From Mudwimin to Intention Painting: The Abstract Artistry of S. Lee Robinson

Lee Robinson has taken quite a turn from San Francisco post-punk musician to Los Angeles-based abstract artist who has developed a style of painting she has dubbed “Intention Painting”. Robinson’s intention painting involves the writing or drawing of positive words and/or images on the canvas prior to her application of oil-based paint in the creative process. Those words and/or images’ intent provides a positive permanent spiritual connection in the completed painting.

On the eve of her public open studio night at the Keystone Art Space next Saturday, April 29, Robinson recently answered a few questions about her background, her metamorphosis into a more spiritually-inclined artist and her creative process.

What is “Intention Painting” and how did you transition from a broader style of abstract painting to develop this more specific style?

Intention painting is a process I’ve developed where I write, in words and sketches/doodles, on the canvas what I am wanting to attract into my life.  Then I create a painting on top of the intentions, obscuring them in the paint.  In the end, I have a work of art that acts as a talisman for my home. It’s a process that I’ve been practicing only since early 2016.  It can be a more intensely focused beginning to a painting or it can be very loose, but I now always make an intention for the piece before I begin. I realize that sounds like something that artists always do anyway, but this approach has an important spiritual element to it that is very satisfying for me and my patrons seem to resonate with these new paintings.

Describe your evolution from post-punk musician to full time fine artist.

I grew up in musical household and began playing guitar, piano and (toy) drums around five years old.  At 16 I started my first band with a friend and her brother and at 19 went off to college to study at the San Francisco Art Institute and also started the post-punk, all-girl band Mudwimin.  Art and music have always occurred side by side and I still play very loud, abstract noise with my lifelong musical partner Bambi Nonymous whom I formed Mudwimin with in 1986.  I’ve always had an art studio and have painted consistently since 1986.

Why did you relocate to Los Angeles?

In 1998, I returned to Los Angeles to be with my family again and to find better work. I was doing wall finishes for designers and selling my art to my mother’s clients. My grandmother had passed and my mom needed me. San Francisco was going through the Dot Com Boom and I had lost both my art and music studio to it. Plus, I just had a romantic relationship end, was working three jobs, got a parking ticket almost daily, had my car broken into…. four times??? The list goes on. The city pushes you away when it’s done with you. It seems to know, even when you don’t that you have outgrown her and should move on. I still visit frequently and maintain many friendships there. It always tugs at my heart and I have found the great loves of my life there!!

How does your experience in the Los Angeles arts community differ from your experience in San Francisco?

I have found that my San Francisco music and art connections have yielded way more soul and that’s what really drives me: soul, guts and love.  Don’t get me wrong, I have made many wonderful connections here and continue to. I’ve just secured a large studio at Keystone Art Space downtown near the Brewery and there are so many great artists there!  It’s real community and has its own formal gallery space.  Also, I know several people there from my San Francisco music days so how’s THAT for serendipity!

S. Lee Robinson Keystone Art Space Open Studios Night (Space B6) pre-event preview:

The Keystone Art Space Open Studios – Spring 2017, 338 S. Avenue 16, Los Angeles, 90031  (for those that visited Keystone when it was on San Fernando Road, this is their new location):

You can read more about Robinson and contact her at her website:

All images by Judy Ornelas Sisneros. All rights reserved.

Judy Ornelas Sisneros

About Judy Ornelas Sisneros

I am a native Californian, born and raised in Bakersfield and eventually escaping to San Jose then San Francisco where I spent every free moment in punk and post-punk culture spaces before heading to LA permanently in 1989. I have also spent major time as an AIDS and queer street activist, which today along with my passion for punk/alternative music still informs my personal and social life. I love photography, film and playing punk/post-punk stuff on the bass. My LA Beat contributions are usually photos that give a glimpse into the vibrant art and music scene that makes Los Angeles such an amazing city to live in today.
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1 Response to From Mudwimin to Intention Painting: The Abstract Artistry of S. Lee Robinson

  1. shugra says:

    Thank you Judy for the great interview!!!! I loved speaking with you and hope to see you at my shows in the future. Xo S. Lee

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