Briefly describe the work you do.
I began as a portrait and still life artist in the 1980’s. Portrait painting is probably the hardest and most rewarding genre. Not just getting a likeness, anyone can be trained to do that, but exploring and capturing in paint a sitter’s character and personality. Everybody has a story and asking the sitter questions about their life and getting them to open up is a way of discovering what they’re all about. I preferred asking people to pose for me rather than taking on commissioned portraits because those are all about vanity anyway. I liked to find people who were also artists or musicians because they tended to be more interesting people to spend time in the studio with.
In 2008 I went back to school to get an M.F.A. at the New York Academy of Art. The experience caused me to branch off into new directions. In my new work I’m painting scenes that are based on things I’ve personally witnessed or from childhood memories. I work primarily in oils on either canvas or panels.
This latest body of work involves a lot of photo references. I take random photos everywhere I go. I then piece them together in surprising ways in Photoshop creating a collage of different images. I like to juxtapose contrasting images. It can be disturbing as well as beautiful.
At what point I your life did you want to become an artist?
When I was a teenager I began taking drawing and oil painting classes at a museum school. There was a feeling of community and I was instantly drawn to it. All the instructors were working artists and some taught at a nearby university. On occasion I would visit their home studios and marvel how the rooms were filled with many works in progress. I loved watching these older artists create things out of thin air. A blank canvas would become animated within a short time.
We also had a neighbor that was renting a garage apartment to an abstract painter who went by the name of John Kennedy, this was the 60’s so the irony was not lost on me. He was an eccentric character and gave our upscale residential block a bit of color (literally, his clothes were splattered with paint) and unpredictability. Maybe that had something to do with it too.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We had two really good art museums and a local music scene. Philbrook Art Center, was in my neighborhood. My family had a membership so I spent a lot of time there looking at everything from Impressionist paintings to Egyptian mummies. I caught the art bug at an early age. I grew up around music. Lots of my friends played in bands. My brother even had a band, still does in fact. And there were great venues like Cain’s Ballroom where local bands could share the stage with everyone from Iggy Pop, the Sex Pistols to country or jazz bands.
What types of conceptual concerns are present in your work? How do those relate to the specific process(es) or media you use?
I am mainly concerned with light and space. For me this is what gives the scene its mystery. My latest body of work involves memories of past experiences as well as personal experiences. I want there to be an almost surreal quality to the scene but still feel tangible and realistic. That is why I use oil paint and work in a traditional manner. It’s still the best way to convey these ideas.
We once heard Chuck Close say he did not believe in being inspired, rather in working hard everyday. What motivates you in your studio practice?
I think I tend to agree with Mr. Close. You have to show up for work at your studio every day. These paintings don’t paint themselves. Even if you’re going in circles and having a bad day at least you’re going through the process of working out ideas and problems. Eventually something will come together and you will catch that inspiration you’re been chasing. Who knows what inspiration is or where it comes from but you’ve got to put in the hours and the labor to make it happen. Sometimes I will get stuck on a problem with a painting and I find myself sitting there staring at the canvas for hours. Then something happens and maybe I wind up going in an unexpected direction. But that’s part of the process too.
What artists living or non-living influence your work?
That list changes over time depending on what I’m doing. Contemporary artists like Vincent Desiderio, Odd Nerdrum and Steve Assael are big influences on me now. I’m also into the late 19th century realists like Joaquín Sorolla and John Singer Sargent who painted with large brush strokes and intense color.
I’m also a bit of a film geek. I watch a lot of movies, new ones as well as classics. Wes Anderson is a current filmmaker that inspires me. That guy can really fill the screen with incredible visual imagery. I’m not always sure what the story is but it’s great to get lost in.
When you are not making art what types of activities and interests do you engage in?
I watch a lot of movies when I’m at home. I love discovering new directors. Lately, I went through a phase where I watched nothing but Romanian and Czech films. They have a visual sensibility and a humor that I alternately don’t understand yet find fascinating. I travel when I can. These are mostly art pilgrimages to Europe where I visit the great art museums as well as search out small out of the way ones. Every small town has a museum and I can always find a few gems.
Patrick Romine is a realist artist who works in traditional oil painting methods. He began his career in Tulsa, Oklahoma where he grew up and developed his sense of color, light and space. He moved to New York City to study at the Art Students League in the early 1980’s. During this time he worked as a graphic designer for the New York Shakespeare Festival. He has been represented by galleries in Santa Fe, New Mexico and has exhibited throughout the New York area as well as Vancouver, Canada. He specializes in figurative pieces and still life. He recently received his MFA from the New York Academy of Art and currently resides in Brooklyn and has a studio in the Gowanus area.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.