We had the good fortune of connecting with Robert Macmillan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Robert, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
In the past I had a lot more free time – however, I often found myself overdoing it. Working on your own you can often become your own worst enemy either by being too critical or not knowing when to stand back and take a break. Now that I am married with three children I am more disciplined with the time that I have. I try to get into my studio for about 7.30am as I’ve always worked well first thing in the morning. I don’t find its affected my output, if anything having a family has helped me to switch off. I think you have to find something outside of your profession otherwise it can consume you. As much as I love to paint I’ve learnt that it isn’t everything…although I have to keep that in check! For me getting outside is as important as being in my studio not just for the good of my mental health but it feeds my work greatly.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
At the moment my work is focused and inspired by the Scottish landscape. I moved away ( though not totally)from painting the figure several years ago and found myself being more inspired and influenced by the East Coast landscape and the quality of light. From being farely confident at making portraits I found working from the landscape a far greater challenge mainly because unlike my figurative work I didn’t respond to working directly from what was in front of me . Instead through notes but mainly memory I was able to create paintings I was happy with. I think the challenge is to keep improving but also to pace one self, it’s not a race and I’ve learned( its taken a while) to take breaks from painting and recharge.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I think I’d take them on day trips to many of the beaches that have inspired me , especially Lunan Bay on the east coast ( of scotland) St andrews as a place as well is great and there’s also a fabulous bookshop called Topping and Co ( they even serve you great coffee or tea for free!!) My father was born and brought up on the west coast of Scotland in a beautiful place called Arisaig. As a child and teenager we’d visit often and I’d head up there as well a truly wonderful place! So if you could include them, a few good coffee shops and bookshops then I am sure they’d have a great time!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My parents were a huge encouragement and support to me, although I’m sure the thought of me being an artist must have been a concern for them! But thankfully they were able to see the success that I have had as a painter. An art teacher from my high school, Tom Coyle who’s guidance and help I’ve always been grateful for. Being introduced to the work of Ken Currie had a profound effect on me and it was seeing an exhibition of his that inspired me to become a painter. At art college a Norwegian student showed me a book on the work of Odd Nerdrum. Also discovering the work (online) of the American tonalists, especially George Inness and of of course Whistler . But most recently being able to study the work of Turner whether in art galleries or (at the moment) books. I highly recommend ‘ Painting Set Free’ and ‘ The Late Seascapes’ But also undoubtedly the help and support of friends and family; my wife, my good friend Robert Orchardson and David McCulloch (both friends are also artists).
Other: All the links are on my website
Just myself Robert Macmillan