Saturday, November 28, 2015

Small still lifes

Blue cheese with sage and french bread - Oil on canvas board 8" X 6"

Lemons on wood box - Oil on canvas board 8" X 6"

Lemons and green depression glass plate - Oil on canvas board 8" X 6"

Lavender tied with a blue bow - Oil on canvas board 8" X 6"

Lemons with Pink lemonade in blue spotted depression glass - Oil on canvas board 8" X 6"

Lemons with Pink lemonade in blue spotted depression glass - Oil on canvas board 8" X 6"

Fresh pomegratate by Buddhist stupa offering bowl - Oil on canvas board 8" X 6"
Collection of Brent White

Fresh papaya by Buddhist stupa offering bowl - Oil on canvas board 8" X 6"
Collection of Brent White

Brie cheese and blackberries - Oil on canvas board 6" X 6"

Brie cheese and berries - Oil on canvas board 6" X 6"
Collection of Brent White

Cranberries on plate on red and white stripes - Oil on canvas board 8" X 6"

Geraniums in jam jar - Oil on canvas board 10" X 8"

Blueberries with cream in blue glass pitcher - Oil on canvas board 6" X 6"
Collection of Brent White

Pink, white and yellow roses in glass vase - Oil on canvas board 6" X 6"

Roses in swirly glass vase - Oil on canvas board 6" X 6"

Two lemons in front of blue tile - Oil on canvas board 6" X 6"

Figs with article by James Eaton

Broken Figs - Oil on canvas board 6" X 6"

By James Eaton

Robin Anderson is a talented still life artist from Southern California.  Her past subjects have primarily been 
flowers – often on a grand style.  “Figs” is a significant departure from Robin’s previous work.  The subject 
challenges more than pleases the patron; but that said, “Figs” pleases me greatly.  Almost everything about 
this painting is a serious departure from Robin’s past work including subject, condition of the subject, color, 
technique, atmosphere, space, and the intangible sense of life as raw, physical, and seductively beautiful.  
Robin has done with her art what I would like to do with my life, if I were not so cowardly and proud; I 
believe that is the essence of her job as an artist.  Robin has undergone an enormous transformation and 
then showed it to us, without hesitation, with canvas and paint.

Robin painted this image from life, and that alone explains a raw intensity to the canvas I have rarely seen in 
her work.  This painting is more accessible to the male sensibility.  It bleeds like an open wound earned in 
battle and worn like an emblem of courage.  If my image makes you uneasy, you have never played a 
dangerous, physical sport, or suffered an injury for a noble purpose.  Robin’s “Figs” capture both the 
immediacy and courage of living with natural forces.  Like “Figure With Meat” by English Painter Francis 
Bacon, Robin’s figs deliver the raw, intensity of nature minus Bacon’s surreal neurotic twists.

Figs are possessed of an ancient symbolism, endowing them with sacred status.  They are soft, sweet, often 
dark and brooding, yet when ripe, their flesh opens easily and bleeds truth.  Like the sacred heart of a 
Madonna in a dark, musty Catholic Church, ripe figs perform their Mass in Latin.  Even if we don’t 
understand the ancient language, we love the sacred rite as it pours over our troubled souls with the sweet 
bouquet of abundant redemption.  Robin’s figs bring this sense of the Mass, of life redeemed by blood 
sacrifice, as I sit alone on the back pew.  Toward the back of the table, Robin’s dark, uncut figs are beautiful 
in their simplicity, color, and anticipation, but are then entirely upstaged by the red, ripe figs already 
executed and oozing life on the ancient wood altar.

Robin’s new technique excites me on a number of levels.  The background space reflects the colors of the 
subjects, but with the ambiguity of a primal dimension where the sacred and the profane separate in the 
dark.  The rough hue of the wood table does not reflect the light of the image – as in some of Robin’s earlier 
paintings.  These figs are not concerned about reflected light; they are brooding, immediate, and possess a 
light of their own.  The wood table is rough and scarred from previous sacred executions.  This would be a 
terrifying image, the soul resting on the altar of its own destruction, but the figs willingly give up their flesh 
and blood.  It is their purpose.  It is why they exist.  It is also why I like the subject matter of this painting.

