Painter Robin Eley

From Basketball Courts to Art Galleries: Robin Eley’s Inspirational Journey

Isabella Taylor speaks with Australian hyperrealist artist Robin Eley, who shares his inspirational story of becoming an artist, beginning his journey in art drawing as a young kid. Eley was born to an Australian father and Chinese mother. In 1981, his family migrated to Australia where he completed high school at Pembroke School in Adelaide, South Australia. In 1997, he moved to the United States, attended Westmont College, captained the basketball team, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in fine art in 2001.

Early Beginnings and Creative Drive

Robin Eley’s journey as an artist began in his early childhood, drawing with crayons in his London home before his family moved to Australia. This passion for drawing persisted, with Robin often spending entire days creating art. Drawing became a solace for him, particularly as he navigated the challenges of being socially awkward and anxious. Sports, particularly basketball, and drawing were his two main outlets, both of which defined his early years.

Transition to Professional Art

Despite his deep love for art, Robin also pursued basketball with fervor, eventually leading him to the United States. His artistic talent, however, continued to flourish. Robin’s leap from pencil to paint marked a significant milestone in his career, culminating in his stunning hyperrealistic self-portrait that earned him runner-up in the Doug Moran National Art Prize in 2010. This recognition catapulted him into the art world, establishing his reputation for creating intricately wrapped portraits influenced by history.

Philosophy and Artistic Process

Robin’s hyperrealistic paintings often elicit surprise and admiration for their intricate detail. He explains that his process involves painting both the subject and the wrapping simultaneously, as the plastic alters the appearance of what lies beneath. This meticulous approach showcases his dedication to his craft.

Advice for Aspiring Artists and Parents

Reflecting on his journey, Robin advises young artists to avoid judging themselves based on their ability to replicate images, emphasising that true artistic talent lies beyond mere imitation. As a parent, he encourages providing children with the tools and space to explore their creativity, while limiting interactions with devices that can stifle imaginative thinking.

Robin Eley’s story is a testament to the power of passion, discipline, and self-belief. His journey from a young boy drawing in London to an acclaimed hyperrealist artist serves as an inspiration for aspiring artists everywhere. Robin’s art is not just a reflection of his talent, but an integral part of who he is, deeply connected to his identity and experiences.

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