How would you describe yourself in a short paragraph?
I am a professional artist and art tutor living in Sussex. I was trained at Chelsea College and graduated with a fine art degree from Brighton in 1983. I sell paintings both on-line and in galleries throughout the South East and teach art both privately and for Central Sussex College adult education.
What is your motivation for painting?
If you live among civilised people, you are continually obliged to follow rules. You have to stick to speed limits, you have to be nice to people even when you want to slap them, you mustn’t swear, you must pretend to enjoy weddings and so on. There is nothing wrong with this – it is the only way the human race survives. However, it is unhealthy if you never get the chance to do things YOUR way. Painting (and other forms of creativity) gives you the chance to do things YOUR way. This is what keeps me sane.
What do you aim to capture in your paintings?
When I was 10, I read ‘A Picture of Dorian Gray’ by Oscar Wilde in which Dorian gets his portrait painted. He then proceeds to misbehave and over-indulge in all things without apparently ageing or getting messed up because the painting suffers the damage instead. WHY CAN’T I DO THAT???? I know I can’t because the self portrait I did when I was 19 still looks young and beautiful and a size 12 (sigh…) However, I love the idea of a painting coming to life and this is what I try and make my paintings do. I usually paint things I can’t have. It is my way of being able to have them. I can’t have a tiger for practical reasons but I can have a painting of one. I can’t have Arabian horses or anything with fur because I’m allergic to them. I can’t have a beautiful villa, a Lamborghini and my own Caribbean Island because I am rubbish at making money. But I can have paintings of them.
What is your favourite painting?
One of my favourite paintings is ‘The light of the World’ by William Holman Hunt. It is a painting of Jesus knocking on the door of an old cottage in a wood. Even though I am not a Christian it is impossible not to be moved by a desire to step into the painting and open the door for him. This is the power of painting. I like that.
What category would you put your art into?
Equine, wildlife, Impressionist, contemporary and hopelessly untrendy!
How long have you been an artist?
Since I was 3 and Rolf Harris first asked me if I “know what it is yet?” on our new fangled black and white TV.
Tell us about your first attempts to be creative.
Felt pens were invented when I was little and I used to colour in every newspaper, magazine and 10 pound note I could find. Then my dad, getting tired of this, bought me some animal and horse books and lots of paper and pens and I taught myself to draw by copying from these books. It started there.
How many hours a day do you create?
It would average about 3 a day – more than that and I start getting slap dash and mess up what I’ve done – less than that and I get frustrated that all the colours I have carefully mixed on my palette get wasted. I hate wasting paint.
How did you pick your creative medium?
Oil paint is just lovely and I instantly loved the smell, texture, and consistency of it. First intro to it was with ‘paint by numbers’ which aunties and grannies used to buy me – I thought it was wonderful.
How do you recharge when your creativity takes a dive?
I indulge in reckless driving, eating cake, ranting and playing Radiohead until I can’t stand my own whinging any more and get on with painting again.
What do you wish you could do?
Rule the world obviously. (No, really – I’d do it very well…)
What has been your most exciting moment as an artist?
My first sale of a painting worth over £1000 at the Chelsea Open exhibition in 1997 – seeing that red spot on the painting when I’d arrived late and bit drunk was utterly fantastic.
What are your artistic goals?
I would like to be able to just paint or teach while someone else takes care of sales, makes me cakes and does all the crappy jobs I don’t want to do (wouldn’t we all?).
What gives you hope in the world?
That mankind is basically good and that despite what the media would like us to believe, there are a lot of good people doing good things every day – artists, musicians, World Wildlife Fund, Rainforest Trust, Scientologists, Action Aid, Save the Children etc. I support any groups which are making things better.
Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring artists?
1) If you can hold a brush, or sellotape one to a limb, you CAN paint.
2) Totally ignore critics and just listen to people who can teach you technically then do whatever you want with the skill you learn – all else is just opinion.
3) Painting is one of the most therapeutic things you can do – you make the world conform to your rules – if you want to paint cows wearing pink pants and reading the Beano – you go ahead.
4) Learn to draw – simply put – it will help you observe better, will improve your painting and can even sober you up if you are drunk (yes I have tried it).
Gill is showing her work in Hove as a part of the Artists Open Houses initiative during every weekend and bank holiday in May. She is exhibiting with several other artists from 11.00-5.00 at 33 Worcester Villas, Hove BN3 5TA (more details at http://www.aoh.org.uk).