Artist and Teacher Robin Serr takes time to discuss one of her favorite contemporary artists as well as share some insight into making your art work for you!
"Ever since I can remember, I've loved the process of making and sharing my artwork, giving them as gifts, and enjoying small victories in personal growth."
Like so many children, Robin discovered her love for creating art early in life. Like so many adults, she wasn’t sure how this passion could ever be channeled into a career.
"I entered college as an English major because I was told you couldn't support yourself financially as an artist. But English wasn't my love, and my motivation to work fizzled out quickly. I changed and became a studio art major."
Back in the studio learning techniques and developing her craft, she was exactly where she wanted to be, but she still had questions about how to transform her passion into a professional endeavor.
"It's my personal opinion that to succeed as a studio artist you need to have an entrepreneurial bug or you feel that you have something deeply important to say. When I came to that personal conclusion, I chose to change majors again. I found my true calling in art education. As an art educator, I get to make art to grow personally and to help others grow."
She is trained in multiple mediums including drawing, painting, printmaking, ceramics, and metalworking. As the advanced ceramics teacher at LCHS, she has the opportunity to impart her knowledge, experience, and art philosophies to a new generation of students exploring the power of art in a relaxed, supportive environment.
"Within advanced ceramics, I teach a very wide variety of techniques and skills. We hand-build with clay to create sculptural and geometric artworks, we use the wheel to 'throw' clay into functional dinnerware and vase forms, and we use an equally wide variety of techniques to draw, paint, and carve on the clay surface."
She advises students to notice and appreciate each other’s work as well as the work of experienced, professional artists. Ms. Serr admires the work and follows the career of another artist who works with many of the same media.
"Geninne Zlatkis is one of my favorite working artists. She shares my love for a graceful line and happens to work in my favorite media (ceramics, watercolor paint, relief printmaking). I really admire her harmony of control and surrender. She has such mastery in each medium that it allows her to explore the subtle balance between skilled precision and the wonderfully capricious nature of the materials."
By appreciating and studying the mastery presented in another artist’s work, Ms. Serr challenges herself to continuously improve and refine her own abilities.
"Geninne Zlatkis inspires me to continually require a higher level of precision and control from myself. Her work has such a distinct personal aesthetic. It's highly illustrative, line-based, and composed of south-western flora and fauna. The qualities I admire in Geninne's work are broad and so they're clearly demonstrated in every work she creates. Every Painting, ceramic work, and print is a great example of her mastery of skill and balance, and a great example of her personal style. To view her work, I recommend following her on Instagram (@geninne). She posts her finished and in-progress artworks very regularly."
Geninne Zlatkis’ consistent implementation of these qualities serves as a personalized stamp of each of her pieces.
"You can quickly identify a work by Geninne regardless of what media she's chosen to work with. I've love for my work to have such a distinct personal style."
There is plenty to learn from this contemporary artist, and Ms. Serr has introduced much of it to her class, especially since it’s not only important to teach the techniques of great artists of the past but also to share the skills and success of artists of the present.
(The above photos are some of Ms. Serr's own watercolor goache paintings, that demonstrate many of the principles of control, harmony, and color she is discussing.)
"Geninne's ceramics focus very heavily on surface design. She uses stains, slips, underglazes, and sgraffito. These techniques are ideal for achieving a detailed drawing or painting on a clay surface. I've introduced these surface decoration techniques to my advanced class, and I require them to use them on their own artworks. It's likely to see a student or two using a technique on any workday."
(Pictured here is a ceramic vase Ms. Serr is currently creating with colors and texture often used in southwestern art and featuring detailed drawings all around the clay's surface. Next, she will fire the piece in the kiln and finish with glaze.)
Finding the time to create is easier than you might think. With just a spare minute, some paper, and a pencil, you can be on your way to making something great, without even realizing it. An activity you do to unwind or fill some time could lead to something special. Art also affords you the opportunity to adapt when you don’t get the results you expect or when you want to go in a different direction. Artists don’t worry so much about everything happening perfectly, because they know the process will lead them to a unique place.
"I'm a doodler. I love to draw and I just can't stop. I was (and continued to be through college) that kid who had drawings in the border of every worksheet and page of notes. I enjoy how genuine and unpretentious a doodle is. I usually find inspiration in my doodles. From the doodle, I develop a more thoughtful and refined artwork. I also love to take direction from the medium itself, that's why I love ceramics and watercolor so much. Both ceramics and watercolor have a tendency to give you unexpected results, and require you to react and change course mid-way through. Erasing is not always an option, and it can lead to very beautiful artworks!"
Whether your molding clay or sketching something that caught your eye, explore the potential in everything you do. If you’re interested in taking an art class, Ms. Serr is happy to answer questions and hlep you explore the possibilities!