Marin Artist Rob Nye Transforms Visual Disability Into Paintings of Extraordinary Depth and Perception

Artist Rob Nye's work will be on display at the San Anselmo Log Cabin beginning May 3.

Diana & the Stag by Rob Nye
Diana & the Stag by Rob Nye
The following was originally submitted for publication by Erma Murphy on her Mill Valley Patch blog here.

Extractionist Painter Rob Nye, is one of roughly 260 fine artists participating in this year’s Marin Open Studios during the weekends of May 4th & 5th, and May 11th & 12th. Interestingly though, with Nye’s work, county residents will have the opportunity to see what may be one of the more unique creative processes in today’s artistic arena.  

Rob’s technique, which he calls Extractionist Painting®, is a remarkable dual process of seeing  things, which others rarely perceive, in tiny, found objects, and then using his personal vision to create large scale landscapes, portraits, and contemporary abstract canvasses of crystalline color and intensity. Nye’s process incorporates a layering of various mediums that don’t naturally adhere or blend with one another. The result is art that at one glance is completely “other-worldly”, and yet again, entirely familiar.

In a very real sense, Rob started his creative career when he was eight years old.  Because he suffered from a severe form of Dyslexia (or “Lysdexia” as he likes to call it) during his early school years, Rob was unable to read or learn as other children did. “It wasn’t that I just switched letters and mixed up numbers; it was a lot more than that,” he states. “I saw shapes and objects in distorted ways. When others saw a glass of water, I saw images WITHIN the water and as part of the glass. I suffered a lot because I couldn’t see things exactly like others did. I thought I was a complete dummy compared to my friends.”

In order to help her son overcome his immense frustration and arrest his plummeting grades and self-esteem, Rob’s mother steered him toward the visual arts and encouraged him to draw and create things with his hands. “Make what you DO see”, she’d say — “Don’t be afraid of things others don’t see, Rob… create them!” Once, when he failed at writing a book report about the Wizard of Oz, she encouraged him to create a soup-can model of the Tin Man, and take that to school instead. As a result, Rob began to enjoy seeing the world the way he saw it, and most importantly, to feel he had something unique to offer the world.

“My technique grew right out of the problem I had as a child,” he says.  “Because it was so terribly hard for me to see things the way other people saw them, I was forced into the habit of peering deeply and intently at everyday objects.  I ended up seeing latent images that other people didn’t or couldn’t see.  When I look at a piece of marble, the bark of a tree, or a shard of rusty metal, I see shapes: human, animal, sometimes a landscape or a verdant, flower-filled field. These seemingly obscure “images” become the subjects of my work.”

Over time Rob turned his one-time adversity into his own unique artistic process.  While studying art at USC and L.A. Art Center he developed hand-eye skills by working in the darkroom, and an appreciation for the reversing techniques of intaglio etching. His early mastery of glazing and juxtaposing primary colors afforded him the accolades of his professors and, later the public-at-large. 

The basis of one of the paintings Rob will have on display during Open Studios was inspired by calcified chlorine stains on the side of a stainless steel hot tub atop the roof of a Denver hotel. “Across the tub’s mottled and stained edge my eyes saw, like a photograph, a sinking battleship — it brought to mind the battleship “Arizona” in Pearl Harbor, violently exploding as the bombs bore into her on December 7th, 1941.  This has become one of my favorite recent paintings.  It’s filled with hues of dark blue, purple, and rose, as

well as an array of pale ethereal shapes that seem to float upward into the heavens.  I see them as the countless souls of the men who died in those horrid moments of attack and calamity — souls ascending into the heavens.  I call the piece “Heartbreak Harbor”.

Rob has now mostly overcome his early learning disabilities, though the visual aspects still linger and manifest themselves in his work. His art is offered through galleries in Woodstock, VT, Louisville, KY, and Palm Desert, CA. Some of his most dramatic paintings will be exhibited in conjunction with Marin Open Studios at the Log Cabin in San Anselmo May 3 & 4, and the following weekend of May 10 & 11.  For a more detailed explanation of his technique, visual discipline, and samples of his work, go to:www.robnyepaintings.com.


__________ • _________

EVENT:                    Paintings of Rob Nye & 2014 Marin Open Studios

DATES:                    Saturday & Sunday: May 3rd , 4th  & 10th  11th, 2014

LOCATION:             San Anselmo Log Cabin • 20 Veterans Place

San Anselmo, CA 94960


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