Six-color palette gallery explores shape

campus editor

As an artist, Ralph Tobin practices intentionality through deliberate and planned-out paintings. A Thursday exhibition on NE Campus showcased works where he had limited the color palette to six colors. 

The paintings used bright colors and bold shapes to catch the viewer’s eye. 

“In some areas I’ll add a little white to tone it down,” Tobin said. “Some areas, I put an extra coat to establish that depth and darkness a little better. I might fade out the center. It’s all about manipulating paint.” 

NE Campus is the only campus that does not have a Gallery, so the art department transformed its teaching space into a gallery to showcase Tobin’s work. 

Richard Parker, an arts professor at NE Campus, said he arranged the event to allow students to appreciate an artist’s process. 

“His work is an excellent way to show students what a work ethic is and how much work it takes to get something accomplished,” Parker said. 

Tobin has been on the path of becoming an artist since childhood. He said he has always had a knack for art. 

“I started when I was 5 years old, picked up a pencil and started struggling with it,” Tobin said. “I remember one time I did a drawing of a Mr. Smith airplane. I think I was 8 or 9 years old. I showed it to my mother and she said, ‘You traced it.’ I said, ‘No I didn’t.’ I had to redo the drawing in front of her.” 

Tobin said one of the most challenging parts of making art is wondering if it will sell. He said he has moved away from this sentiment and now embraces doing what he wants. 

“If nobody likes it, that’s fine,” Tobin said. “I don’t need to worry about finding out that it’s well received.” 

Tobin’s work is influenced by his 50 years of experience in the advertising industry. He said he prioritizes design and starts with thumbnail sketches. 

“I work it all out so it’s balanced and I know where I’m going,” Tobin said. 

The event offered students the chance to interact with the artist and ask questions. Students came up to Tobin and spoke to him about his artwork. Tobin was welcoming and gave his full attention to students and guests alike. 

Jacklyn Hall, a friend of Tobin’s, said she loves his work and has taken several classes with him. 

“I’ve watched him diligently painting each stroke and the countless layers of paint,” Hall said “I’ve always loved the study of color, and I noticed the difference in dynamics between his oil work, display work and watercolors, which are more lifelike … the oil works are completely different and abstract. I just love looking at that.” 

Betty Doke is currently taking a painting class on NE Campus. She said she found the event interesting even though she is not the biggest fan of abstract art. 

“The colors are really bright, so it gives me a sense of happiness and joy,” Doke said. 

Tobin said one thing that inspired him was a book on Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp is a highly regarded French artist. He challenged many conventional ideas about art in the 20th century. 

Tobin’s own work is full of personality. He has a clear vision of what his art represents. 

“The title page had a statement that said, ‘I don’t believe in art. I believe only in the artist,’ Tobin said. “Who’s better to say what art is but the person who creates it?”