Bobbi Baldwin is a versatile painter who works mostly in oil, soft pastel, and bronze. Her plein air paintings are both figurative and expressive, while her portrait and still life work are completely lifelike in a romantic realism. The portraits are meticulously created with the clear and deep feeling of life exuding from every detail and stroke. The paintings reminiscent of Renoir or Sargent are both vibrant and strong in color and composition.
Bobbi is originally from southern California, where her parents were born and raised, her father a computer engineer from the early days of computing. During her early years the family moved to 7 states and then settled in the Sacramento region of northern California. The influence of the world through travel started in those early days as she visited nearly every state in the US, later to see many other countries and cultures. Although her childhood was abusive, it gave her the ability to look at life through eyes that were wise with great depth of thinking concerning how every aspect of life fits together. It gave her a passionate appreciation for the beautiful moments individuals often forget to stop and see, furthermore the larger picture that each unique character brings to this world.
With great epiphanies of awareness, collectors become enthralled with her technical insights to create with two different methods ranging from the layering of an under painted, grisaille & bistre (dating back to Renaissance painters) and the method of painting directly on canvas pushing the strength of brilliant, beautiful color. Progression towards illuminating vibrancy in color has been a drive in Bobbi’s work as well as creating a feeling of motion and movement. The depth and brilliant colors are achieved through layering, glazes of thick painting medium added throughout the process, encasing the pigments, and creating a three-dimensional illusion. This method causes the light to travel through the layers to the surface below, bounce off the white primer, and then refract against the encased pigments, producing a strong lifelike shape. It is impossible to see in photos this gorgeous effect in photos.
Bobbi’s paintings of horses, people, and still lives come from a deeply felt reverence that Bobbi has with her subjects. She feels subjects on a level which she is capable of sharing. With her portraits, you will become mesmerized by the eloquence, in love with every element, and intimate with the subject from the deep sense of reality seen in the eyes and features. Her strengths are in her masterful brush strokes, knowledge of color theory, and sensational composition. Her portraits will take your breath away; you truly feel like the subject is with you as well as leaving you with a peaceful feeling.
Drawing upon her 33 years of experience in commission portraits as well as over 30 years of teaching, Bobbi is capable of making her subjects look and feel as if they will turn at any moment and speak to you. Her ability to capture the true nature of a character is unmatched.
Who is artist BOBBI BALDWIN?
At what point do the events of a hurtful beginning turn an artist’s life into a beautiful story?
Horses running free in excitingly colorful fields, portraits of happy children, a still life which provokes a great curiosity– these are a few of Bobbi’s subjects which bring joy to even the gloomiest viewers. Each painting creates a sense of peacefulness and serenity and yet the colors are striking and exciting. Looking over painter Bobbi Baldwin’s latest pieces tells a great deal about the passionate artist’s life and what led the direction of her masterful paintings.
Bobbi Baldwin’s personal journey as an artist began in her childhood. Born in Los Angeles, she soon moved around with her father (a computer engineer long before computers were small enough to put on a desk) and family of six through Colorado, New York, New Jersey, Florida, & Connecticut. She began seeing the world at this young age and is reported to have seen all but 4 states by the time she was 7, settling back in northern California.
“Although I am a second generation Californian, I am a first generation artist,” Bobbi states. As she recalls her life she says, “We were a beautiful family, church going. Mom handmade beautiful clothes for all of us, but there were secrets that made life very hard. It’s through this hardship that I became so interested in people; in part for the sake of survival, and in another part for the sake of seeking out beautifully spirited good people whom I could trust. We lived on a small lot with many animals. My dogs, cats, rabbits, ducks, chickens, horses, and cows all became an outlet to my life … a safe place to find love.” Bobbi began drawing people’s features as early as the age of nine. She began to immerse her thoughts in learning how things were drawn. She recalls the first time she drew, and her mother accusing her of tracing. But, when the family realized what she could do, they began to give her art supplies. She began taking all the elective art classes she could in grades 8-12 and then on into college.
