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Robert Tomlinson: Darkroom Drawings  

September 6 to October 22, 2005
Gallery reception for the artist: Saturday, September 17 2005, 6 to 8pm

Click on the images on the right and below to enlarge them >>
These photos are available for sale, matted and framed.

Artist's Statement

Many years ago I began taking my own photographs with the intention of capturing something specific that I say -- mostly unintentional or anonymous markings -- found on sidewalks or the backs of trucks, etc.   I kept these images as reference material; visual reminders acting as a source of inspiration on a way to structure a future drawing or painting. They served as a kind of personal challenge that I gave myself to believe that creating from anything was possible and that I didn't have to maintain a formulated approach for what I was doing just for the security of operating from what was familiar.

Gradually I began to take the photographic process more seriously. I started to wonder how a photography was made; how it came to life in the darkroom and if I could use that process to construct photographic images in the same way that I use a layered approach to making a mixed media drawing. I wanted to continue to use my vocabulary of biomorphic shapes and not be dependent on the power of one initial image.

I became enchanted with altering the images as they were being developed. This allowed for many "happy accidents" that always give ma a thrill! As with my drawings, I tend to work thematically. All of the images presented here are one-of-a-kind, although each has a larger family to which it belongs.

Robert Tomlinson
September 2005

More about Robert Tomlinson

Robert Tomlinson loves to draw, always has. He received high praises for his unusual and colorful drawings of the California Missions from his favorite teacher in the third and fourth grades (until she ran off to marry a Swiss millionaire.) Like many of his generation, he ran down the wayward path of music as a teenager. This thrill lasted until it was time to perform in public (which he does not like.) His love of music did, however, open the doors to a deeper appreciation of poetry, which he spent considerable time writing in the back of buses on his way to his first real job at a Truck & Auto service station. To this day, he usually has a book of poems by his side.

At sixteen a classmate took him to an artist's studio for the first time. The smell, the light, the open ended possibilities really got him. The artist loaned Robert his first art book (on the life of Henry Moore.) His only art
class was during on summer in a barn in Tesuque, New Mexico, drawing


from live models. His heavy drinking and smoking teacher, Geraldine, said he had promise and should consider sculpture. The joy of working privately in a studio (and never having to practice the same this twice) marked him for life.

In 1981 he moved to the Bay Area, leaving music and committing himself to a life of drawing (and making odd shaped paintings -- most of which have been thrown out). Like many artists, he has been a tired waiter and an enthusiastic teacher. A long time ago he was the director and curator for the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art and, later, the curator for the Richmond Art Center.

For the past few years he has been designing things, drawing, creating a small garden, raising his beloved son and playing in the darkroom -- some of the results which you can see here at his first solo photography show at the Photolab Gallery.

Mr. Tomlinson has studied the works of many artists, from Vermeer to Tapies, but has received equal inspiration from the backs of trucks and things lying on the ground. He professes not to have a favorite color.

Contact Robert Tomlinson
(510) 898-1422


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