After all the analysis of symbol and subject, Robin Anderson’s “Figs” is simply a very good painting.  While 
open to analysis, it passes the ultimate test and qualifies as an accomplished, enjoyable work of art.  I would 
display this painting in my home with an arrangement of artifacts, possibly an antique crucifix or collection 
of eclectic but deeply evocative paintings and drawings.  With “Figs”, Robin crossed over to a new style and 
tapped into a new thought stream.  She showed us something of courage and sacrifice, and she showed us 
something of herself.  She can wear this canvas like an emblem of sacred courage. I look forward to her next 
painting. – Jim Eaton

Jam with story by James Eaton

Homemade pomegranate jam by a friend - Oil on canvas board 8" X 6"

By James Eaton
The strong, tart odor of pomegranate jam filled the kitchen, marking a solitary moment for a solitary man, alone in 
the dark and sitting at the end of a long wood table. This was his second meal, just hours after a formal family 
dinner of lamb, eggplant, and dry red wine. It had been a large gathering and included aunts and uncles, siblings 
and cousins, the parish priest and several elderly friends. But now, it was quiet. The kitchen was scrubbed and 
clean. The house was still, but tonight, everyone was alone.

Abel Danielian was tired of conversation and accommodating others. His mood was restive. He preferred to sit at the 
edge of table, outside the harsh pool of ceiling light focused on the open jar. Sitting alone, where darkness 
illuminates memory and moments mingle in the pensive repose of quiet thought, he addressed a plate of cold lamb 
and the tart pomegranate jam combining to bring a sad peace. He was no longer a grandchild visiting the old home 
on a holiday. On the day of his grandmother’s funeral, this was a moment of maturity.

Since moving away, he didn’t eat lamb often and never tasted the pomegranate jam now accenting the strangeness 
of being once again enshrouded by ancient familiar surroundings. A gathering of extended family, grown to 
adulthood, in their grandmother’s home, was pungent, tart, and not an entirely sweet event. Egos were on display 
and old fires reignited. The jar containing the jam reflected the moment like a crystal of indeterminate value 
refracting the overhead light brightly illuminating the table, but quickly surrendering to the gathering darkness at 
the table’s edge. Refracting glass and translucent jam turned into an ambiguous red and purple jewel of light and 
dark, like an uncut ruby waiting for the jeweler’s hand.

Earlier in the day, before the family meal, he was dispatched, like a small boy on an errand, to the old musty cellar to 
bring up the last bottles of pomegranate jam for the table. The cellar stairs strained under the weight of a grown 
man. He could tell his aging grandmother had not been in the disorderly cellar for a long time. The cold smell of 
earth and mildew grew stronger as he descended ten poorly lit stairs leading into the darkness. The stonewalls were 
damp and the wood stairs and shelves decayed. The old coal shuttle opening to the outside at ground level had 
leaked rain and snow for years, accelerating a quiet deterioration of wood and nail. Turning on a flashlight, he 
could see a dozen jars of various jams with single white labels marking the contents of each shelf. On each label, 
hand written in Armenian, was the name of the jam. Not speaking the language of his grandmother, he didn’t 
know which jar contained pomegranate jam, so he brought up three jars, each from different shelves, hoping one 
was pomegranate jam. Offering the jars to his mother, she held each to the bright kitchen light, nodding “yes”, the 
third jar was the one.

Pomegranate jam has a suppressed sweetness, with a cranberry overtone. It is a mature flavor, offering a dark 
pungent rush followed by a tart, vinegar after taste. More a nectar, pomegranate jam is not for bread; it is a 
condiment for beef or lamb. Derived from a thickened juice, pomegranate jam is made in the late fall or early winter. 
Reserved for ceremonial and family events, its flavor is reminiscent of more than meals, it is part of a tradition 
stretching back generations through Southern Europe, the Middle East and Persia. More than jam, it possesses the 
taste and smell of a different place and a now past generation.