At the age of 24, Bobbi began drawing portraits of people and animals, with a long waiting list from the start. She took a class on oil painting portraits and began teaching the class a year later after giving birth to her only son, Gary, during this time. Her passion for understanding how to paint in oil became immersed in renaissance painting through museums, books, and historical study. Bobbi embraced the technique of bold compositions and strong colors she was able to achieve with the method of layer over layer of glazed color. Glazing techniques became the strong point and focus of her work from the start.
With the desire to master her craft and take her paintings to the highest level, she started going back east to portrait seminars that boasted worldwide talent and the best of the best in the field. In the process she learned from Richard Schmid, Nelson Shanks, Everett Raymond Kinstler, Daniel Greene, William Draper, Thomas Nash, Igor Babailov, John Howard Sanden, Jacob Collins, David Kassan, David Leffel, Judith Carducci, Sherrie McGraw, Michael Shane Neal, Richard Whitney, Michael Del Priore, and many more.
Bobbi went on to study alongside other masters at the Studio Incamminati in Philadelphia and at the LAAFA (Los Angeles Academy of Figure Art) with David Simmons, where she took her knowledge of portraying living creatures to another level through sculpting. In her gentle matter of fact style and humble manner, she says, “I don’t see myself as a sculptor but as an artist who wants to understand everything in its fullest degree. I see my subjects three-dimensionally, in my head, and doing this just furthers my knowledge of painting.”
Movement is exciting to the viewer and life in motion is Bobbi’s goal, whether it is movement in the eyes, body, or gestures from everyday experiences. Her scenes have been compared to Renoir, Degas and Sargent. “We are all in this world experiencing life and it passes us by, often too fast,” she observes. “There are so many bad things on the news, and in the day to day happenings of life. I guess because I had such a bad childhood and survived what I did, I just want to share what I see in life as beautiful.” And so her focus on the movement of horses became an element of that insight. Horses have always been a strong love for Bobbi, having learned English riding lessons as a child. Her youngest brother shared her love, and with his passing this last year from cancer, Bobbi has renewed her passion to capture the immense strength and beauty they possess. Their sheer power, intelligence, personality, and mysterious manners drive her to want to understand increasingly more about the subject. Her focus has taken her to horse tracks to study racehorses, polo fields, and dressage events which forever further and adjusting her theories of painted action.
Through the years of being such a successful portrait painter, the Artist has painted people and animals in all situations. The symbolism of objects, like a special heirloom, treasured gift, or intimate object are all part of this painting. “The more we add, the more my clients feel like they are really part of the painting,” she states. She found the intimacy of the objects that a person chooses to put into a painting (their most beloved … children, dogs, horses, & objects) all have that sense of personality that is expressed with delightful character in her work. She feels this on such a deep level that you become intimate with the subject through her expressive ability to portray their character. She has always had a great list of clients from NBA stars, Bank CEO’s to Tribal Elders and those who don’t desire fame but embrace others with such deep respect, love and affection therefore choosing the more closely known person, for their collections, as well as horses.
In the mid-90s, Bobbi was asked to travel to Russia to show her work, paint, and learn from the Russian masters not seen in America yet. The work of Ilya Repin and Ivan Kramskoy made a huge impact on her work. The massive sizes and masterful color and composition of their work became part of hers. Her level of expertise rose with every painting as she worked in larger sizes and with stronger knowledge of the world in motion. Yet, even in still life subjects (as part of a painting or alone) there is still a story to be told. Her subjects suggest interplay between the imagination and the events that caused the objects to be gathered together in her scenes. She saw this in the work of the Russian masters as well as in the work of so many American Masters.
During this time, Bobbi had many experiences with the expansive world that opened up to her. Her travels took her throughout the world in the following decades. She saw the people of many nations, small and large, and experienced life as they know it. She was struck by the idea that we are all so alike in our need for the simplest things, even when politics and religion are so separated. Her own special view of life through her experiences made her understand far more than the common eye could see. Every beautiful brush stroke in her paintings gives life to the beauty she weaves and presents before us, showing us there is an escape from the pain in the world. Bobbi’s gallant use of color and strong compositional elements reflect the intense beauty she sees in this vast world of endless subjects. Many times she was asked, “Why don’t you paint about your horrible experiences in life?” and she wasn’t able to complete a single painting due to losing interest. Instead, those paintings became a beautiful scene that portrayed the little things that people forget to stop and look at, the moments that are passed over by most people. Yet when she paints them for us, we are taken back by the beauty she finds in the simplest things. The action of a young girl with her horse, children playing at a piano, time out in a chair, the objects thrown into a pile on the table. It’s through her eyes we have the opportunity to open a window and see for a while her precious view of what life does have to offer.
