Renee Robbins

Painter

Have you noticed how in nature, there are so many similarities between the infinitesimally small and the incredibly large? It sometimes feels like the more we look, the less we understand.

Renee Robbin’s work is born of that friction. She is fascinated by the natural world. Through reconciling what’s real and conceived, she creates stunningly detailed acrylic paintings that play with color and the scientific. Renee is based in Chicago, but she frequently travels for inspiration.

Renee, in Grand Teton National Park
Renee, in Grand Teton National Park

Painting in the header: Trail of Fireflies: Hot Summer Nights, 37 x 50″, acrylic on canvas

In Renee’s Words:

Crescent Tidal Bloom, 36' x36", acrylic on canvas.
Crescent Tidal Bloom, 36′ x36″, acrylic on canvas.

“I create densely layered environments that offer a place for dreaming about our complex relationship to nature and the cosmos. Life presents enchanting explorations through tiny cells, flowering botanicals, biological specimens, brilliant carnivals, and celestial bodies. I position hybrid flora/fauna within a space that simultaneously evokes the deep sea and the distant galaxies. Moving between the real and imagined, my process of painting brings together microscopic and telescopic viewpoints. Quantum particles have their own set of guiding principles, such as in atoms, where electrons and protons cannot touch each other. It’s impossible to observe this happening with the naked eye.

“In a similar way, black holes are guided by their own set of rules and principles. No one has actually seen a black hole or quantum particles but there’s evidence to suggest their existence. The work creates associations or links between things that are seemingly disparate, like stars and plankton, which presents a question or sparks a curiosity about the world. In this way, my paintings respond to biodiversity, in order to bring an understanding or build a connection to our sense of place in the natural world.”

Bling, 23” x 30”, 2015, acrylic on canvas
Bling, 23” x 30”, 2015, acrylic on canvas

On Specific Projects:

Daily Drawing: Week 20 Closer, 5" x 7", gouache on paper, 2011
Daily Drawing: Week 20 Closer, 5″ x 7″, gouache on paper, 2011

“I’m ‘collecting’ National Parks (there are 59) by attempting to visit all of them during my lifetime. I began with Mammoth Cave in 2010 and visit as least one per year. My work is deeply informed by the natural environment so the annual escape from Chicago is absolutely necessary to my growth as an artist. So far I have collected Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Rocky Mountains, Shenandoah, Wind Cave, Badlands, Indiana Dunes, Congaree and the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore.

“One project informed by these visits, The Daily Drawing Project, encompasses 52 weekly series with 366 original small works on paper. I started and completed a painting each day for one year. Each week a subject, format or color palette was outlined for the week of drawings. For example during week 20 the series focused on the Indian Paintbrush flower observed while hiking in the Rocky Mountain National Park.

“My most recent series,Galactic Lagoonsbrings together oceanic and celestial spaces as a tribute to the wonder and diversity in nature. Microscopic forms are meticulously layered on the same scale as planets from our solar system to bring attention to seemingly disparate details outside the range of our human experience. Bright botanical colors merge with shapes and patterns derived from biological specimens and coral reefs.”

Freefall Spaceshot, 30” x 42”, 2015, acrylic on canvas
Freefall Spaceshot, 30” x 42”, 2015, acrylic on canvas
Tilt-A-Whirl, 33” x 33”, 2014, acrylic on canvas
Tilt-A-Whirl, 33” x 33”, 2014, acrylic on canvas
A Hot Mess, 12” x 12”, 2014, acrylic on panel
A Hot Mess, 12” x 12”, 2014, acrylic on panel

All workby Renee Robbins

To see more of Renee’s work, dive into her portfolio and follow her on Instagram.