With the clumsiness of a man alone in the kitchen, he left a trail of dribbled jam on the table. A woman would be 
more careful, not trickling the valuable nectar, but a man, less subtle, scoops deeply with a knife, leaving too much 
jam on the blade, trailing jam like sacred blood from the jar to the plate. Now, sitting alone in the kitchen, having 
finished his solitary meal, he could hear a train several miles away, making its way up the grade along the tracks by 
the river. The chilly night air was heavy with moisture and sounds traveled great distances like a lonely muted siren 
calling men to memory. A clock on the wall ticketed off the minutes with a soft click and the refrigerator cycled 
down and grew quiet.

“Getting something to eat,” the voice of his mother yawned from behind as she entered the room. She wore an old 
comfortable pink bathrobe and thin blue slippers.

“I woke you?” Abel turned to see her enter the room and sit down next to him at the edge of the light circling the 

“I could smell the jam from the bedroom. Grama used to squeeze the pomegranates by hand to make the juice, then 
she simmered it with vinegar and sugar.” She lifted the open jar to her nose and inhaled deeply. “I could always 
smell this, anywhere in the house, when she opened a jar.”

The two figures were alone in the kitchen for a quiet moment, each looking at the open jar of pomegranate jam. “I 
will miss this place. I will miss pomegranate jam,” he said with the halting sadness of a small boy at his first 

“Yes, we’ll all miss the house,” she said looking around the kitchen. “But I’ll make pomegranate jam next year for 
the holidays.”

He looked at her from the corner of his eyes, and then back to his plate.

“And I’ll teach that Mormon girlfriend of yours to make it too.” She looked at her son with a tired, reassuring smile.

The mother and son sat quietly alone in the dark kitchen for a minute while the old clock ticked softly. In the 
distance, both could hear the straining train arrive at the top of the grade and begin its acceleration on the tracks 
out of town. – Jim Eaton

Pie with story by James Eaton

Berry pie on glass plate - Oil on canvas board 8" X 6"

Berry Pie
by James Eaton
Lunch at the St. Thomas Hotel was presented like Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral one block up the street. The maître d 
lorded over forty-two tables, dispensing the indulgence of forgiveness with butter and lemon sauce to the soul 
weary of means and social position. At lunch, the dark cherry wood tables were set with clean white linen 
tablecloths, arranged at an angle, exposing the dark wood corners. In the evening, fresh tablecloths were turned full-
square, modestly covering the table’s exposed wood corners like the bare shoulders of an attractive woman.

If dinner was High Mass, lunch was Low Mass. Served with less formal plates and without the background 
accompaniment of a string quartet, lunch retained the evening’s elegance of food and service with the holy iconic 
table setting of St. Thomas knives, spoons, and forks. Seemingly over-sized in the hand, when held properly, the 
implements naturally balanced to slope down, addressing the plate like an artist’s brush to the palette. At the heel of 
each piece was the regal crest of the St. Thomas Hotel, molded with gold plate and seemingly chiseled in the heavy 
metal. The crest was a battle signet declaring a meal at St. Thomas was more a moral imperative and less mere 
cuisine. St. Thomas was a fine, old world hotel and restaurant, and its long-time wealthy patrons made it, for over 
one hundred years, the sacred ground of wedding receptions, funeral luncheons, and important meetings to discuss 
the business of living with means. It was hard to imagine who was more loyal to tradition – the aging maître d 
conducting the afternoon culinary Mass of Absolution, or the customers blessed with a central place in the social 
universe of rightful belonging.

Stacey Andrews sat by the large window, at the edge of the dining room. With her back facing the corner where the 
end of the window frame quickly met the wall, her regal gaze surveyed her dominion. If the maître d was the high 
priest of St. Thomas, Stacey was the marble statue of the holy virgin in the corner vestibule, one hand blessing the 
faithful and the other touching her sacred heart. But unlike a holy icon at St Mary’s Cathedral, Stacey’s heart was 
not filled with the passion of sacrifice. Not a bad woman by most standards, Stacey was a proud woman and her 
heart was filled with judgment as she anointed her family and friends with the holy oil of expectation.

