Five questions to Robert Perkins

Five questions to Robert Perkins

Robert Perkins (born 1965 in Northern California) has lived and worked in San Francisco for over 35 years. He previously studied painting and printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) and has participated in numerous exhibitions to date.

How did you get into art?

Encouragement began at home. My mother Barbara was fascinated with horticulture and painting. This enthusiasm still shines in my own work today. In my ‘salad days’; I had visions of mechanical drawing and architecture for my future. In 1984 a friend and mentor convinced me to take a drawing class. From that point on I was a sponge. Captivated by the Expressionists and enamored by DaDa. The next two years were dedicated to building a portfolio to apply for art school. I never questioned my decision.

How would you describe your style? What makes your art special?

While I feel I’ve been painting the same images for four decades, I still find excitement in getting lost within a painting.

Best thought of as a snake chasing its own tail. Circular gestures of botanical and figurative motion, inner twined with layers of strait edged
lines and geometric shapes, this lends to building a landscape for these gestures. Within this dance are pinpoints of tension, where the circular and hard line intersect. Color play adds to the tensity and volume of the shapes. A push and pull of foreground perception.

How do you go about developing your work?

Trust. Knowing that there are hours of sloppy mess ahead of you. Allowing the happy accidents to shine, while not allowing a precious corner to override a painting too soon. It’s called ‘pushing paint”; a term coined by a great painter and mentor, Sam Tchakalian. Pushing through your fog and mistakes until clarity. Having six or more canvases prepped and ready or in motion helps reduce the static. Always learning, but trusting in my abilities and style.

Who or what influences you? 

Influences seem to happen daily, shadow play on the ground or the curve of a body can equally resonate. The influence of other artists may not be as apparent in my own work but plays a foundational aspect. The organic abstraction in an O’Keeffe or Surrealist work. The confidence in a Clifford Still painting. The sheer beauty of the Pont Aven School, or Cubism play of light and depth

I was fortunate to work as an artist assistant and printmaker with some prestigious art houses of California (Crown Point Press, Limestone Press, Garner Tullis Studio and The Anderson Collection). Working firsthand and side by side with great contemporaries enhanced my drive and respect for art.

What are you planning to do next?

Currently creating and editing for an upcoming solo show in San Francisco, early 2024. Exploration and experimenting with multiple paint mediums at once. The use of oil paired with enamel and tempera, lending to dull and gloss side by side.

As a personal experiment, I’m intrigued in creating a series of ‘still life’ seen through my abstract lense. And keep ‘Pushing Paint’ daily.