Before I ever met local artist Robyn Thayer, I was captivated by her cover photo in the magazine In Her Studio—Spaces and Stories of Creative Women. She was comfortably perched on a refurbished antique armchair and snuggling a chicken. Slightly muted in the background was her studio filled with a multitude of colorful projects. After reading her superb, self-written article, I wanted to meet her in person to better understand her artistic journey and the workspace she calls “My Magic Castle.”
Growing up in the small town of Crosslake, Minnesota, Robyn Thayer was encouraged to live in a “magical world” her young mind naturally gravitated toward. She spent much of her time outdoors exploring and enjoying lake activities and has fond memories of sitting at her grandma’s kitchen table crafting with scissors, paper and glue around a huge bowl of butterscotch candies and Werther’s Originals.
Once the Minnesota winters began, Robyn’s mother brought home office dividers and cornered off a space somewhere in the home and said to Robyn, “Whatever is behind here, you don’t have to clean up.” What a freeing experience, especially since painting, gluing and cutting all make such a mess, but as Robyn says, “It’s necessary to the process.” Hours upon hours were spent in her crafting corner bringing her imaginative world to life.
There is always a moment when artists recognize their gift; Robyn’s came in an unusual way. While attending the University of Minnesota, Duluth, she’d write letters to her friends on paper she had painted with a blend of colors and designs. She also painted poems and quotes using calligraphy—treasures many of her friends wound up keeping not just for the words, but the beauty each piece presented. As time passed, many of her friends wound up going to the only art gallery/frame shop in Crosslake to get Robyn’s gifts framed.
After graduating from college with the intention of going to medical school, Robyn took (and passed) the MCATS but knew in her heart becoming a doctor wasn’t in the stars for her. She knew she was a healer in some way or another, but wasn’t sure of her path.
In stepped the universe.
One day, the frame/gallery owner from her hometown of Crosslake called Robyn: “I think people would buy your work,” she said. “I’ll teach you how to make copies and I’ll sell them and also host a show for you.” Robyn immediately jumped at the opportunity.
A few years later, while living in Colorado and attending an intense yoga program, a close friend of Robyn’s (who was also a gallery owner) offered to show her work. Once Robyn’s bold, unique and colorful creations made it to a larger audience, the demands were indicative of the quality of her work. From that point forward, Robyn decided to focus solely on her craft.
She worked in several different studios before creating her own “magic castle” where she now summons her inner free-spirited child on a daily basis. Robyn’s artistic process is very unique. During her downtime, she’ll paint varied prismatic and curious designs onto heavyweight paper or canvas—a very meditative and relaxing activity for Robyn. The sheets dry and are tucked away for future creations. Once she dreams up her next project, Robyn will sketch it out, then outline it on a wooden canvas. Next, pieces are cut from her “scrap” pages, both large and small, and collaged together. Last, she’ll brush on acrylic paint or use a graphite pencil to accent, highlight and/or shade certain areas. The final stage includes an acrylic sealant which provides an overall protective coat.
As a wife, mom to two young girls, 20 chickens, two Bassett Hounds, and a self-proclaimed homemaker who enjoys gardening, baking and decorating, Robyn is always seeking balance in this world of constant motion. She finds sticking to a creative schedule enables her to carve time for herself, which ultimately provides happiness to others.
Robyn’s art career began from the heartfelt paintings, letters and poems she gifted friends and family; she continues to honor her “healing” spirit through art. “I just feel so blessed… that I get to turn to the thing I love the most for my comfort. And I get to create pieces of beauty that people are drawn to and can shine a light into their life.” Robyn saw the effect her work had on others more than ever during COVID, a time when people were in need of ways to beautify their world and bring a smile to their face. And, I promise, it’s almost impossible NOT to smile when viewing a Robyn Thayer painting—every ounce of her bright energy and inventive mind shines through.
Visit robynthayer.com to see more of Robyn’s work. Also, she has recently donated two of her pieces to Artma, “A unique, funky, fabulous art auction” in Denver that believes deeply in the healing power of art. The April 30 Art Auction proceeds benefit children’s brain cancer treatment. Tickets: artmaonline.org