Robin Sawyer


Robin Sawyer has explored many paths during her life as a working artist. Music was her first serious creative endeavor, and in Southern California she taught and played piano professionally. Then, an inspiring visit to Guatemala redirected her focus. Immersed in that vibrant culture, she began photographing the locals and their brightly colored textiles. Upon returning from her stay, she entered a professional photography program at San Francisco’s Academy of Art, with the intention of making a career of it. Sawyer anticipated becoming a photojournalist, but eventually turned to architectural photography, which she practiced successfully in the Bay Area. Through that medium, she was drawn to form, contrast and line. These concepts eventually found their way into her fine art photography, which was exhibited in numerous galleries and featured in a solo museum show at the Coyote Point Museum in San Mateo. But despite her successes, Sawyer grew disenchanted. Feeling that the camera had become a barrier rather than an aid to her work, she enrolled in drawing and painting classes at a local college. There she found the satisfaction and hands-on interaction she had craved. By the 1990s Sawyer had relocated to the Monterey Bay area and was phasing out her photography business and forging ahead with painting. She applied to the MFA program at San Jose State and was one of only eight painters accepted. She continued to study, exploring printmaking, drawing, and painting, but ultimately focused on the medium of oils. An enthusiastic engagement with the richness, depth of color, and malleability of oil paint became a dominant characteristic of all her work, and clearly evident regardless of her subject or approach. Robin Sawyer expresses her engagement with painting through the polarities of representation and abstraction. Her questing spirit fosters self-reflection, and shifts of emphasis have enabled her to frequently reexamine and reimagine the kind of work she wants to make. A longtime spiritual practice, centered in the Buddhist principles of awareness, compassion, and impermanence is a valued ally, and supports her openness to risk taking and intuitive process. As ever, Sawyer forges ahead into new territory, drawing in what she’s gained from past experience. In seeking a more soulful and unified approach, she has successfully cultivated a rich, personal body of work.

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