‘A Brush with Light’: VAC features Catherine Robbins’ vivid oil paintings of the Big Island’s volcanoes

  • Courtesy photo Volcano artist Catherine Robbins.

  • Courtesy image “A Brush with Light — Volcanic Island Reflections” runs from Jan. 9-Feb. 14, 2021, at the Volcano Art Center Gallery in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Immerse yourself in Hawaii Island’s magnificent landscapes and plants through Catherine Robbins’ evocative oil paintings during her solo exhibition, “A Brush with Light — Volcanic Island Reflections,” which is open now and will run until Feb. 14 at the Volcano Art Center Gallery in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

The public can view the exhibit from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday during its run. Admission is free at the gallery, but park entrance fees apply.


Robbins’ paintings, created with vivid color and rich texture, offer a unique perspective of the island’s extraordinary landscapes, including Kilauea before and after the 2018 eruption, the high mountains of Maunakea and Mauna Loa and the island’s rugged coastline and exceptional plant life.

Robbins is a self-taught artist inspired by the wonders of nature. Raised on Northern California’s fog-shrouded coast, she spent her youth hiking the Coast Range and High Sierra. As a longtime Qigong practitioner, she cultivated a quiet mind and a deep sensitivity to nature’s rhythms, both of which are reflected in her oil paintings. The Island of Hawaii’s windward side has been her home for four decades.

Robbins’ appreciation of nature led her to become a national park eruption ranger on Kilauea’s active lava flows from 2000-07. During that time, she shared her love and knowledge of the landscape with others, which she now does through her paintings. Photographs and sketches she makes in the field guide her brushstrokes, as paintings emerge in her rain forest studio a few miles below Kilauea’s summit crater.

Using brushes, palette knives and rags, she applies multiple layers of paint, blending colors directly on the canvas in a technique Robbins calls “whispering the paint.”


“These fine, subtle details and highlights capture fleeting moments of light and time,” said VAC Gallery manager Emily C. Weiss. “VAC is honored to exhibit Robbins’ new body of work. Kilauea’s summit area has changed dramatically, and witnessing these changes through Catherine’s expressive paintings is a visual delight.”

For more information, visit www.volcanoartcenter.org or contact Weiss at 967-8222 or gallery@volcanoartcenter.org.

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