Typically, flowers only last for so long, but the artist Ronni Nicole Robinson has found a way to stop time. The Philadelphia native, who now lives the country life with her husband David in rural Quakertown, Pennsylvania, creates beautifully composed plaster flower reliefs under the name Ron Nicole. These compositions are reminiscent of traditional Wedgwood china and old-fashioned pressed flowers, but reimagined in her distinctly modern style. How did she find her form—and what keeps her going? Read on to hear all about her—and why she encourages any daydreaming you might be doing about your own creative pursuits.
Q: When did your love of flowers develop?
A: “I’ve been collecting flowers since I was seven years old. I remember taking flowers across the street from my church and pressing them into bibles. I grew up in North Philly. It’s a concrete jungle, but I’d find flowers and press them inside books to save them. I called it stealing from nature.”
Q: How did you come up with the idea to create flower motifs out of clay?
A: “I was at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia when I saw a metal sculpture with a small flower relief in the corner, and that was the aha moment. I studied graphic design, but corporate environments weren’t for me. Then I worked in the resorts and restaurant industries for years, but I needed something else. I’ve always gravitated toward flowers, and when I saw that piece at the museum, I knew that was it.”
Q: And then it was off to the races?
A: “It took me a whole year to pour my first piece. Figuring out how it would all work was hard, but there was also a lack of confidence. When you first start out, it’s easy to compare yourself with other artists. They make it seem so easy. But I found inspiration in my mother-in-law’s Wedgwood Jasperware and thought about how I could do that in my own way. I committed to the process and creating my signature style. I call myself a flower artist. The way I arrange and style each piece is like a traditional floral artist, but I’ve found my own way of expression in my work.”
Q: What prompted your move out of the city?
A: “We moved after taking care of my husband’s mom, who was sick from cancer and passed away. We realized we didn’t want to live in the city anymore. My husband and I were working in restaurants across the street from each other, and that was the most we’d see of each other. When we saw our current home online and drove out to visit, we were met by our neighbor’s alpacas. Ale, the leader of the pack, stared us down, and I knew right then that we had to live here. We moved in May, and Ale and the other alpacas greet us every day now.”
Q: Do you have favorite flowers to work with? Any new ones you’d like to try out?
A: “I love cosmos, clematis, anemones, any delicate flower. One day, I’d love to go to Hawaii or Australia or a country in Africa, stay for awhile, and play with the flowers there. I’d like to play with fruit, too. I haven’t figured it out yet, but I want to get a full impression of an apple. I’ve now done berries, and that was the first time I’d done bulky impressions.”
Q: Do you follow a schedule or have any rituals while in your studio?
A: “I would love to tell you I have a schedule, but I don’t! I don’t work in an organized manner, just how it works best for my circumstances that day. I know this sounds weird, but I listen to Howard Stern. He keeps things funny and light, so I like that. Also, I get into my serious daydreams. I plan what I’m going to daydream about in the studio. I encourage people to daydream because that’s when you can think about anything. The sky’s the limit! And it’s a time to work things out.”