Although her family is from Pembrokeshire, Beth Robinson was brought up in Chepstow, Monmouthshire. She graduated in music from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and the Royal Academy of Music, before embarking upon a career in opera. Under the name Beth Michael she performed in opera in Britain and abroad. For many years she was a member of the Royal Opera, Covent Garden where she sang many roles and performed in concerts and recitals.
In the late 1990s, ill health forced Beth to retire from singing, and she and her husband Alan moved to Pembrokeshire.
The dramatic landscapes and seascapes of this magical and historical area inspired Beth to realise a lifetime’s ambition to paint. At an early age, she’d had to choose between music and art, and although she chose the world of music, she’d always had a yearning to portray in colour her love of the beautiful scenery of the British countryside, especially that of her ancestral Pembrokeshire.
Self-taught, her paintings are sometimes figurative, sometimes abstract; but they always give the viewer a sense of her emotional response to the scene before hre. Her first paintings were sold immediately, and now Beth’s paintings hang in many parts of the world. She has exhibited in solo and group shows, and a few years ago she was one of 100 artists across the UK invited to take part in the Discerning Eye/ING Platform100 exhibition in London and on tour.
When they moved to Pembrokeshire, Beth’s husband, Alan used his technical abilities to learn the art of picture framing and is now a successful bespoke picture framer, who has been asked to frame for many exhibitions.
In Beth’s words
Technique: As I’m self taught, I’m not sure what I SHOULD be doing, but basically, I just shove loads of paint on until it looks right. I tend to destroy brushes, as I’m very heavy handed with them, so like to use a palette knife and fingers. A damp cloth is also useful for blending or for removing paint. If I want to paint a scene, I spend a lot of time just observing light effects and what the colours the different times of day bring out.
I’ll take a photograph for the landmarks, and sometimes do a sketch in situ, then work in my studio. The photograph is printed out with low resolution or greyscale, and I put it aside once I have the picture blocked out on the canvas/paper. Then I start to move the paint around. This sometimes removes the landmarks I’ve blocked out; but if it looks ok, I’ll just go with it.
If you look at any view in sunshine, try nearly closing your eyes – you’ll sometimes see the refracted light through your eyelashes – it’s a reminder that our brains will filter the green of grass, for example, to be fairly uniform. But actually, if you really look, you can see blues, reds, yellows, purples, browns as well as loads of greens.
I love the impressionists – Manet, Monet , Degas , etc. etc. – basically all of the ones that create effects with light and colour, and I have to make a conscious decision not to look at too much Turner, in case I produce clones…. Another master of light is Andrew Wyeth. Where he lives, the light is very cold so colours are muted and subdued, but he has a great variation in his limited palette, with great use of light and shadows.