Crossing the room quickly to the table by the window, Kendyll Andrews ported her purse and satchel with the 
rhythm and sway of expectant good news. She maneuvered between tables and behind waiters, never disturbing 
patrons or servers. Kendyll was tall, thin, and healthy in the way that tall, well-shaped women are slender and fit. 
With toned biceps from the gym, her chocolate brown hair was cut at the shoulder and swayed around her 
intelligent and markedly beautiful face, forming a halo of grace, brushing her neck and shoulders like a camel 
hairbrush on canvas.

Like all women in her early 30’s, Kendyll was expert at the natural deception of beauty and style employed to 
confuse interested men and female competitors. All eyes focused as she crossed the floor with great long strides, twice 
tossing her hair, then removing her tortoise shell glasses while lowering her head with deference to kiss her mother 
quickly on the cheek. With that kiss, curiosity was satisfied and the room’s envious guests angled their silverware 
down again, like choreographed weather vanes pointing the direction of the changing wind, swiveling their knives 
from their upward pause to the declination of redressing the holy trinity of capers, sauce, and fresh ground pepper. 
The room returned to lunch, but with the shifting wind at their backs, mother and daughter sensed the gathering 
storm. Flanked by sheer white curtains and heavy royal red drapes, the two women sat quietly for a moment while 
a waiter made his way briskly across the room.

Kendyll learned well from her mother how to stage manage the female theater of attraction. She understood her 
beauty was certain, and temporary. Already haunted by the encroaching whispers of age around her brown eyes, 
she was now 32, and in a new relationship that promised refuge from the winds of time blowing landward from off 
shore. But her family relationships were strained. Her mother was dissatisfied with her progress. After college and 
graduate school, she was single, living two thousand miles away, and out of her mother’s control. Kendyll had 
called her mother from Los Angeles requesting an audience, telling her she would arrange “a half day in San 
Francisco, on her way home to Chicago.” Phrasing her visit in such rushed and casual tones was a statement of 
independence more than reunion. Stacey Andrews, the matriarch and holy mother virgin of the vestibule, was not 
pleased with her daughter’s pretended authority – although she graciously accepted her daughter’s request of an 

The waiter approached the two ensconced women with halting respect, menus in hand, first directing his attention 
to the older woman – whom he understood well. Standing strategically with the sun at his back, pouring light 
directly through the white curtain sheers behind him, he began to offer menus when Stacey, her eyes closed to avoid 
the bright sun light, ordered abruptly.

“Fillet of sole with butter and lemon,” then looking at Kendyll with the blank expression of expectancy, “and my 
daughter will have?”

“Samuel, how are you? It is so good to see you again.” Kendyll addressed the waiter she had known for many years 
with the friendly respect more appropriate for an elderly uncle at family event.

“Very good, Mrs., ah, Kendyll,” he paused for uncomfortable moment.

“It’s Andrews now. And I’m glad you are well.” Kendyll understood the confusion about her last name and 
accepted her part in clarifying the situation for others. “I’d like a spinach salad with a small amount of white meat 
chicken, and vinaigrette on the side.”

Samuel nodded with the dutiful resolve of a man experienced in serving difficult people. He was a professional in his 
own right – an indispensible part of the liturgy at St. Thomas.

Staking out conversational territory is a fine art. While argumentative positioning is a male war tactic, for women, it 
is a way of life. In the Andrews family, conversation meant one had information of importance, but releasing the 
desired news only to reward the listener’s patience. Stacey held her tongue through the meal until, on cue, Kendyll 
offered up the anticipated information. She had met a man in Chicago, the relationship was serious, and she had 
expectations of “a more permanent arrangement.” Kendyll explained he had inherited the family’s commercial 
plumbing distribution business, he was three years younger than Kendyll, and came from an Armenian family.

“And he served his mission, where?” Stacey interjected with a curious tone.

“He didn’t serve a mission, mother. He isn’t LDS. His family is Catholic.” Kendyll sat up in her chair, bracing for 
the storm clouds to blow the weather vane off the roof.

“Ladies, excuse me,” the waiter awkwardly interrupted the conversation. “I have the dessert cart. I’d like to 
recommend the berry pie,” Samuel showed the plate first to Stacey and then Kendyll. “It came out of the oven just 15 
minutes ago and it is still warm.”

