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Robina Yasmin

As my family come from Kenya an interest in African wildlife has always been with me. From an early age I would explore our home looking for things to create with fabrics, papers, beads, leaves etc. I was very lucky to have such an abundance of materials to play with. I was given a beautiful set of oil paints at 7 years old and it was here that my first experiments with this wonderful medium started. 

I studied at the Cumbria College of Art, Birmingham Institute of Art & Design and finally the wonderful Glasgow School of Art. I feel very lucky to have met such inspirational tutors who have given me the confidence to bring out the best in my abilities. I have been painting professionally for the last 15 years. During this time I have developed a distinct style. I paint what I love and I'm very fortunate that other people seem to like what I do. I am humbled at the thought that my work is part of many private collections all over the world. 

To be a painter I have to firstly be inspired, this then fuels my desire to paint. Many things inspire me all the time and light is quite possibly the most important thing for me. This serves to bring out the colours, forms and beauty in all things.

I started painting zebras because they're such beautiful animals and I've always admired them. Their black and white stripes and how light falls onto their bodies defines their forms in such a clear and direct way. My aim is to produce work that is ultimately considered contemporary. Clean lines, strong compositions, clear backgrounds and a narrative that the viewer can relate to. I take hundreds of photographs, if not thousands, when I visit safari parks here or abroad to capture as much as possible. I love looking at the way zebras behave with one another, their characters and temperaments that define the mood of a herd. I see much of us in these beautiful animals, particularly when there is a new born around. Often their behaviour can give rise to a title that in turn sets a painting in motion.

For me working from the right imagery is extremely important. I am a very keen photographer and have built up a large library of images of my subjects and I will often spend hours looking through them. Sometimes I have a title in mind that helps decide my next painting. I always start with the background first and then roughly sketch, using diluted oil paint, my subject before applying layers on top. Being able to see the brush strokes as the painting builds up is always a delight.

My working day usually begins around 8.30 am after my husband takes our young son, Eden, to school. I find a good cup of tea and quiet moment helps me focus for a day in the studio. Preparation is everything at this time; my paints, brushes and working area all have to be ready. I then carefully consider the direction my painting is going to take. I'm not a big fan of having a quiet studio so for me listenin to music or more recently audio books really helps oil my creativity. I work hard during the day but interestingly it never feels like work. I'm very much a family person so when my son returns home I really enjoy the pleasures he brings to our lives.
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