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Chopping Block: Robert Bellm

Flora and fauna are the order of the day for multi-talented artist, Robert Bellm. Using nature and its inhabitants as the main characters, The Pacific Northwest resident tells stimulating stories that illuminate the experiences of wildlife. When he came by the office the other day to sign the release of his print "Colibri" we stole a few minutes from him to find out more about his captivatingly purposeful creations.

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POW: We are beyond excited about our current print release with you, “Colibri.” Settling in perfectly with the other pieces in your online gallery with us, the piece features a beautifully painted bird as the main focal point. What inspired your use of nature as a thematic thread running through your artwork?

Bellm: Well I guess it’s part of my “roots”. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest in Seattle Washington. In Seattle nature is everywhere. We are surrounded by two amazing mountain ranges; the Olympics and the North cascades. Also water is a major player with lakes, rivers and the ocean on the west part of the state. I grew up camping and hiking all around Washington, Oregon and throughout Canada. When it comes to birds I am drawn their unique qualities, such as color, variety in species, size and shape. There is also different connotation that comes with each type of bird, weather its predator or prey or beauty or beast. Birds to me represent beauty and freedom. Birds have freedom to soar as high as they can and then come back down and live amongst the rest of us. I produce art based on subject matter that calls out to me and challenges me to try to understand it and interpret it.

 

11043155_875538855835815_4753049561735445963_nColibri by Robert Bellm

POW: Any viewer can easily identify your effortlessly brilliant use of color. It seems as though this style has remained consistent for a good amount of time. Some might say your pieces have grown slightly more vivid over time but how would you say your style has changed in, say, the past ten years?

Bellm:Color has always been something that I used, but not always understood. A close friend once commented on my work and my use and understanding of color. I guess from that point I was more aware of what I was doing and embraced my strength. As far as my growth in the last ten years … I have worked on some much larger paintings, because I usually work very small. Also my subject matter has slowly changed; more recently I have tried to branch out into other subject matter

samurai-crop-1x1.jpg.thumbnail_3Samurai by Robert Bellm

POW: From spray paint, to silkscreen, you mentioned that you’ve experimented with a plethora of mediums and techniques. Of them all, what would you say is the most enjoyable for you and why?

Bellm: It would have to be cardboard and tape, its low cost versatile. You can work big, small, 2-d, 3-d, you can draw on it, paint it or leave it plain. You can make art, things to wear, forts anything your imagination can think of. It also allows you the ability to sketch out ideas before you move to more permanent materials.

birdcutroll-r057-crop-1x1.jpg.thumbnail_3Bird Cut Roll by Robert Bellm

POW: Speaking of wood, (we kind of like talking about it) how did your interest in the medium come about?

Bellm: I spent 5 years working in a woodshop so I was able to collect wood scraps to paint and print on. Before I really became a painter I would cut up 4’ x 8’ foot shipping boards and directly screen-print on them. I also experimented in building bird sculptures by laminating pieces wood together and even built a 125lb wooden elephant. Coincidentally I use the same grade of furniture grade birch that Prints on Wood prints on. Currently I paint on wood surfaces… I like the ability to paint on a smooth surface that allows me to get great details. Canvas is too rough and bouncy.imposters500-c4587d174a-crop-1x1.jpg.thumbnail_4

Bird Horse by Robert Bellm

POW: Just for second, we’re going to get a little philosophical and “what is the true meaning of life-y.” I read an inspiring quote in your bio that led you to begin developing your philosophy on life. Have you come to define it? And how does the philosophy influence your creations?

Bellm: I think the quote you are thinking of is one by Jacob Lawrence. " My Belief is that it is most important for an artist to develop an approach and philosophy about life. If he has developed this philosophy, he does not put paint on canvas, he puts himself on canvas." So I guess the philosophy I developed is to express my opinions and ideas through nature. I try to do this in subtle way that is masked behind the beauty and color nature. But if you look long enough you can begin to see and feel a message come out filtered through your own life experiences and ideas.wood_pecker_400-5c569c06f8-crop-4x5.jpg.thumbnail_3

Pileated Woodpecker by Robert Bellm

POW: You’ve exhibited your work some of the most major cities across the U.S. New York, Los Angeles, Orlando…the list goes on. Was there one that hosted an important memory for you in your art career?

Bellm: I did a show with Kozy n Dan and Heisuke Kitazawa at Giant Robot 2 in LA in 2008. The show meant a great deal to me for many reasons. Giant Robot put me on the map as far as exposing my art to a larger audience. Eric over there has an amazing vision and has opened the door for my younger and newer artists and provided them with the opportunity to been seen by a diverse crowd both online and in person. I have participated over 20 shows at their New York, San Francisco and LA location but that one was my favorite. Also at the time I turn down an opportunity to be exclusive with another gallery, but I turned it down because did not want to burn a bridge just so I can cross another.  I have extreme respect for all those who have guided me and helped me along the way. Last but not Least Kozy N Dan… Really down to earth people fun to hang out with. And to have a chance to be on the same stage even for just a month was a great honor.

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For more information on Robert Bellm, please visit: www.robertbellm.com