Clear Reflective State: A gift of peace from artist, Robena


If she possessed a super-power, she would like to be able to touch people and have them receive a moment of tranquility.

As a mere mortal, this is what Robena also wishes for as she makes her art: that it bestows upon her viewers a moment of peace.

Clear Reflective State by Robena“Clear Reflective State” was chosen by the Art Maui Board of Directors as the publicity image for Art Maui 2014. Robena was delighted and honored to have her piece chosen. She said that viewers have commented that it’s peaceful and calm. She reasons that the palette of blues and greens, along with the reflections of light and illusions of water, create a restful place.

She wanted to do something that was historically interesting for Art Maui 2013. She loves it when elders are reminded of when they were kids by the old soda and milk bottles from across the state. “The raised lettering has a quality that allows light to bounce through it, creating a contemplative state,” she says, “and the glass allows light to flow through it and reflect its surroundings.”

Robena likes being involved in the entire process of her works. First she has an idea of what she wants to create; she’s been enjoying the antique bottles for the past 5 or 6 years. Next she sets up a still life, and “geeks out” photographing the scene. After several shots, she examines, chooses, and edits on the computer, till she sees one that gives her “the juice”, and will translate well on a large scale. Then she builds a frame and stretches the canvas specifically for the piece. It is only after all of that that she sketches it out and starts her painting.

She works in acrylic with a limited palette of cyan, magenta and yellow. She says these hues are part of the “grammar of painting” – something she learned from her dear teacher Dick Nelson, well known and well loved in the art world on Maui – and something she would like to pass on to any aspiring artist. This tri-hue palette has made her work so much simpler as an artist, and has the added advantage of affordability “since most artists are starving artists anyway,” she interjects with a wry smile.

AM-Robena-1R“Children, especially before 3rd grade, are some of the most amazing artists there are,” and she would like to see more encouragement and opportunities for art among children. To discover, as a child, that she could actually paint what she saw blew her mind, and was a huge building block in her life’s journey. She thinks art is “one of the best therapies.” If she is troubled she can “go there and be sure of finding a place of peace and tranquility.”

Robena loves to work on large paintings, her largest being an installation in Texas: 26 feet by 15 feet! So this painting, “Clear Reflective State”, measuring 73 inches high by 67 inches wide, though quite substantial in size, is comparatively small. “Large images have an impact like architectural buildings have – a way of stopping someone, and making them take notice – and in that moment of pause the viewer has a chance for introspection, a moment of peace.” This thread of peace is woven throughout her intention for her life and in her artwork, and she thinks that a tranquil environment is one of the most important things to have.

In January she accepted an invitation from the Four Seasons Resort in Wailea to be in their Artists’ Showcase program from 8am to 1pm on Saturdays, and paints the rest of the time.

Success, to Robena, is being able to do what you love to do. Congratulations, Robena, on your success! And may you continue to Peace Out on a large scale!

~ By Donna Chameleon Stafford, 2013

Robena was interviewed on Hawaii Public Radio in mid-December, 2013. You can listen to Robena’s interview on Hawaii Conversations here.

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