Robyn Drake

Robyn Drake grew up on an Iowa farm amid cattle, horses, and expansive landscapes. Robyn moved to Chicago after attending Drake University.  In 2013, she moved to California, and currently resides in Half Moon Bay.

Using oils, oil pastels, charcoal, and more recently, acrylics, she explores the interplay of awe and endurance, vulnerability and resilience, through representational subjects.

Robyn’s work has been exhibited in group and solo exhibitions primarily in Chicago and California. Her evolving horse series marked a significant return to her roots on the ranch in Iowa. Robyn’s drawings and paintings are in private collections in the USA, Europe, and Asia, and have won awards in juried competitions.

Drake was awarded scholarships and earned degrees in studio art and art history at Drake University, with further development through post-graduate classes at the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. 


Inspired by the interplay of vulnerability, strength, and power, my art employs representational imagery to navigate themes of agency through contemporary expressionism.  I engage with and question the complexities of our current existential predicament while acknowledging and elevating primal facets of ourselves in a social landscape which grows increasingly illusionistic.

Through the equine and animal subjects, I delve into resilience and fragility, using an anthropomorphic perspective as a chronicle of unfiltered emotional landscapes in my life. The horses never wear any tack or offer narrative cues to assign historical era, or culture which would distract from the purity of the emotional statement.  In contrast, my human figures are often dreamy and introspective, others are blatantly symbolic in dreamlike environments, both less outwardly emotive than the animals, and contain visual clues to culture, era, and social strata.

The seascapes switch the narrative to engage the viewer with uncontrollable external powers.  With the drama of the waves, both beautiful and dangerous, there is a reminder of powerlessness and resilience in the face of larger forces, which also serve as metaphors of sociopolitical forces overwhelming personal agency through social constructs.

My selection of charcoal, acrylics, and oils pays tribute to the craft legacy of traditional painting and dedication to hone my skill as a painter.  The choice of media becomes a crucial element of my practice.

Currently I’m preparing for upcoming group and solo exhibitions and new gallery representation.  I’m investigating the use of AI as a tool for creating complex compositions as an addition to working from life and manipulated photographs.  A personal symbolic language is emerging as my subjects grow.  I will always return to commissioned horse paintings and portraits as a grounding device for my work.