Friday, June 5, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 14

Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on June 5th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 14 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 20, Issue 14

This and That showcases three local artists at Gallery Los Olivos


For oil painter Patti Robbins, no still life begins without a “treasure hunt,” as she calls it. A collection of vessels, plants, fabrics, and other items that appeal to the artist ensues before she’s ready to start painting. 

See for yourself
This and That features art by Patti Robbins, Julie Fish, and Jayne Behman and runs through Sunday, June 30, at Gallery Los Olivos. The gallery is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is located at 2920 Grand Ave., Los Olivos. Call (805) 688-7517 or visit for more info.

Oil painter Patti Robbins assembles an assortment of pottery, glassware, plants, fabrics, and other items to be the subjects of her still life paintings.

Robbins will occasionally borrow vases, bowls, and plates from friends or purchase new ones that catch her eye. Flowers, succulents, citrus, weeds, and branches are gathered during a walk around her property in Arroyo Grande. These assembled treasures take center stage on the canvas, with each object carefully coordinated to fit Robbins’ compositional preferences. 

“I enjoy the process of orchestrating the elements,” Robbins told the Sun. “The objects chosen are arranged in such a way that they invite you into the painting and hopefully keep your attention.”

The last step of Robbins’ preparation process—before sketching and finally painting—is studying the shadows, cast by sunlight coming through her studio windows. This is when items become subject to rearrangement or removal. 

“Color ties the objects together,” Robbins said. “Placement creates the dialogue between the objects.”

All of Patti Robbins’ still life paintings consist of colorful patterns (usually polka dots, stripes, swirls, or batik patterns).

The language of this dialogue? Pattern and rhythm, Robbins explained. The vibrant backgrounds of Robbins’ still life paintings always consist of colorful patterns, usually polka dots, stripes, swirls, or batik patterns—never solid colors, she said. 

“Color, pattern, and movement create a contemporary feel. The more complicated the pattern, the better,” Robbins said. “Sometimes even I get dizzy trying to paint them!”

Attendees of This and That, a new group show at Gallery Los Olivos, will be able to view some of Robbins’ newest still life paintings. The exhibit opened in late May and runs through Sunday, June 30. Robbins is one of the show’s three featured artists, along with digital artist Jayne Behman and painter Julie Fish

This and That marks the second occasion this local trio has collaborated on a group show at Gallery Los Olivos, the first being Women at Work: Three Artistic Visions in July 2017. Prior to the exhibit’s opening reception on Saturday, June 1, Robbins hadn’t seen the pieces her colleagues chose for the show, and nor did they see hers, she said.

“We like the element of surprise,” Robbins said. “However, we are familiar with each other’s body of work, and we know what to anticipate. We share the element of color—bold, in-your-face color.”

With subjects ranging from island princesses to bear riders, many of artist Julie Fish’s pieces share a whimsical touch of fantasy.

Although each artist mutually embraces colorful vibrancy, their creative methods couldn’t be more different from one another. Behman’s digital paintings and collages, for example, were all completed through intricate platforms on her iPad.

“Because of its [the iPad’s] portability combined with unlimited choices of art related applications, I have been allowed to create anywhere, all the time,” Behman said in an artist statement on her website. “Regardless of the final effort, all of my compositions adhere to the simple disciplines of line, form, and color relationships.”

Meanwhile, Fish’s pieces for This and That are the products of an “intuitive technique,” as she calls it. It’s a method she’s used since first learning how to paint, under the tutelage of artist Benigno Gomez while living in Honduras during the mid 1980s.

“I do not plan my paintings usually,” Fish told the Sun, while explaining the process. Rather than begin each painting with a definitive vision in mind, Fish starts with lines and shapes and discovers figures and scenes within those boundaries. The imagery is fleshed out from that point on. 

One of Julie Fish’s pieces selected for This and That was created from pouring paint on a tilted canvas, a method Fish hadn’t tried before this year.

With subjects ranging from island princesses to bear riders, many of Fish’s pieces share a whimsical touch of fantasy. But a recent circumstance in Fish’s life inspired a bit of experimentation, she explained. Some of her paintings selected for This and That were created while the artist was in a wheelchair for three months, healing a broken ankle.

“My perspective changed because I had only done these intuitive paintings while standing my full 6 feet,” Fish told the Sun. “I became more inventive and used different techniques that were spontaneous.” 

Instead of brushes, for example, Fish used window scrapers to paint one of her new pieces. Throwing and pouring paint on a tilted canvas were other methods Fish hadn’t tried before. Exploring new techniques reinvigorated her creativity, she said, and kept her painting during the healing process.

“I realized then that I had to keep painting and making things to be who I am and be happy,” Fish said. m

Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood would rather throw paint than a football, baseball, or Frisbee any day. Send information to

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