Corinne Robbins

The Shape of the World

<em>Lake House Wood</em>, 2013, oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches; below, <em>Cold Spring</em>, 2014, oil on canvas, 24 x 24 inches;
Lake House Wood, 2013, oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches; below, Cold Spring, 2014, oil on canvas, 24 x 24 inches;

After working as a furniture collector and designer in New York City, Corinne Robbins moved to the Hudson Valley three years ago. Although she still operates an online store, she has spent much of the last decade rekindling her love for landscape painting. Here, she discusses the power of focusing on shapes, isolating color, and letting your creativity flow.

“When I was a small child, art was something that happened naturally. My mother always put crayons in my hand. The act of drawing, even with a simple tool like a crayon, put me in a different world. I still hold onto that kind of pureness. My paintings now are about trying to not overthink the process and to be that child (and I mean a really young child, because once you’re a tween, you start wanting to make things realistic). I want it to flow like when you’re a child because it just comes out. And that’s the beauty: when a child draws anything on a piece of paper, they’re not really thinking—it’s just flowing. I try to do that as an adult because adults are a little more complicated. It’s about letting your unconscious go, so to speak.

Seeing something in nature or just walking around and seeing something I’m attracted to, I see the shapes. I see the color. So I want to put that in a painting somehow. I love the color, yet at the same time, that doesn’t mean I’m a colorist. I try to take color from nature—earth tones but mixed with brighter colors that are certainly also in nature. It’s just taking a slice out of nature and putting it on canvas.

Robbins, Cold Spring

Nature is constantly changing, every day and every moment. In the winter, when the trees shed their leaves, there are so many things that pop out. It’ll be like, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s a blue house over there?’ or I’ll see a hidden barn in the woods that I’ve never seen before. There are all these curiosities that open up. It’s one of my favorite times to find new subject matter.

I’m constantly looking at the world differently. I see the painting—that’s all I see. It’s like if you’re a fashion designer and you’re constantly looking at what people are wearing. I constantly see the world and all its shapes. That’s what it is: shapes and blocks of color.”

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Noelani Kirschner is a former assistant editor for the Scholar.


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