Robin Denevan

Robin Denevan

Artist Statement

My work is about process with an emphasis on the organic properties of the materials I use and how they mimic nature and landscape. I do not render a landscape as much as I allow the materials to naturally create one. I never work from photographs. I feel strongly about generating images that are personal to me and want to capture the immediacy of the landscape in my drawings. My sketches are mostly done on the move, in a boat, on a plane, or while hiking. It would certainly be easier to paint from photos but I would lose the movement, spontaneity and emotion integral to drawing. I have been been working with encaustic for 20 years.

My process begins with drawings of the exotic landscapes I’ve visited which are the source material for my paintings once I’ve returned home to my studio in San Francisco. My daily walks with my dog have been a surprising influence on my work. Deltas, rivers and lagoons have always been my subjects, particularly areas inundated with water. Walking the trails along the San Francisco bay frequently has motivated me to draw the coastline and surrounding foliage. How the landscape changes with the tides and the weather has been my primary interest.

The paintings are on canvas stretched over a wood panel, which provides a rigid and porous surface. I melt resin and beeswax together and apply it with a brush. My paintings have many layers of wax, resin, shellac and oil paint. I continually add materials and then remove them with a torch, solvent, sandpaper, and a variety of sharp tools. Using translucent layers allows the viewer into the history and process of the paintings. The finished work is both luminescent and beautifully textured.

The aluminum series developed from the same approach. I began to notice the buildup of residue on the inside of the buckets I use to wash my brushes. The patinas of paint created a beautiful gradation of color and texture. Concurrent with these observations were my walks along the inlets of San Francisco Bay. My painting studio rests on the shores of India Basin. The low tides create patterns of kelp, and earth that blend into the tranquil waters.
I use aluminum and steel sheets so that I can work on a smooth and consistent surface. The sheets are sanded, sometimes primed and submerged in several gallons of mineral spirits. I pour oil paint into the solution and mix it until it is cloudy. Over the period of several days the particles of oil color precipitate and leave sediment on the aluminum. After the oil has completely separated from the mineral spirits I repeat the process with another color. I will sometimes sand or manipulate the surface after the bath. The painting is sealed with a protective finish and mounted on a wood substrate.


Robin Denevan studied art at a very young age growing up in San Jose, CA. He studied at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland where he received his BFA with distinction in 1997. At the age of 25, Robin quit a rewarding teaching career to paint full time. In the fifteen years that have followed, Robin has exhibited throughout the U.S. and internationally. His works can be found in private collections and corporate offices. His exhibitions have been reviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Examiner and The Chicago Tribune. Robin lives and works in San Francisco, CA.