A Little About my Life
It was my Mother who first ignited my artistic leanings . She'd sit with me and point out how light was coming through a leaf in a special way. She'd say, "Listen to the sound of this crushed ice in my glass of lemon-aid!" It wasn't just what she said, it was the way she said it. I'll never forget the intense look of enthusiasm on her face as she was awakening me to life's miracles! I felt like I was being initiated into a sacred realm that other people weren't noticing. My deep connection with her is what lit up my own appreciation of sight and sound. Ever since my childhood, I yearned to bring others in on our world, to show them what we saw and convince them about how precious life really was. My father felt sure I would be be an artist from early on. I felt his interest in my artistic growth. I'm grateful that my parents respected my desire to be an artist and for encouraging me in that direction. There had been many other artists and musicians in our family so it was not unusual that I should follow suit.
When I was about 7, our family television petered out. My parents preferred to read at night and they had no intention of buying another television. My cries of boredom were answered by the directive to go draw or write stories. After much resistance I gradually resorted to those things and found myself becoming more and more infatuated with the process. Sometimes I would stay up for hours after the family had gone to bed in order to finish a particular painting or drawing. I'd set it up near my bed so I could see it fresh, first thing I'd see in the morning.
Growing up in Laguna Beach California was a huge boost to my art career. Not only was it a gorgeous California, seaside town, but it was a serious art colony and if you were artistically inclined, you got respect. In my younger days, there was no problem with a ten-year-old girl running around town by herself or with friends. We lived on High Drive. It was a 3 story Mediterranean house my parents bought for a song in 1959 being that Mediterranean houses were unpopular at the time. I loved to look out at the ocean from my bedroom. In the morning, you could hear seals barking and waves crashing on the rocks. My parents were lovers of art and music and took me to Audubon films and the Symphony regularly. Sometimes during these films and musical events I'd be so overcome with emotion that I felt I might explode. I almost thought that something might be wrong with me. I also had an intense feeling of compassion for all animals as well as people.
I would ride my bike to High School along the paths above the cliffs looking down at the ocean. I felt an unspeakable bliss with the entire experience. We had an "open campus", so I'd leave school and have lunch at main beach with my friends. The ocean was our backdrop and it was alive with sparkles below the circling seagulls. My art teacher in high school was also the football coach. He was a big help to me in trying out for competitions and getting a scholarship for college. On my way home from school, I would tour the galleries on the coast highway to gather inspiration for my own artwork. It was a goal of mine to be in a gallery there one day. The emphasis on improving talents was big in my family. I was often reminded that "good looks" were fleeting and that a strong self esteem came more from what good you could do rather than how good you looked.
Principia College near St. Louis was where I chose to go to college. It is a small but gorgeous campus on the cliffs overlooking the Missouri river. Prin has a great art department and a close communal feeling to it. I got an art scholarship from the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts which paid for a quarter of my my college tuition but I had to earn the rest of my expenses myself since my parents didn't have the money to loan me. I did that by selling paintings and shell necklaces at the Sawdust Festival by day and running my binocular rental concession at night that served the Pageant of the Masters. My professor at Principia was James Green. He was a noted "California Regionalist" watercolorist in the 30's and 40's who studied with the renowned artists; Rex Brandt, Millard Sheets and Milford Zornes at the Chouinard School of Art in Los Angeles. Along with James Green and 20 other college students I traveled to France, Italy, Switzerland and England where we would visit museums and high ranking people in the art world while in the cities and paint on location in the countrysides. I graduated in 1976 with a BA in Fine Art.
I exhibited in about 10 galleries in Laguna over the years. I also participated in all three Summer Art Festivals there: The Festival of Arts, the Sawdust and the Art -A- Fair Festival. IBM and the Irvine Company have commissioned paintings from me and I've had work displayed at the State Capitol. Some of my collectors have as many as 12 of my paintings. I have established personal relationships with many of them. The South Coast Hospital in Laguna has my work on display in their lobby and other offices. They appreciated the optimism in what I did and felt that might lighten the hearts of people having to be in the hospital. I also license my art with companies worldwide through Greg Young Licensing.
