Boulder painter Remington Robinson, a Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design graduate, has lived here for almost 20 years, but our stunning setting still inspires him regularly.
"The rock formations and the mountains are always fun to paint, either up close or from far away,” he says. “When you have atmosphere involved—if there is weather—that’s always fun to do paintings of. Maybe some days there is snow or rain, or light shining through the atmosphere. Something about the mountains is always fun to paint, but then there’s all the different subject matter within town that has nothing to do with the mountains.”
Robinson has diverse talents and experience, from ultra-realist paintings that look like photographs to giant mural projects, but in recent years he has focused on gorgeous plein-air paintings inside Altoid tins—setting up somewhere intriguing and “painting from life.” He says he has fun doing them, in Boulder and while traveling, and their popularity never seems to stop growing.
“I always kind of knew that it was smart to have a niche, but I didn’t know what my niche was going to be. I struggled for a lot of years, and I remember learning maybe 15 years ago that it’s smart to have a niche, and about eight years ago my brother turned me on to a book by Robert Greene called Mastery. I think that was where I heard that the more specialized you can be, the more indispensable you are, the more you’re able to market yourself and be a specialist in your field.”
Remington continues, “One of the important points is that your niche doesn’t land in your lap. It takes a lot of hard work to achieve.”
Remington’s Instagram account is also a huge success, and he doesn’t hesitate when asked if he has any simple advice for aspiring—or just relatively unknown—artists who want to expand their presence online.
“For me, it was partly ‘right place, right time,’” he asserts. “But there are a lot of different techniques you can do. One, have a consistent feed showing what you do, not a bunch of other things. When people follow you, they’re signing up to see your stuff. Another thing is posting at the right time, like when people open their phones in the morning, maybe while eating breakfast. So before work, but definitely right after work too.”
Remington seems like he could teach artists a class on social media, but he also doesn’t take it so seriously he’s lost sight of what he really loves: making art.
“I try not to feel that pressure, because it doesn’t feel good. It’s like you’re living your life as a slave to posting, which is kind of dumb. But in a way, if that’s how you’re trying to make your living, it’s part of your job.”
An Ohio native, Remington has impressively made his passion his real job, and is glad to hear from fledgling plein-air painters in Boulder who’ve taken his lead.
“People have sent me messages telling me that I’m inspiring them,” he says, noting that he considers quitting drinking to be a major part of why his career blossomed.
“It’s about being prolific, and staying focused, you know? I couldn’t really do that when I was drinking. But I feel like I have a lot of improvement that I need to make. I feel like I still have a lot of work to do. If you feel like you’ve made it to the top and there’s nowhere else to go, then you might have a disorder or something.”