By Gussie Fauntleroy; Photos by Jack Parsons
After working in a variety of rented studios over the years, New Mexico painter Laura Robb knew exactly what she wanted when she planned her own space: tall, side-by-side windows set high above head level in the north wall. Looking out through them, all you see are clouds and the deep blue of a New Mexico sky. And they provide consistent “cool” light all day without any distracting shafts of sunlight.
But while Robb needs the cool north light for her still-life and figurative paintings, the feeling in her studio is warm and welcoming. The room’s tall ceiling is paneled in pine; its smooth-finished plaster walls are a faintly mottled, earthy shade. The artist colored the smooth concrete floor with a rust staining medium—a process that is “basically like leaving a wrench in the rain on your driveway,” she jokes—creating large squares of rich brown in varying shades.
It’s appropriate that the space feels comfortable, because Robb’s studio is the main room in her house, taking the place of a living room. You walk through the front door and there you are, facing shelves full of objects that will become still-life arrangements: beautiful colored-glass and Japanese vases, porcelain figurines, colorful chopsticks, china tea sets, brass and copper kettles. In one corner is a raised platform for a model to stand or sit in front of a dark green velvet cloth. A loft area provides a place for relaxation, reading, and canvas storage.
On the other side of a partial wall and open doorway on the studio’s south side is a narrow kitchen, full of bright, direct light from wall-size solar windows. “I knew I wanted solar windows, but I didn’t want south light in the studio, so the kitchen ended up here,” Robb says. A bedroom next to the kitchen also catches the warm south light.
Outside her home-studio, on a windy acre of open land, Taos Mountain looms in the distance. Robb has everything she needs inside, though, in a house that smoothly blends working house and living space. Here the artist, her cats Scooter and Skyler, and a sweet black dog named Trudy happily spend their days and nights.
Robb is represented by Claggett/Rey Gallery, Vail, CO; Nedra Matteucci Galleries, Santa Fe, NM; and Grapevine Gallery, Oklahoma City, OK.
Featured in January 2002