Robin Swennes will exhibit “For the Love of the Blues” at Casco Bay Artisans, 68 Commerical St., Building A, Portland, from Sept. 10 to Oct. 11.
In her own words:
I must have a thousand photos of blueberries that I use for reference when I paint. They can look so different—whether it’s that frosty periwinkle blue color that is almost a dust that can be swept off the berry by the touch of a human hand, or when they are bruised with deep purple indents, or when some of the skin is peeled back and a rust color comes peeking through. It’s because of those different appearances that each painting I do becomes a one-off that I can never exactly recreate. Light, or lack of it, can create highlight tones we take for granted, but I try to exploit and expand upon them. Our brains know the berries are blue, but when you really start looking, there really are numerous other colors dancing around.
Years ago, somebody mentioned the idea of fractals in nature to me and it opened my eyes to start looking for examples. They are everywhere if you just look. Blueberries are perfect, little, tasty orbs that keep repeating on the bush — for a limited time in Maine — so they are precious. I find myself wanting to slow time down to capture them for a bit longer. A painting can do that and will remind you that nature will gift you with these gems again in the coming year when the days get hot and sunset comes late.
I have never had much of a sense of smell, so I rely more on my other senses. I may not know how blueberries smell, but I can tell you that they’re divine when heated up with a brownie from Standard Baking Co in Portland or paired with a fresh, still warm, homemade chocolate chip cookie. It probably goes without saying that every time I start another blueberry painting, I end up making more than a few trips to the kitchen to get some good chocolate and sprinkle some berries over it. How precious the short blueberry season in Maine is to me!