From the mid-90s to the early 2000s Bobbi owned her own galleries, bringing in other artists and teaching them what she knew not only about painting, but also about what it took to make it as an artist in the big picture of life.
In 1996, a woman walked into Bobbi’s studio and began talking to her. The woman wore unmatched clothing and was an understated elderly Chinese lady of short stature. As Bobbi gained her respect and friendship, it was revealed that she had created great wax museums in her day. She became one of the many teachers Bobbi had over the years. “Her love of color was so incredibly mesmerizing that it felt contagious … and I caught it!” Bobbi exclaimed in her excitably enchanting voice resonating with musical tones. “I fell in love with color and there was no turning back.” Her work then transitioned from the dark renaissance style into colorful musical arrangements of vibrant composition.
Life became very busy for the artist in the mid-2000s and studio work became her focus as she traveled to Bali, Italy, and back to Russia. She no longer owned the galleries but devoted her work to gallery work and the portrait commissions she received. Returning back to her home town in the Sacramento suburbs, she became more of a tourist in the life around her. Her focus became crystalized and she worked with passion towards her goal of conceptually understanding the relationship between human and creature. The excitement she wanted to bring to her work became an integral part of her focus. She now saw the beauty of California with new eyes and in a different light. She had never seen her home town like this – the seasons so illuminated, the spring glorious with color, the summers so yellow, the fall so warming, the beautiful winter, the mountains, the ocean, the grape-yielding valleys and hills, and the people and animals … her mind was filled with ideas that became her paintings … those peaceful open rolling hills, with overcast and sunny scenes behind her subjects … telling us what they think without using words.
Bobbi continued to teach and was invited to do so through the Crocker Art Museum, as well as for many other schools and private workshops. She had to limit her classes to make sure her studio work remained the focus. “The students’ hunger feeds my desire to create,” she radiates. Her ability to share her vision verbally is a gifted skill and if you engage her in talk, she will endlessly mesmerize you with her knowledge of the technical aspects of painting and the stories of the masters, as well as how art emotionally involves the soul – taking you into a place where you feel as though you are passionately evoking the very ideas of your own soul. Her knowledge is endless as is her passion for all things living.
She admits: “I love psychology. When I look into any being’s eyes, I feel them on a level I can’t explain. In that moment, I am mesmerized by their whole. I want to drink up their mind, emotions, sentiments, moods, and every story there is to tell about them and go to the canvas to pour it out in colors, paint strokes, and all the possible ways I can express it. I want to share with you the insights I have into their being; to show you the beautiful things I see in their lives. … It’s like falling in love.” She laughs, slightly embarrassed by the thought. “I guess I do fall in love with my subjects - one by one. As I get to the heart of their stories I feel like I am part of them … or I am in their story … I feel their emotions and I want to capture that intensity that I feel in their eyes. Eyes are my favorite part of a painting; the entry to the soul.” She concludes, “Even when I am painting a still life, I am still painting a living person and the moment they feel, including the objects that tell of someone’s story.”
When asked, collectors unanimously state their initial attraction to Bobbi’s work is due to their appreciation for her high level of accuracy in realism, equally in body structure and capturing the character. They also add that the feeling of the presence of the subject is a very strong dynamic; “it feels like they are alive”. “You can tell that she deeply cares to capture the essence of a person, especially the eyes, gateway to the soul”. Many respond to this question with more technical responses as well, such as the use of beautiful color, her ability to work with clients to create the perfect paintings for their collection. “She is a delight to work with” and loved by all. Her charismatic personality is a great addition to the fact that she is incredibly gifted. What makes her unique is this truly pure approach to the beauty in the world. Through her eyes, every subject has a beauty.
Bobbi generously supports several charitable organizations, such as WEAVE (Women Escaping a Violent Environment), CAP (Child Abuse Prevention center), and Neigh Saver’s Foundation (Race horse rescue, rehabilitation).
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