Stacey nodded no. Kendyll leaned into the plate and inhaled deeply, “Oh, I could smell that from across the room. It 
looks wonderful, and messy.” Then sitting back in chair with a sense of disappointment, “But I can’t eat that. It 
must be a thousand calories. Thank you, Samuel, but not today.”

As the waiter pushed the cart away, Stacey returned immediately to the subject. “He’s Catholic and American – 
what does that mean?

“Armenian, mother, not American, but I mean, yes, he is American too,” Kendyll was beginning to stammer with 
the speech behaviors of a thirteen year old uncertain of her footing.

“A Chicago plumber?” The mother dropped her eyes with disappointment.

“Plumbing distributor, Mother. There’s a big difference.” Kendall exhaled with exasperation.

Stacy was already incensed. She and her daughter had already engaged the mode of conflict that defined their lives 
for thirty years. Kendyll braced for the question that was about to blow in like a gale from the sea, through the 
window at their backs, and wash over the lunch table like a tsunami.

Stacey pursed her lips, took a breath, and fixed Kendyll with her squinting green eyes. “He’s been married before?”

“No, he’s 29 and he’s never been married,” Kendyll answered while rearranging the folded napkin on her lap.

“And does he know you’ve already been married twice?” Stacey placed the dagger squarely on target and Kendyll 
deflated with defeat.

Kendyll was ready for the question, but no less undone when it came. First looking at the ceiling, then around the 
room, she saw Samuel waiting by the swinging kitchen door. Raising her hand to get his attention, he started 
across the room. Not waiting for him to make it all the way to the table, Kendyll raised her voice, “Samuel, I will 
have the berry pie. Could you bring a piece right away please.”

Reaching into her purse, Kendyll retrieved her glasses, refolded the napkin on her lap, and looked up at her mother, 
the holy marble virgin of St. Thomas, casting judgment from across the table. “Would you like some berry pie, 
Mother? It’s warm and looks really messy.” – Jim Eaton

Tangerines and notes by James Eaton

Open tangerines by antique blue and white pitcher - Oil on canvas board 8" X 6"

Still Life Animating Memoryby James Eaton

Interpreting art is dangerous business. So many personalities bruise so easily – fresh fruit, still life, and human 
ego have so much in common. Still, reviewing Southern California still life artist, Robin Anderson, is great fun 
and a risk worth taking. Knowing and reviewing gifted people is more amusing than possessing talent itself.

Accommodating change is the most difficult process humans endure; in our small, inner world, memory fades 
behind a veil of distorted vision. Ultimately, memory becomes happier, and sometimes more sad, than the actual 
moment. But the demands of time are dominant and memory will endure in its imperfect, partially hidden 
world, peeking out from behind the semi-translucent veil of moments past. Robin Anderson parts the veil to the 
unconscious and allows us a glimpse.

Artists have a sacred duty to bring veiled memories to light. The talented artist is the midwife that delivers us to 
the understanding we normally choose to ignore, but in wisdom, we finally embrace. A talented artist never 
performs this sacred task directly; the artist is grounded by indirect inference. The observer too, like the artist, 
must struggle for meaning or the baby will never be delivered. The artist’s technique is not the source of initial 
engagement – although that inspection comes later. A painting’s success is revealed by engaging the sense of 
humanity and memory, both present, and standing just the other side of gauzy veil.

Robin Anderson’s new paintings qualify as the midwife of change – indirect, veiled, possessed of joy and 
sadness, and almost present, if not for the small distance separating memory from the now. Robin is painting 
something far more significant than still life. Robin is representing a deeper aesthetic. Her current paintings 
incorporate a sense of the moment, of insight, and tear at time to let consciousness breath.

I am always aware of my male sensibility when judging art. When a man judges another man’s art, the process 
of aesthetic appraisal is much easier. But when a man judges a woman’s art, the process is much more complex; 
as with all gender communication, this is more a problem of exposition than insight. While I recognize the 
feminine intelligence of Robin’s hand and eye, I also recognize that she is expressing ideas universal to all 
humankind, independent of mere gender, and offering a more successful aesthetic available to both male and 
female sensibilities. This is the talent and the accomplishment of a gifted artist.

