Ray of Sunshine

Sunshine Beach artist Ray Robinson believes that you're not a real artist until someone calls you one.

by @debcaruso on Monday, 16 Mar,2015

Ray's career started when he was an 8-year old boy borrowing the Asterix comic books from his local library so that he could sketch copies of the pages. He drew himself volumes of the comic books which his parents showed to a local designer. The designer said two very important things: "his artwork is amazing" and "do him a favour and cut his hands off now."

Born in Albany, West Australia, Ray has continuously moved between the UK and Australia before finally settling into Sunshine Beach where he has lived for the past four years - the longest he has spent in one place after living what he calls a 'circus lifestyle'.

Always fascinated with form and design, Ray completed his apprenticeship as a carpenter and studied interior design and Architecture before turning his focus on art.

He is warm, somewhat mysterious and has an engaging sense of story and humour which he blames on growing up in Liverpool where he says everyone was a storyteller.

"I'm really good at 'dad jokes'," After all, who would name his son Lucas for the the Star Wars fan named his son Lucas (now 11) and gets a kick out of being able to say "Luke, I am your father" on a daily basis.

After arriving in Noosa, Ray worked at a local tattoo parlour where he designed tattoos and learnt how to be a tattoo artist. Before that he spent decades painting and drawing with several exhibitions under his belt and his works are featured in homes and commercial premises around the world.

Copywriting - or what he refers to as "scribbled thoughts" - is another talent and in the past month, he co-founded a small, niche 'zine called "Not Much" which he started with buddy and graphic designer Matt Shaw. He is also working on a children's book called "Closey Eyesy Monster" but right now his focus is on drawing portraits - a lesson learnt from his time at the Original Eumundi Markets.

"The thing with painting is it is hard to receive recognition while you are still alive," he said. "And with abstract work, everyone thinks they can do it. I think people can see the skill and value in drawings and portraits whereas everyone thinks they can be abstract painters by throwing some paint on a canvas. There is a complexity to abstract work and a technical skill that are barely recognised."

In addition to the 'zine Ray said that social media has changed the way artists market themselves by providing a virtual exhibition space for people to view work from around the world 24/7.

"It is lonely being an artist and you can work alone but you shouldn't do it all the time. External influences are so important to keep your work relevant," he said.

While Ray regularly works from the shared space at The Loft Project, his real office is down the road at funky restaurant Mooshka where he can be seen perched at the bar working on his latest drawings and enjoying his 'artist's diet' of a coffee and muffin. "Artists are always broke and so a coffee and a muffin keeps me going all day. I've heard that some people think I'm the owner because I'm always there. I just like being there, it's peaceful and a great place to watch the world go by and get inspiration." His work has struck a chord with dog-loving locals who have been lining up to commission Ray to sketch their beloved best friends.

"I love doing portraits," he said. "For me, it's like a four-and-a-half hour meditation. The detail and focus calms the monkey mind. When I'm engaged in that space the rest of the world disappears."

"Sketching to me is personal and it's about bringing out the personality - whether that is human or animal, every gesture, every stroke tells a story and reveals the inside personality.

He is a big believer in the words of philosopher Aristotle who said: "The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance."

"You will never be happy as an artist and you're not an artist unless someone else calls you one. When you're doing something you're totally into it and then when it is finished you always want to redo it.

"It is a masochistic thing. An artist never finishes their work, they just abandon it," he explains. "Still, I'm kind of glad they didn't chop my hands off."

We are too Ray, we are too.

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