Canvas, 50cm x 60cm, 2018 


We have all heard of the unfinished masterpiece, even Da Vinci laboured away at the Mona Lisa for years and years, have you works that are in a continual process of evolution? When working on an artwork do you find it hard to let go? Knowing when enough is enough?

I tend to underwork things and then go back and add something or rework it maybe even months later. Apart from that I don’t like to labour away at something, if it doesn’t work, I’ll scrap it and start again, or move onto something else.

Many people see artists as storytellers or advocates for a cause, do you believe that it is an artist’s responsibility to shine a light on a particular subject / theme, or do you create purely for the sake of expression your creative nature?

Recently lots of artists have depicted in one way or another the boat people and the tragedy of the migrant situation throughout Europe. I think this is a good way for artists to open people’s eyes (and hearts) to something they have perhaps tried to ignore. All artistic forms have this possibility so why not use it?

What are you working on at the moment?

Some years ago I painted something called “The Hatters”. It was done with a minimal palette and was just a crowd of people with hats. I’ve started elaborating on that theme and, what was originally a series of three, is now an ongoing series that may continue forever. With this theme, I like to explore the possibility of showing character without actual facial features. Seeing how much I can say about a person using as little detail as possible.

To view Rosalind's full collection click - The Online Art Gallery of Rosalind Roberts

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