Robert Gamblin’s first mentor was David Foster at the University of Oregon in the late 1960's. Dave was a student of Bauhaus instructor, Lazlo Maholy-Nagy. Dave taught that image making was a medium of communication. For Robert this implied having something to say in a manner that can be understood.
Robert was accepted in 1971 into the graduate painting program at San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco California. While most students at SFAI were neo expressionistic studio painters, Robert saw the beauty in Golden Gate Park. He began his life long relationship of painting landscapes at that time and then dropped out of SFAI. He spent the next year in Europe visiting the major art capitals from London to Istanbul to Crete to see for himself the foundations of art in history.
Wolf Kahn was Robert's next mentor. Wolf was a student of the abstract expressionist painter, Hans Hoffman. Robert learned how to take a leap from painting a landscape into painting a personal form of the landscape based on color and feelings.
Around 1980, Robert was looking for meaningful work. His Sicilian family had always cooked from scratch and he thought he might try making oil colors from scratch, in the manner of the finest European manufacturers.
Working out of his garage with a Hobart mixer and a 3-roll mill he started what is now Gamblin Artists Colors, (www.gamblincolors.com), an international brand of oil painting materials. Robert traveled the country the following thirty years to educate a generation of American painters about their materials. He made a major contribution to the practice of painting through the development of materials that has made oil painting safer than ever before. Today he is part of the marketing and new product development teams at GAC.
Robert founded Gamblin Conservation Colors in 2000 (www.conservationcolors.com). The company makes color for conservators and restorers world wide to use in the repair of damaged artwork. The colors are used by the conservation departments in most of the major museums. The company was the result of a 5-year research project led by René de la Rie, Head of the Science Dept., National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., Mark Leonard, Head of Conservation, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles California and Jill Whitten, Whitten Proctor Conservation, Houston Texas.
Robert shares a wonderful studio with his wife the artist Catherine Kumlin in Portland Oregon.
An important contribution of modern art has been the suggestion that we look at the world around us with artistic eyes. I find this approach compelling while walking the streets of Palm Springs.
The combination of the conscious clean design of the mid-century architecture with the strong sun of the desert creates constantly changing abstract compositions that are truly artistic. The softening effect of the dessert landscaping juxtaposed to the linear design of the buildings completes the overall impression for me.
To these three elements I bring to the painting process my understanding of color in order to communicate excitement, or mystery, or sometimes to use color simply to strengthen the abstract quality of the architectural detail that has caught my attention.
The pure landscape paintings in this exhibition serve as a balance to the focus on architecture. These landscapes explore the other aspect of the Coachella Valley that I find most interesting: the way that light fills the bowl of the valley; sometimes it’s a warm light, sometimes a cool light, sometimes the light is a soft grey. This light is most beautiful at the very edges of the day when it doesn’t have to compete with the strength of the sun and I feel the spirit of the landscape most strongly.
- Robert Gamblin