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Local Holladay artist combines her love of music and painting to create some rocking portraits

Aug 28, 2017 05:50PM ● Published by Jana Klopsch

Painting by Lorraine Robinson of Dave Grohl. (Lorraine Robinson/courtesy)

Gallery: rocking portraits [5 Images] Click any image to expand.

By Lexi Peery | l.peery@cityjournals.com

For Lorraine Robinson, music had always been her creative outlet. 

Growing up in San Francisco in the 1960s — the era of the Beatles, Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix and Woodstock — Robinson was exposed to music of all kinds, and was a musician herself.

“It was a phenomenally creative era in the history of the United States. The Vietnam War was ending, the music was so powerful. It was peace, love and rock n’ roll,” Robinson said. “The drug culture came about and kind of blew everything out of the water. The music of the ’60s, ’70s, was just so phenomenal in my personal opinion. It revolutionized all of rock n’ roll.”

It wasn’t until her children grew up, she was living in Holladay and she was in her 50s that Robinson decided to pick up painting. At the encouragement of a friend, Robinson decided to take classes with an artist in downtown Salt Lake. 

“I had no interest whatsoever in art when I was young. I was a musician and all of my family was musicians, and we played the piano, guitar, sang — of course it was the hippie era, I never went anywhere without my guitar,” Robinson said. “But now painting is just another creative outlet for me.”

Robinson’s musical roots are still deeply embedded in her as she continues to hone her skills as a painter — her favorite things to paint are portraits of great musicians. However, before she could paint intricate, life-like paintings of some of music’s most iconic rockers, Robinson started out with the basics — landscapes and sunsets — and worked her way up.

Robinson continues to take classes, and has a group of women in her neighborhood get together twice a week to learn from their teacher Brendan Clary. Clary, Robinson said, specializes in portraits and has helped her find the best ones to work on. Her current project is painting all the members of the 27 Club.

“(The 27 Club) is all the rock stars that died of a drug overdose at age 27 — that’s Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin,” Robinson said. “There just seems to be a plethora of them that off themselves at age 27. Right now, I’m in the middle of doing that, and that’s really fun for me.”

As she continues to paint some of music’s greats, Robinson hopes she can share her love of music and art with more people. She’s already been commissioned to paint a few musicians, like David Bowie and Dave Grohl, and is looking to do more. 

“I’m kind of brewing on what I want to do. One lady in our class has shows all the time to show her artwork. Mine is geared to an audience that really wants their favorite rock-star portrait in their home. Which is a little different than usual, just steady as she goes,” Robinson said. “Eventually I’d love to put my work somewhere people can see and buy it if they’d like.”

Despite not singing and playing musical instruments much anymore, Robinson pays homage to her musical background in her paintings and during her art classes with fellow neighborhood artists. As Robinson adds the final touches to her portraits of musicians, she likes to turn on a few songs by the artist; listening to their music connects her to the artist in some ways, Robinson said. 

“It’s just fun to get a vibe and somehow I feel like if I listen to their music while I paint I feel like I spiritually connect with them because of my musical background,” Robinson said. “I just want to capture their essence in my portraiture and the music helps me do that.”

The Holladay Arts Council is always looking for more local artists to be recognized as the Artist of the Month. Residents are encouraged to nominate a local artist by filling out a nomination form at www.holladayarts.org or by contacting Linda O’Bryan at ceobyran@aol.com. 

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