Q and A with Barbara Rabkin

April Goodjohn

When did you first know you were an artist and what was happening in your life at that time?

Rabkin: I knew I loved to make/create/paint/draw as a very young child. It was my favorite thing to do. And, I always painted and made art. But, I came late to immersing myself in art – after raising my four children, after years in community non-profit work as a volunteer and professional. It was after our retirement move to Panama with my husband in 2008 that I found the time and environment in which to really immerse myself in the creative process.


What is your artistic process like?

Rabkin: As a mixed media artist, I view everything as a potentially artistic element. I tend to keep scraps which may show up years later in a work of art. I paint, cut, slice, tear, throw away, retrieve, start over. An art teacher in high school once advised me to not be too precious – in other words, be fearless. I have no fear and that allows me to imagine and innovate.


Q Where does your inspiration come from and how, if at all, has artistic inspiration changed for you throughout your career?

Rabkin: I find my prompts through reading, music, walking, dreams, looking at photographs, and studying other artists. I love the 20th century expressionists, their grand gestures and colors. I let things marinate in my head and then start making marks on paper. I usually just jump in, without preliminary designs, just an idea. I am definitely most comfortable being spontaneous.


Q What is your work environment like? What elements in your work environment are most crucial to you?

Rabkin: I am messy. I wish I could be neater. But I work so spontaneously and focused that I don’t take the time to put things away nicely. I’m always looking for things I just used. I like to work in mixed media. I enjoy experimenting with styles and materials. Living in San Diego, I am often able to work outside under a big umbrulla, listening to the fountain and the birds. I like working in solitude. That was certainly my MO during COVID, and perhaps I was so prolific.


Q What would you like viewers to know about Come Together?

Rabkin: While I work solo, I value community. I enjoy meeting people and sharing ideas. Coming together – art, in all forms, brings people together to enhance understanding, communication, acceptance. Our world needs this.

April 18, 2022