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Robyn Come Lately

I am occasionally asked how I got started painting with cold wax and oil, and I presume the person asking thinks I switched from some other medium, like I have been an artist for a long, long time. My answer is always some kind of juggling act, trying to explain the appeal of cold wax and talking about my time spent as an assemblage artist and throwing in a ball about being a graphic designer for years. To tell people I have only been painting a few years feeds too strongly into my fear of being found out as a fraud.

The truth is, I came into this world of painting later in life. I do not have an art degree, I did not study under some well-known artist, and I have not amassed gallery credits.

Looking back on my adult life (I am 59 as of this writing), I have come into things later than many. While I married young and had my two children before I turned 30, most other things came along later.

As a teenager, band was my favorite subject in school and the thing I spent the most time on. For five years, I played trumpet because my mother made me, but as a junior in high school, I switched to French horn and never looked back. Well, not until I graduated and had to give my instrument back to the school and did not play again for decades.

When I was in my late 30s, my husband gave me a horn for my birthday, and I spent the next twenty years of my life consumed with playing it. I took lessons, wearing out two teachers, played in a community band, and joined a local orchestra that had room for an amateur player. And it was my life. I believe it was my life because I had so much catching up to do, although you can't really catch up with that sort of thing.

At some point in my early 50s, I found myself with free time and began piecing together odds and ends into an old wooden box, inspired by a piece I had seen in an interior design store near Cleveland, Ohio. I kept at it, this odd business of assembling junk into boxes, until I developed a style and a small following, and I turned my interest in found-object assemblage into an Etsy business and an art-fair side track.

For no apparent reason, that switch turned off at some point, and I found I could not glue one more flea-market find into one more old box, and I picked up a paint brush instead. Then I picked up a palette knife. Then I discovered encaustic art, which was not for me. Then I discovered cold wax and oil. This is for me.

Later than many who are artists, I began reading everything I could get my hands on about this stuff, and I took online classes and watched videos and more videos and experimented and painted and painted and painted and...... you get the idea.

How did I get started as an artist, you ask? I recognized that simply by being curious in general, I looked around me, discovered interesting pathways to expression, and took action to claim those pathways as my own. I can't catch up with people who started younger or who have more experience. I can claim my space in this world, though. And for now, painting in this medium is how I do that.

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