Gainor Roberts (born September 14, 1941) is an American artist known for still life and landscape paintings that explore color, forms and symbolism. A classically trained artist in the realist tradition, Roberts uses impressionist brush techniques and intense color. She works in egg tempera, oil, pastel, watercolor and monotype.
In addition to teaching classes in drawing, painting and photography, Roberts has written monographs on design and painting techniques. She is a well-known artist and spokesperson for the visual arts in Tampa Bay.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, Roberts had an early interest in art that was not encouraged by her upper-middle-class Quaker family. She was exposed to art due to her great-great-aunt, Ellen Wetherald Ahrens, a well-known Victorian-era artist who had studied with Howard Pyle and Thomas Eakins. While Roberts often skipped school to draw pictures at home, she had no formal training in art until age 18. Her family would not permit her to enter college as an art major. Instead she attended a summer program taught by the portrait and figure painter Robert Brackman, whose emphasis on classical technique and color was a defining influence. Roberts studied with Brackman in the summers while attending Elmira College as an English major. After graduating from Elmira, Roberts studied painting at the Art Students’ League in NYC. Later she worked as a graphic artist.
In the mid 1970s, she became staff graphic artist at Mystic Seaport. For almost a decade Roberts and her husband traveled around the country, living first on a 31-foot sailing sloop and then in an Airstream RV trailer. During this period, she had little opportunity for painting. In the late 1980s she returned to school in order to refresh her skills. Roberts studied at the National Academy of Design in NYC with Mary Beth McKenzie and James Childs, and at Lyme Academy of Fine Arts in Old Lyme, Connecticut with Deane Keller. She also took workshops with Aaron Shikler. In addition, Roberts studied sculpture at Lyme Academy with Laci de Gerenday. In the 1990s, Roberts began creating works in monotype and moved to Westerly, Rhode Island, where she and another artist ran their own gallery. In 2001 Roberts moved to Zephyrhills, Florida. For several years, she was Art Curator of the Carrollwood Cultural Center in Tampa. She exhibits in several venues in the greater Tampa area and teaches classes and private students.
Roberts is a member of North Tampa Arts League, The Exhibiting Society of Artists (TESA), The Egg Tempera Society, National League of American Pen Women and an honorary member of the New England Monotype Guild.
Egg Tempera and Genesis Series
In 2003, Roberts began experimenting with the demanding medium of egg tempera. She was drawn to it because of the luminous color still seen in medieval and early Renaissance masterworks. Roberts has written a monograph on the technique and now teaches master classes in egg tempera.
The Genesis Series, Roberts’ best known series of egg tempera paintings, represent a high point of her use of color and form to layer meaning into her work. The small (typically 6” x 8”) paintings are studies of organic form. All show the ovary of a fruit or vegetable, focusing on the seeds.
Roberts has been working for over 20 years on her Feeling Series, twelve oil paintings that represent the artist's individual emotions. Started during her recovery period from alcoholism, the paintings initially were therapeutic, to help Roberts break through a creative block. The artist has continued to explore this inner territory; each painting objectifies what is a private experience. The works show arrangements of objects within a restricted color palette. Traditional tropes, such as flowers and musical instruments, are repeated and varied; Roberts uses them as wordplay, metaphor or symbol.
- Karen Ring, "Carrollwood Cultural Center Exhibit Chronicles Tuskegee Airmen Experience," Tampa Bay Times, February 5, 2014, http://www.tampabay.com/things-to-do/visualarts/carrollwood-cultural-center-exhibit-chronicles-tuskegee-airmen-experience/2164256; accessed February 9, 2014
- Evelyn Bless, "All Hail the Art!" Centerpieces 6, no 1, p. 1, 4-5 (http://www.carrollwoodcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/2013-Winter-Centerpieces.pdf)
- Camille C. Spencer, "Free Art Lecture Offered at Cultural Center," Carrollwood Patch, August 25, 2011, http://carrollwood.patch.com/groups/arts-and-entertainment/p/free-art-lecture-offered-at-cultural-center, accessed February 9, 2014
- "Gainor Roberts Is December’s NTAL Artist Of The Month," New Tampa Neighborhood News, 16, no. 24, November 28, 2008, p. 38
- Jeff Berlinicke, "Carrollwood Cultural Center Curator a Life-long Artist," Tampa Bay Times, April 9, 2013, http://tbo.com/carrollwood/carrollwood-cultural-center-curator-a-lifelong-artist-b82473199z1, accessed February 14, 2014
- The permanent collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art includes three Ahrens paintings; for thumbnails see http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/results.html?searchTxt=ellen+wetherald+ahrens&bSuggest=1&keySearch=+Search+&searchNameID=&searchClassID=&searchOrigin=&searchDeptID=&page=1; five Ahrens works are in Philadelphia’s Woodmere Museum of Art (http://woodmereartmuseum.org/).
- Elizabeth Bettendorf, "A generous, lighted space to create," Tampa Bay Times, March 11, 2006, p. 1 and 7, http://www.sptimes.com/2006/03/11/news_pf/Pasco/A_generous__lighted_s.shtml, accessed February 14, 2014
- Camille C. Spencer, "Artist's Corner: Gainor Roberts," Carrollwood Patch, January 24, 2013, http://carrollwood.patch.com/groups/arts-and-entertainment/p/artists-corner-gainor-roberts, accessed February 15, 2014
- Bettendorf, p. 1
- Americangallery.wordpress.com/category/childs-james/, accessed Jan. 3, 2014
- “L. De Gerenday,” 'The Courant', June 19, 2001, articles.courant.com/2001-06-19/news/0106190448_1_new-york-art-world-fine-art-longtime-artist, accessed Jan. 3, 2014
- Cheryl Bentley, “No Joking, This Artist is into Yolking,” The Tampa Tribune, June 14, 2005
- Evelyn Bless, “Story of a Picture,” Centerpieces, 2, no. 4, p. 3-4 (http://www.carrollwoodcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/2009-Winter-Centerpieces.pdf)
- “Art Club Welcomes Guest Artists to Annual Show,” SCC Observer News, 45, no. 2, January 31, 2002. 45, no. 2, p. 1. See also www.gainor.biz/feeling_series_booklet.pdf
- Evelyn Bless, "A Talk with Gainor Roberts," Centerpieces, 7, no. 2, p. 1, 6-7 (http://www.carrollwoodcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/2014-Spring-Centerpieces.pdf)
"Still-Life Painting in Northern Europe, 1600–1800," The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/nstl/hd_nstl.htm; accessed Nov. 10, 2013