Robert’s sketchbooks reveal how he worked on several ideas at the same time. He often placed studies for different works side by side, as if considering how one picture extends, contrasts or complements another. This page, from the “Accident” series,
Beside two studies for his drawing, Chemotherapy and Christ, Robert has jotted down two lists of ideas for future paintings, as well as a list of chapters for his book, Illness & Healing. The finished book dispenses with these chapter divisions so
Robert places a figure inside and outside a simple rectangular box to suggest ideas of entrapment. The Study for Phone Booth uses symmetrical elements: the booth is placed in the centre of the composition with the two sides of the box serving
In the top sketch, Robert recreates a moment from his 1986 cancer treatment at St. Margaret’s Hospital in Toronto. His mother Isabel accompanied him on this trip. Below this, Robert returns to the exterior view of the VG hospital in
Over six sketchbook pages, Robert developed ideas for a poster for a university conference on “the future of food production.” Here are two of those pages. Robert started with a list of possible ideas, all revolving around the concept of future
Robert develops a sketchbook idea involving cityscapes, cars and a mirror. The car’s rear-view mirror creates a frame-within-a-frame, with the mirror showing the parallel lines of a city street converging in the distance; outside another set of lines converge. Viewed
Robert moves in a new direction with this sketch, applying the theme of his art college graduating exhibition, “Oppositions,” to his own life and experience. No longer an academic exercise, but a scene from life, recording the region where Robert grew up.
The notes at the top of the page refer to Ted Rosenthal, a poet diagnosed with Leukemia at age 30. The poet is best known for a meditation called “How could I not be among you?” In this work, Rosenthal
This sketchbook page focuses on waiting patients interacting with their friends and families. Robert’s marginal notes describe details of clothing. In his first sketch of a patient and friend, it was ambiguous who was the patient and who was the friend.
In the sketches on this page, Robert works through two metaphors for his painting, The Lavishness of My Feelings. The first metaphor, a woman poised between love and death, comes by way of artist Edvard Munch. The second metaphor makes reference