Robin Wethe Altman from Laguna Beach, California loves painting colorful facades and sunny afternoons at the beach. She gets all her inspiration from oceans and mountains.
Where are you from and why do you enjoy the most about this place?
Most of my life was spent in Laguna Beach, California USA, but I recently moved to Asheville North Carolina, USA.
What I LOVE about this place is that it is in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains! The weather is perfect!! Four seasons but not too hot in the Summer and not too cold in the winter.
The city of Asheville is very progressive. It's full of artists and musicians and tourists loved to come here because of that. The people are very community-oriented and friendly. There are many rivers and waterfalls and hiking trails. There is plenty of rainfall.
Where are you the most inspired to paint? What inspires you the most to paint?
Right now the mountains inspire me the most. I loved being by the ocean too, but I needed a change and I think I am a country person at heart. Nature is what inspires me the most but I also love people and objects and the way light shines on almost anything! I want to encourage people to see the underlying spirit of all things and to feel the joy of optimism.
What is the story behind your subjects? What do you prefer to paint?
I especially love paintings that have small homes in them. There is just something about a humble, cozy home that makes me feel safe and secure and happy. I also love animals in nature, mountains, ocean scenes, and people.
When did you discover your talent? And was it because of a person, an event, a specific situation?
My family is made up of almost all artists and musicians. My husband is a violinist/fiddle player. My father was an ace fighter pilot but turned out to be a spiritual healer late in life. I think I embraced his sadness about war and I am completely about peace. He saw my artistic talent when I was just three years old and encouraged me to be an artist as did my mother who was a writer and musician. My mother was ecstatic about nature and she would show me the beauty in everything so that I felt I had some sort of privileged insight into hidden heaven of some sort.
Can you tell us about your favorite setup to paint? (morning coffee, late evening jazz…)
By about noon I'm sitting at my drafting table. It's right next to a big sliding glass door that looks out to a deck where I feed squirrels, chipmunks, and birds, and beyond that is our big backyard with a garden I just planted for the first time. I REALLY enjoy coffee and the highlight of my day might include a cookie!! I love having pets lay at my feet as I paint. Right now we foster animals until they can get a permanent home.
Can you explain how different is your painting technique from the acrylic paint used with paint by numbers?
A lot of my paintings were done in watercolor. I found them to be a little easier to get detail with. But I used them in a stronger way than most do... loading up the brush with thick paint and not as much water.
Do you have a piece of advice to share with a beginner regarding… a technique, an angle, a piece of equipment?
I like what my art professor said in college. He said that there was "no such thing as talent, only DESIRE". Almost everyone I share this with disagrees. I think some people have a knack of painting or drawing, but what he meant was that if a person has a great desire, they will STICK with art and try again and again and are teachable.
They will ENJOY trying to paint a lot and those people are the ones that actually improve! I started painting with paint by numbers! I think you can see that in my style. It's just a simple way of organizing what you see I think. But from there, you will learn how to take any subject and do the same with it. You can be a little sloppy with your own painting and that will make it feel more fun and expressive. Painting is mostly about learning how to see.
What is your funniest memory of painting?
I don't know if it's so funny really... but the most interesting story I have about painting was early in my career when I was really struggling with a painting. I felt so lost and upset about how the painting looked. I was angry, frustrated, and at my witts end. But my art professor had warned us about not finishing paintings. He said that was a bad habit to get into. Instead, just have fun with it and get it done no matter what. So, I finally finished this painting of my hometown ... Laguna Beach and I liked it SO much that I got inspired to make posters from it. I not only sold the original for a great deal, but I also sold ALL of the posters in a short time and many people liked this painting. So.... don't fret or give up on yourself. You never know what might become of a painting you think you don't like!
Any fun or other facts you want to share, feel free!
I'm grateful beyond measure that my parents didn't tell me I couldn't be an artist because artists don't make enough money. Instead, my father said, "oh, you want to be an artist? Well then, we will just have to find a way that you can learn to be a VERY good artist so that you will do well!" Because I was an artist, I could also be at home with my mother for her last two years. She moved here to Asheville with us and she was SO happy being here with us and not having to go to a nursing home. Also, my children (three girls) loved that I worked at home. If ever they were sick, it was no problem. They could stay at home with me. When they got home from school, I was there to listen to them. I made the decision early on to not try and paint while my kids were home and awake. I wanted to be available to them and not engrossed in art when they needed me. I think that was a good choice.