Being raised in Laguna Beach was a blessing for my art career. I'll always cherish my life growing up there. However one of my life lessons has been to remain flexible and because of that, my partner Paul and I decided to move to Asheville, North Carolina. I've always loved the mountains and country living and there came a time when I felt I needed new inspiration. Asheville is in the Appalachian mountains and has much of the same spirit that Laguna had in my early days. Asheville is an art and music mecca that attracts artists and visitors alike. I exhibit in the Woolworth Walk Gallery and The Asheville Gallery of Art, both downtown. Paul, being a violinist/fiddle player is finding rich outlets for his work as well. Our home studio is close to town but in a blissfully quiet, country neighborhood. I'm exploring new mediums and subject matter. This move has been a delightful change for both of us.
I am continually inspired to live this creative life. I can't imagine ever retiring! I love communicating feelings and ideas to others through all of my investigations! I'm in the process of writing and illustrating a children's book right now and I'm enjoying the added element of expressing ideas along with creating the illustrations. When I'm not painting, I'm enjoying simply being alive! Its always the little things that matter to me the most. Family, friends, walks, talks, cooking, gardening, eating, laughing, sleeping.... that's what truly makes the world amazing!
Robin Wethe Altman Artist Bio
Laguna Beach HS, CA 1972, Principia College, Illinois BA Studio Art 1976, Art Study Abroad in UK, France, Italy, Switzerland, Laguna Beach School of Art and Design, Study with Scott Moore and Rodger Armstrong, Carolyn Lord, James Green (California Regionalist), Watson Cross and Jeff Horn. Four year art scholarship from The Festival of Arts in Laguna Beach CA
Festival Of Arts 1993-2002, Sawdust Festival 1972-1979, Art-A-Fair 2003- 2017, Scottsdale Artfest AZ, La Jolla Art Festival, Events Group La Jolla, California State Senate, Laguna Moulton Playhouse, Echoes and Visons Niguel Art Association, Dana Point Coastal Arts, Irvine Fine Arts Center, Gary’s Island Newport Beach CA, Balboa Island Artwalk, Mission San Juan Capistrano Show, Paint San Clemente, “She Writes” Salon San Clemente, Pen Women Show Wells Fargo Bank,
In Laguna Beach: Ester Wells Collection, Ruth Mayer Gallery, Coast
Gallery, Quorum Gallery, Semion’s Gallery, Gallery 224, Li Ying Gallery, Watercolor Gallery, Woodbridge Gallery Irvine, Ashland Gallery Ashland OR, June’s Gallery Newport Beach, Gary’s Island Newport Beach, Cottage Gallery San Juan Capistrano, The Asheville Gallery of Art, The Foundation Studio in Asheville, NC, and The Woolworth Walk in Asheville, NC, Online with Etsy, Online with Fine Art America, Asheville Gallery of Art, and Woolworth Walk in Asheville.
Awards and Publications:
Best of Show Events Group, AZ, Best of Show Laguna Niguel Art
Association, Permanent Collection California State Senate, Permanent Collection South Coast Medical Center CA, Permanent Collection International Business Machines, Art-A-Fair Poster Artist, Permanent Collection The Irvine Company, Illustrations for “Celteste” children’s book, Greeting Cards for Leanin Tree Card Company CO, Red Robin Lane Wine Label Napa Valley, puzzles for Hasbro, Elms Puzzle Company, and Staves Puzzle Company, Calendar of paintings of
Hawaii for Pacifica Island Art, Winnie Picks art Projects.
Jobs and Art Associations:
Dana Point Coast Arts Group secretary, Art-A-Fair Juror, Meet the Masters teacher, Juror Idyllwild Art Association, Juror Reflections Program, Juror Laguna Woods Art Association, Art Demos for Mission Viejo, San Clemente and Yorba Linda Art Assoc,
Juror Del Logos Art Show, Banner, Pallet and Mural Artist for Laguna Beach, Environmental Poster for Transition Laguna Beach, Designer of Letterhead for S.A.R.A.H. Interfaith Foundation, Designer for R Star Foundation Poster, Designer for Buddhist Poster for feeding the hungry, Facebook Manager for the Asheville Gallery of Art, Licensing worldwide with Greg Young, Facebook Manager for Asheville Gallery of Art, and Mural for The Center for Spiritual Living Asheville.