Artist Bio

 

Catherine Robbins - Inspired by the Wonders of Nature


Exploring the natural world, from mountaintops to coastal lava flows, has taught me to listen to the greater forces and my deepest inner voice. A lifelong hiker and former national park ranger, I’m a self-taught artist inspired by light and the wonders of nature.

My work is collected internationally and I am represented by several galleries on the island of Hawai`i. Click here for the complete list of galleries and gift shops that carry my art.

My paintings have been exhibited in juried shows since 1999.

Walking in the mountains of California as a young person, I was awed by the beauty and grace of nature. I felt at home under the stars, and I became attuned to the calls of birds, the wind in the trees and the gentle whisper of my own inner voice. Now, living in the rainforest on an erupting volcano in Hawai‘i, all of these sensitivities are heightened.

For me, painting is an intuitive, heartfelt process that emerges from a quiet mind. Mountains were my first teachers, and now meditation, qigong practice and being in the out-of-doors are my guides.

A Journey from the Cubicle to Art

After graduating from the University of California at Davis, I traveled an indoor career path for almost two decades, navigating miles of hallways and offices, with regular but brief forays into the wilderness. I believed in the alternative energy and conservation projects that I worked on, but I lived mostly indoors with a busy mind and schedule. In my mid thirties, I knew something was missing in my life but had only an inkling of what it was. On my days off, I began thinking wildly, journaling, and creating abstract paintings. Finally, after three years of probing reflections, I left the indoor world of the cubicle and stepped into the unknown. At the time, I called it “taking a swan dive into space,” but I knew it was the right thing to do.


For the next seven years, I worked as a national park ranger on Kilauea’s active lava flows in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Day after day, I watched lava rivers weave their way to the sea and dramatically transform the landscape. I saw humpback whales breach offshore, the Southern Cross rise after sunset, and meteors streak across a vast night sky. Being in the great out-of-doors every day, with the wind in my face and sky overhead, my heart started beating in sync with nature and I began listening again, ever more closely, to the greater forces and my own inner voice.

A Moment of Insight


One day, while hiking on Mauna Kea’s magnificent upper slopes, I knew that I must paint again.

I paint subjects that I know well and love. Places where I’ve spent a lot of time. Before painting, I sit in meditation and practice qigong to clear my mind and body. When I feel my mind let go and merge with the quiet, I pick up the paintbrush and begin to work, while another type of knowing emerges and guides me.

 

Painting in the Rainforest


I was raised in the fog-shrouded coastal mountains outside San Francisco, but the verdant windward side of the island of Hawai‘i has been my home for almost thirty years. Here in my rainforest studio, a few miles below Kilauea’s erupting summit crater, sunlight filters through giant tree ferns while native birdsong fills the air. I share this forest home with my husband, Tom Peek and our orange cat Gabes.

Mahalo to Tom Peek, C.J. Peek and Tim Orr (USGS) for use of the photos