The two paintings above, “Tangerines” and “Geraniums” are new arrivals to Robin’s family. She has clearly 
made a dramatic effort to separate from her former studied technique of still life on a grand scale. It is less that 
these paintings are less grand and more that they are just so much more accessible. They are human, common, 
imperfect in form and frame. They are wounded by life, yet filled with all the human divinity that inspires life 
on a grand scale.

“Tangerines” is reminiscent of Robin’s recent “Figs” in design and presentation, yet reflective of the place citrus 
has in the well-lit palette of culinary sense and oil on canvas. The tangerines reflect the light in the room. They 
enable a reflection on the polished table. They do not brood. They are not guilty. And they have nothing to 
confess. The vase in the background is a classic piece, partially framed, and the image lifts. The tangerines are 
both whole and partially crushed. This is an important representation. The dichotomy of what is apparent and 
what exists on the inside is an important vision. More, the fact that what exists on the interior is partially 
crushed and oozing life is what catapults the meaning of the images to a higher level of philosophical and 
psychological drama.

“Geraniums” is also a very good painting, but for different reasons than “Tangerines”. It is beautiful and 
immediate, common, but also noble. It is pretty in the feminine sense, but commonly accessible to all. With 
“Geraniums”, the eye will naturally follow the image without being condemned for staring. The pedals are not 
studied. The stems follow a natural course, weighed down by life itself. The simple fruit jar holding the flowers 
distorts the image behind the veil of glass and water, causing memory, leaf, and plant stem to dissolve into a 
recognizable chaos. The painting affects me as does a still life by Manet painted over a century ago. For Robin to 
arrive at the same place as Manet is only the highest of achievements and makes me want more, very soon.

Of no less importance is the background for each painting. Figure is only known in context. Robin’s context 
offers a germane background that does not demand attention unless you choose it. This matter immediately 
takes me to technique. The brush is intense and lifting, swirling the eye behind the formal image. I like this 
technique as much as I like the painting’s subject. A bad context will ensure a bad painting – Robin sidesteps 
this problem very nicely.

Robin’s art is changing. That may be a source of its immediacy and risk. This is a moment in an artist’s history 
that is recognizable, vulnerable, and disappears as the norm becomes the established and the creative opening 
closes. This is the energy of Robin’s work that evokes the sense of memory and humanity lost in time, yet 
present in the chaos of present life. – Jim Eaton


Pat Austin, Jude and Happy Child Roses - Oil on Canvas 18" X 14"

Souvenir de la Malmaison roses with Mary Cassatt print - Oil on Canvas 18" X 14"

Geo's vase, Peach Roses with White Bower - Oil on Canvas 14" X 18"

Variety of Red Roses in Chrystal Vase - Oil on Canvas 14" X 18"

Pink and Orange Roses in Handmade Blue Ceramic Pitcher with Wallpaper - Oil on Canvas 14" X 18"

Margot's Painting - Oil on Canvas 20" X 16"

Kathryn - Oil on Canvas 20" X 16"

Camillia - Oil on Canvas on Board 9" X 12"

Ruby and Peppermint colors - Oil on Canvas 18" X 14"

Sherrie - Oil on Canvas 20" X 16"

Evelyn Roses with White Azaleas - Oil on Canvas 14" X 18"

Yellow Roses in Green Vase - Oil on Canvas 18" X 14"

Bouquet of Roses in flo Blue Floral Vase - Oil on Canvas 20" X 20"

Colorful Ranunculus in Blue Vase - Oil on Canvas 14" X 18"

Orange Pink and White Roses in Antique Chrystal Vase - Oil on Canvas 18" X 14"

Open Rose with White Ranunculus in handmade Pitcher - Oil on Canvas 14" X 18"

Pink and White Rose in Flo Blue Pitcher - Oil on Canvas 18" X 14"

Peach Roses - Oil on Canvas 20" X 16"

Yellow Roses - Oil on Canvas 14" X 18"

Red Dahlias with Pink Roses - Oil on Canvas 14" X 18"

Blue pot with orange and white roses  - Oil on Canvas 16" X 13"
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