When Dr. Robert Adams isn't seeing patients in his Brighton office, it's likely he's holed up in a bed and breakfast painting the landscapes and architectural elements he's surrounded by.
“The majority of my day is about numbers and classifications, whereas art is about color and perspective and other types of relationships,” Adams, a family physician, said. “It's a nice distraction from daily life, and it's a really great way to meet people who think in a different way.”
Adams, who started painting watercolors 10 years ago, credits the Brighton Art Guild (BAG) as being his primary source of motivation. Norma Gray, the woman who spearheaded the formation of the BAG, was Adams's first teacher, and he is part of a critique group called 'The 12' that meets once a month.
“All of the artists are much more accomplished than me, and they foster me to learn,” Adams said. “It's interesting to see how our work evolves over time.”
The sense of community among BAG members directly influences the work of the artists, Adams said. He cited an exchange between he and Phil Gibbon, a digital artist, as an example.
Phil came to see my swing band play, Adams said. He took a photograph and reworked it in Photoshop, then I modeled a painting from the photo.
“It's exciting when different parts of your life cross,” Adams said.
Adams, who lives in Brighton Township, paints several times a week at his cottage in Linden, but his favorite place to paint is The Looking Glass Inn, a Grand Haven bed and breakfast perched atop a sand dune on the shore of Lake Michigan. Several of Adams's paintings, gifted to the owners, hang on the walls of inn.
When Adams sits down to work, he begins by building a palette from the primary colors. He then recalls a personal connection or simply looks at the beauty around him.
Composed of broad washes, his paintings take a scene and break it into basic geometric components. The work of the work is Adams's negotiation of how those pieces fit together. There's a lovely tension between how the artist supposes the elements of the scene should connect and how the elements of the scene actually connect—a sort of discord that allows a shadow to be a shadow as well as one person's interpretation of a shadow.
“My paintings are vignettes of where I've been,” Adams said, conscious of the idea that location is as much physical as it is mental.