FREDERIC ROBINEAU runs Robineau Patisserie, in Darlington

The Northern Echo: Frederic Robineau painting

Born in the Loire Valley, France, Frederic worked in London before moving up North, where his skills caught the attention of both the Royal family and former French president Jacques Chirac.

The Cockerton patisserie, which he runs with wife Jane, has a reputation for wonderful cakes, chocolate delights, party catering and for serving up delicious meals in the patisserie café. Along with making amazing pastries, Frederic also has a passion for painting.

Tell us about your love of painting?

Just like pastry, it’s all about creativity, colours, shapes and what’s pleasing to the eye. A new pastry always starts with a sketch, followed by a more technical and scientific process. When I start a painting, I’m imagining the whole composition whilst paying attention to perspective and how the light falls on the subject. It’s more of a feeling and I get totally immersed in the process. The plus point is that the painting doesn’t get eaten and can be enjoyed for years to come!

When is your first exhibition?

January 27 to February 7 at The Station, Richmond. It’s about the amazing landscapes of Teesdale; special moments, seasons along the River Tees from Darlington to the moors, all captured in vibrant oil colours. Mainly, there will be original oils on canvas in different sizes and also prints, both framed and unframed. Most of you will have been to visit these landscapes at different times of the year. One of the paintings in the exhibition is all about the oranges, yellows and reds of autumn with beech trees displaying their best performance of the year. Another favourite is ‘Foxglove Orchard’, with white and purple foxgloves rising from the floor of an early summer orchard.

When did you first pick up a paintbrush?

At the Café Royal in London, 25 years ago, when I worked with a French pastry chef Daniel Ferrer, who himself loved to paint. He was the artist in the kitchen, painting on cakes for very special occasions. Daniel is the one who first gave me a paintbrush to ‘have a go’ on a cake. Noticing that the result wasn’t too shaky, he encouraged me to turn to oil paint. My very first painting was of a fisherman from the Loire Valley on a traditional boat. The painting is still on the wall at my parent’s house in France.

How would you describe your painting style?

About six years ago, I stopped using most of my brushes in favour of a palette knife. Perhaps this is where the art of patisserie sits alongside the art of painting! It’s just like spreading different coloured creams to make a picture. Using a palette knife gives more texture, vibrancy and movement to my artworks. The result is a depiction of the landscape or subject true to its original appearance, with movement.

Where is your favourite place to paint?

I love Low Force up near Middleton-in-Teesdale. It’s a place that has everything I need to be inspired; water cascading, flat pools full of reflections, amazing trees that change their guise all year round, and very big skies. The painting I am most proud of is ‘Stream at Low Force’; it’s a mixture of running water in rocks, trees just turning into autumn. I feel like you can almost hear the water tumbling down the rocks.

Who is your favourite artist?

It has to be Claude Monet and if I had a few million in the bank, I would love to own one of his water lily pond paintings. The scale and colours are truly amazing.

  • Colourful Landscapes by Frédéric Robineau, Saturday, January 27 to Wednesday, February 7, The Station, Station Yard, Richmond, North Yorkshire, DL10 4LD
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  • If you are unable to visit Frédéric’s exhibition, his work is on sale throughout the year at his gallery upstairs at Robineau Patisserie, 27 West Auckland Road, Darlington, DL3 9EL.
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