When Melbourne artist Robyn Rich began studying at Chisholm Institute of TAFE a few years ago, she had very little experience with a paintbrush.
These days Robyn is a full-time artist, who says she paints every single day often for eight to 10 hours straight.
“I had never painted with oils before starting with Chisholm, but now it’s my favourite medium,” Robyn says. “I was expecting to be shown how to do the practical skills, but I was grateful that instead, they took us on our own journey to discover our own style.”
"I’ve always enjoyed drawing, and worked doing colour design in the textile industry, but I wanted to learn other forms of art, other ways to express myself."
Her work has appeared in many galleries and Robyn has been a finalist in the Portia Geach Memorial Arts Awards and was awarded Chisholm Vocational Student of the Year award in Interactive Media and Arts in 2015.
Known for her work painting tiny, miniature portraits on pieces of jewellery, Robyn receives commissions from jewellers all over the world who find her via social media.
In some of her latest work, she has created distinctive paintings of eyes inside vintage tins in preparation for an exhibition.
“I’m painting women’s eyes from all around the world,” Robyn says. “There was a tradition in the 17th century called ‘lover’s eyes’. Before there were photographs, people would have the eye of their loved one painted to keep in their jacket pocket.”
Robyn says she loved the experience of studying at Chisholm, particularly appreciating the support and advice she received from her teachers, which she says still helps her with her work.
“Definitely I would not be doing what I’m doing now if I hadn’t gone to Chisholm,” she says. “Sometimes I feel like the teachers are here with me, sitting on my shoulder giving me advice when I’m wrestling with a piece.
“They (the teachers) also have a good reputation in the art world, so when I would approach a gallery, the people there would know that I’d been taught well."
Robyn has stayed in touch with many of her teachers.
“The relationships I built with those teachers, we’re still in contact all the time. They become not only our mentors but our peers as well, I find that a lovely step,” she says.
“You go to exhibition openings and they’re there and you’re able to talk them. The art community is a really lovely community, I think.”