Sally Robertson (b. 1946)
September Roses with Smoke Bush Foliage
Painted from a bouquet that Robertson made from her garden, for the 2019 Bolinas Museum Annual Benefit Art Auction, September Roses with Smoke Bush Foliage is an excellent example of Robertson’s mastery of technique, lush color, and sensual form, as well as her skill at capturing reflections in water through glass and her style of creating & then painting outside a boundary. Her inspiration for floral paintings, or those of the watery world of her koi pond, stems from her renowned Bolinas garden, which is a destination for horticulturists and artists from around the world.
Raised in Marin, Sally Robertson moved to Bolinas in 1978. She joined the museum’s board of directors in 1995 and has served for more than twenty years, including as president of the board (2003-2005). After earning her M.A. at U.C. Berkeley, Robertson worked with long time friend Sean Thackrey—now famous for his fine wines—and established the Thackrey / Robertson Gallery of San Francisco in 1970. They became a prime international resource for museums and collectors interested in fine 19th and 20th century works on paper.
While developing her Bolinas garden, Robertson turned her creative passion to becoming a master watercolorist. She has taught watercolor workshops both locally and internationally, and her work was featured on posters for the Bay Area’s Pacific Orchid Exposition for 20 years, as well as in both fine art and horticulture publications and art exhibitions. Robertson’s work is preserved in such collections as the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation of the Carnegie Mellon University and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Achenbach Collection.
As part of the Bolinas Museum’s mission to serve and promote local talent, they regularly present Focus exhibitions, which feature a coastal Marin artist with an established career and a mature body of work. Sally Robertson was selected as the 2021 artist based on the Focus exhibition criteria.
Robertson writes of her art: “I try to search out the most telling and revelatory aspects of my subjects, always pushing the limits of the descriptive power of watercolor. Although my work is characterized by a strong sense of realism, I have a reverence for the poetic quality of watercolor, and believe that watercolor applied wet into wet has a spontaneous life of its own and an exuberance that reflects nature most powerfully. My challenge and my goal is bringing together the clear eye of a gardener and the magic vision of an artist.”