One Day in a Studio: Robbie Kaye

Posted by Elizaveta Zhurkovskaya on

California-based artist Robbie Kaye takes photographs and creates distinctive resin paintings, sometimes merging the two, with the goal of producing a provocative aesthetic that invites conversation and interpretation. Whether literal or abstract, the artist sees her work as an ongoing journal, one that has provided her a voice to express what she otherwise might not. We interviewed Robbie to learn more about her practice, inspirations, and what she’s working on today.


1. How does your creative day look like and what inspires you to make art? Has your creative day changed due to Covid-19?
This sounds so silly, but life inspires me to make art… everything about it…the joys, the victories, the struggle, loss…everything. Creating art, for me, is an extension of journaling in my notebook, only I do it on a canvas… or a musical instrument. I am very committed to my morning ritual of solitude, drinking a glass of water with a prebiotic powder, meditation, tapping, writing… oh and I light a candle and incense. My creative day has become even more sacred since Covid-19, as it provides me refuge, sanity, and a place to disperse and transform any stress or worry about the present-day circumstances. 

2. Tell us more about your art studio.
I love my studio. Again, it is my refuge and luckily my husband has been very supportive in me converting our garage into a place to create. Every time I walk through the door and enter my studio and see all my paints and canvases, I am reminded of a time when I went to sleep-away camp from age 5-15, and couldn’t wait for the arts and crafts session… the smell of paint and castile soap… and now for me, still the smell of pain but also resin and it’s always completely delighting to walk the next day after spending the day before creating… to see what came out. I have some memorabilia in my studio from my youth, photos of dogs, now in heaven and I count my blessings that I have a big window that looks out on the beautiful trees outside… and some natural light gets in. I also light candles and incense while I’m working…


3. How did you first get interested in your medium/s?
When I was a touring musician, my partner and I started working on a photography project, “Skeletons” and while we drove from town to town, we’d pull over and he would take photographs of things decaying on the side of the road… or once in a harbor and we rented a wave runner to get to it. The duo broke up and I loved directing photography so much that I bought my first camera and booked a trip to Spain for 3 weeks. I traveled alone and found that my camera was the one I was saying to, “look at that! And did you see that?” It became my companion… and made the trip a little less lonely and maybe even documenting some of the loneliness I felt on the trip. I think I used 12 rolls of film… some black and white and some color. From there I was hooked and then studied photography at The University of Southern California, where I worked and went back to school at age 41. About 5 years ago I was given the idea to paint with motorcycle tires…to design fabrics and I created leggings and sweatshirts with colored tracks… and called it “Treads on Threads.”

After a couple of years, I found that retail art wasn’t really for me, and because the photography world was becoming so saturated I found myself at a crossroads. I was in an artist’s mastermind group at the time and a good friend and an amazing artist in the group suggested that I try working with resin… and to go big. For some reason, it resonated with me and before I knew it, I had 4 x 6 ft pieces of aluminum, a blow torch, and resin in my not yet completely converted garage studio. I lost myself in this medium and was like the mad scientist… taking cues from my colleague but also experimenting because it was all new and different for me. I used motorcycle tires for a few pieces and then just started using brushes and my hands… in gloves of course. I loved coloring the resin and moving it around and started creating abstract pieces. I started working in that medium about two and a half years ago and submitted my work to a gallery for representation after a year and was fortunate to have my work selected. I spent the next year creating many pieces, still experimenting and transcribing what I would usually create photographically onto the aluminum… or wood. I continued working with resin and experimented with combining photography with resin. I recently started working with just acrylic paint and I am loving the process… on aluminum, on canvas on wood… I just love working with the colors and seeing how they work with each other… it all comes back to music for me… the composition… the many players creating a symphony or a unified sound, all together… coming together… to create that one beautiful sound.

4. Describe your style in one sentence.
I am an art and photojournalist, always documenting my experience of life.

5. Has your style changed over time?
My style has changed times, and changes all the time… as do I.

6. What are your main artistic tools?
Acrylic paint, resin, aluminum, Nikon 7100, iPhone Pro Max 11, piano

7. Do you ever experience creativity blocks and how do you stay positive and inspired?
I don’t really have blocks as creating to me is like breathing. I think there comes a time when a writer, or artist needs to slow down or stop and fill up on life to have those experiences in their ‘toolbox’ to create… I stay inspired by music, being quiet in solitude, traveling as much as possible, and being in nature which always inspires me. I stay positive by reading or listening to inspirational books, journaling, and working with people who inspire me…I work with a high-performance coach as well as an art consultant. J Also, I watch “Whose Line is it Anyway?” as much as possible.

8.What artists - either contemporary or from history - have had an impact on you and your art practice?
Georgia O’Keefe, Cindy Sherman, Rothko, Diane Arbus, Amy Arbus, Helen Leavitt, Robert Frank, Jason Martin, Monet, Matisse, Leigh Shenton, Abi Hodes, Walker Evans, Ansel Adams.

9. Do you think the art world has changed or will be changing due to the pandemic? If yes, how?
Yes, galleries will be showing more work online, while they will probably limit how many people are in the physical gallery at one time… I see a ton more calls for submissions, which is great for artists… great exposure.

10. What project are you working on right now? What would you like to do next?
I just started a new project called, “Aftermath” I don’t think it’s so much about the Pandemic, not directly, but more about the opportunity it has given me to be more still and delve into my own soul… to get quiet and ask questions that create space in my mind as I go deeper to find that peace that is always there, but so easily covered up and muffled by conditions… external and internal… and especially now… It has been a very fertile time, a time to process so much loss, not just personally, but globally and the coming together we have all been witnessing… A time that really proposes the question, “Who are you?” or “Who do you want to be?” So with that, I am creating work that feels intrinsically connected to where I am at this time… after all the diving deep… a lightness is more present and I am creating from that space… or rather, I am allowing the muse, the creative Goddess… whatever or whoever… to flow through me as I open …. I am truly just the vessel.

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