“I am motivated by how I feel, what I see and hear,” Ramon Robledo
Walking into Ramon Robledo’s art gallery is like walking into a kaleidoscope. His larger than life canvases are awash in bold colors that draw you in, as if you have fallen into them not wanting you to leave.
Ramon Robledo, and his spouse Peter Prorok, own “A Stage in Time” antique and art gallery in Lambertville, NJ. Together for over 40 years, Robledo credits his spouse Peter for being his daily inspiration.
Robledo said as far as he could remember as a child he always drew. Whether it was a crayon, or chalk or a pencil, he always had something in his hand. He said his best memory was opening a box of new Crayola crayons in second or third grade. He is the only artist in his family, but now his nephew has taken up painting.
When Robledo was a pre-teen in Brooklyn, NY, where he grew up, a neighbor gave him a set of oil colors one Christmas. This started his fascination with oils. By the time he was 17 or 18 years old, he had already sold a few of his paintings.
Robledo went to the Fashion Institute in New York. It was there that he discovered fashion wasn’t his thing. He remembered his drawing class with live models. The model was sitting on a motorcycle and he drew the tires. His instructor gave him the freedom to draw what he wanted, and to express his creativity. Later, he attended the School of Visual Arts where the photography class was great. It taught him to look at things carefully and how shadows play an important role in composition.
A favorite artist is the American painter, Jackson Pollock
He wasn’t inspired by any particular artist when he was young. While growing up he loved cartoon art and was drawn to the colors on the comics page of the newspaper. He took the initiative then to study some famous artists. He loves Van Gogh for “the way he applies paint and color.” Another favorite artist is the American painter, Jackson Pollock.
Robledo’s favorite medium is oils. He loves the feel and the “vibrancy of it.” The versatility of applying oil with brushes, knives, and even sticks to create textures inspires him. With oils, he is able to mix colors. He has an idea of the shade he wants, thus creating the perfect combination. In one of his new paintings called “Roofs” which are the rooftops in Philadelphia, he applies a color and after it dries, adds another layer on top using knives, creating a textured effect.
Robledo, who is now painting with knives, said he also loves using a brush. Some of his canvases are very large. And they are getting larger and larger. He said a brush “gives him the freedom to express himself.”
Robledo starts with an idea and the painting takes on a form of its own
His inspiration for a painting comes from a myriad of places. It could be music, a conversation, or an incident in his daily life. Many times it will provoke an emotion that he tries to convey in his painting. Robledo starts with an idea and the painting takes on a form of its own. Later, when he stands back and looks, it may be nothing like he thought it would be.
Sometimes, the most basic thing will inspire a painting. Robledo told the story of spaghetti falling out of a box onto his kitchen counter. The yellow spaghetti on his blue counter was the basis for a painting. In his studio, there is a large bright yellow canvas with blue sticks called “RAK”. Robledo said “RAK” is named for Random Acts of Kindness, since all of the lines are intertwined. He wanted to show how everything, and everyone, is connected. He has been asked what his art style is, but he doesn’t want to be “pigeon holed” he said into one style. The common theme in his artwork is his expression of what he is feeling at that moment.
Robledo calls himself a “colorist” for his love of vibrant color. The most challenging thing for him is choosing a color. He doesn’t try to duplicate what he sees; he said he wants to duplicate the feeling that an image evokes. But his favorite color is yellow for its vibrancy and shine, “yellow makes you feel alive.” Large canvases of ballerinas, bands playing and tango dancers come to life in vivid shades of red, blue, and yellows. He said he does not painting to sell a piece, but to share a feeling. If a buyer shares the same feelings, it makes him very happy.
“A painting is never done… until that ah ha moment”
Robledo said he paints at different times of the day. His paintings called the “Music Series”, was done in the early morning. Another series called “Fevered Dreams” was painted late at night into the early morning.
A painting is never done he claims. He has to walk away from it for a while. Sometimes he will hang it on the wall for a few days. Then he will add something to it; maybe just a splash of color. There is that “ah ha” moment when he feels the painting is finished.
He loves when someone looks at a painting and expresses what they feel. In some ways it’s bittersweet though because he won’t be seeing it again. He hopes to inspire or awaken something in you, a memory or a feeling.
He talked about having a “favorite” piece and said it was akin to a parent having a favorite child. There are some paintings, which he keeps in a private collection because he has a certain attachment. While others, when they are purchased, are like seeing your grown children go off. For example, Robledo has a charcoal sketch of a boy on a swing that he drew in the 1970s. Over the years, people have offered to buy it, but he will never sell it. Robledo said a good friend of his tattooed the image on his chest.
Robledo sold a painting to an actor from California who was moved to tears when seeing a painting. The painting was of the backs of people’s heads watching fireworks from a patio. The actor said it reminded him of being on stage and seeing all the heads of people in an audience. The painting was called “Awe.”
Robledo talked about the art community in Lambertville, NJ. His experience is that the artists are each doing their own thing. The only time there is an interaction is when there is an opening at a gallery. He has bonded with some artists in town. Some have asked him about his technique. Robledo said artists can draw the same lines with the same medium, but each piece will evoke a different feeling. He wishes there would be a place where artists could get together and talk about their ideas.
Robledo’s advice to any “blooming artist,” is “do what you want to do. Express yourself and don’t let anyone tell you that this is not good.” Different schools of art will tell you that a perspective is wrong or the color is wrong, but your art has to stir a feeling within yourself. Robledo said,” I am of the opinion that you should know the rules—and then break them.”
In the fall, Robledo will be showing his art in “Naked in New Hope” at Side Tracks Art Gallery in New Hope, PA. This will be their twelfth and final show, his art has been in all of them. They were the first local gallery to showcase his art. Then on Oct. 20, 2018, Robert Wood Johnson Hospital will be doing a show at the Hyatt Regency in Princeton called “We vs. C”. Robledo has been selected as one of five artists to show his work during their black-tie gala. He plans to do another show in his Lambertville gallery later in the fall.
Robledo has also written a book called Evolution. In it he shows his new method of using oils. Robledo said he diluted oils until they became transparent and applied color on top of color with a knife. You can see the layers of color underneath. Some of his canvases are as large as 4 x 6 ft. His work “Freedom” was sold to a corporation in Princeton.
His paintings have abstract names he said so as not to influence what a person is seeing. He said a painting may be named “Energy” and the feeling is left to the viewer. He wants to the person looking at it to tell him what they are feeling. He joked, it is almost like a Rorschach test. Robledo’s art is inspiring and thought provoking, a gallery not to be missed when visiting Lambertville.