In preparation for featuring this artist's wonderful watercolors at Second Saturday this weekend, we asked Gabrielle to tell us a bit about herself. Below are her words:
"My mother and father recognized my artistic abilities and creative imagination growing up in the south suburbs of Chicago. I've drawn and painted all my life. My influential mentor, a neighbor down the street, gave me drawing lessons, though I was so young, I do not remember her name.
I was a tomboy, the first girl to be in the boy's little league. I remember cutting my long hair off so as to blend in and not be teased. All through high school, spending the whole afternoon in art class was the only way to keep me going to school. I worked different jobs and always had a painting going at home.
I attended the American Academy of Art, Chicago, long before the use of computers, where commercial art school lessons taught perspective, technical drawing and lay out by hand. I believe my attention to detail and use of colors is a product of the intricate lessons received at the academy. Watercolors are my favorite medium, as it is bright, clean and flowing.
I left Chicago yearning to go west, ending up in Idaho, Alaska, then Utah, Montana and New Mexico. The natural beauty of the west, the mountains and landscape continue to influence the subjects I paint. In my early 20's, I entered into the Anchorage juried art show and won best of show. From that, a career in painting commissioned works began and I became quite well known. It was also a very dark time for me making the mistake of marrying a horrible and abusive man. I left Alaska and continued to paint while working as a bartender and waitress.
In 2000 I attended the San Juan College in Farmington, NM. where I entered the vocational building trades program. Learning all aspects of building houses sparked an interest in working with wood as a finish carpenter. I met my husband during that time and he gave a scroll saw. He has always encouraged me to continue my artistic endeavors through good times and bad and he is my biggest fan. I love working with wood and self taught the art of intarsia. Since then I go back and forth between painting and wood work.
Upon moving to Texas, I joined the Galveston Art League and my focus shifted to tropical subjects as I was fascinated by all the beautiful plants that never grew in the areas of previous years. I entered a poster competition for the 100th year celebration of the Hotel Galvez , which I won with my entry of “Starry Skies Over the Gulf”. I have been represented in art galleries in Galveston, Rockport, The Woodlands and currently the Art Connections Gallery in La Grange, Texas.
My favorite artist is Claude Monet, "The Artists Garden at Giverny" my favorite piece. Gardening is my biggest hobby which turned into a full time dedication when I joined the Farmers Market in Magnolia, Texas. I named my booth “The Artists Garden” and I raised and sold vegetables, home-canned jams and home baked breads and of course art! I enjoy walking my three big dogs every morning. There have been numerous paintings that I snuck my dogs into the scene including the Hotel Galvez Centennial poster and my newest work, “A Dog Named Boo”."
Renate Kasper is one of our featured artist for this month. We hope that you will enjoy learning about her through her artist statement and our interview of her.
"In looking over my artist's statement, it seemed to reflect a time when everything was 'business as usual'. But that's not the case. Most people would agree that 2020 has brought wild changes to our routines, and this time last year, we would have never imagined what was right around the corner. We've all had to adapt to new ways of doing things. As a result, I find myself having less patience than before. I haven't had the focus to pick up the graphite pencils and work in that medium. Fortunately, I still have enough focus for tedious beadwork. Go figure! Early on, I took pleasure in being told I must stay at home. It was like being given the gift of extra time to be productive. I spent the first couple of weeks in quarantine sewing face masks. Then I got back into beading in a big way.
Additionally, I've also been cleaning, organizing and purging unneeded things from my home. I've heard the same from many others. There seems to be a trend, where we're eliminating excess, and giving the boot to all but the most necessary things, or our favorite stuff. It reminds me of the William Morris quote posted on the front wall of Art Connections Gallery, 'Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.' That's a very personal and subjective statement, but a great metric for all of us to use."
1. Tell us a bit about yourself-where you grew up. Things you like to do besides your art. Interesting tidbits.
I grew up in rural western Illinois, in a small town of 1500 people, and not really any large cities within reasonable driving distance. As an only child (and the only grandchild), I spent countless hours at my Grandparents house. My Grandmother taught me to crochet and my Grandfather taught me to whittle. We would carve individual chain links from a solid piece of wood. He also let me “steer” the lathe while he operated the other controls. What a treat! My mother taught me to sew, and I must’ve gotten some of my creativity from my father, who built things and taught industrial art at the local high school.
2. Did you start art as a kid or other creative things like music or dance?
I have done art all my life, or as early as I can remember. I also was made to take piano lessons for the majority of my years growing up, which I really disliked. “Someday you’ll thank me”, I remember my mom saying. I began beading very early as well. Those early works were quite crude, as I recall. I even did a simpler version of the macramé process I use now, but in those first bracelets, the ends were just loose threads that the wearer had to figure out how to tie onto their wrist. Those pieces were more about the macramé knots, with very few beads attached. Now, I focus on the opposite effect. I like for the threads and the knots to recede, and the beads take center stage. I have also come down to a smaller scale of work. When I was young, I wanted to finish a bracelet in a few minutes. Now it takes all day to complete one bracelet, and if it’s a double-reversible one, it can stretch into two days.
3. When did you start to paint or make jewelry?
I always tinkered with beads, but I remember “officially” doing jewelry for sale with a friend from another small town nearby. Her mother sold antiques, and we would set up our small table in her mother’s booth to show and sell our beaded items.
4. How did you come to choose your medium?
My first recollection of beads was one winter when I found a single red seed bead on the floor in our house. I couldn’t imagine where it came from. I was so excited about it, and asked my mom if I could keep it. Seriously? What good is one tiny bead, not much larger than a grain of salt? Come to find out, one of my Christmas presents that year was a tube of red seed beads and a spool of elastic thread, to make a simple choker. One of the beads had apparently escaped.
5. Who was your most influential mentor? Why? How?
Other than my family members teaching me various crafts, no one really comes to mind as a mentor until I was in college. There was a very influential graphics arts director who taught a couple classes in the university, and I was fortunate to enroll in both of those classes. I learned more from her than any instructor over the years, as she was also running a large agency at the time, and the real-world application came to life, so to speak.
6. Who is your favorite artist? Why?
My favorite artist is French painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau. When I see his work in museums, I can stand and stare at them for a very long time. I appreciate his smooth soft skin tones and the especially real detail of the hands and feet.
7. Where do you get your inspiration for painting or your jewelry or other creations?
When I start a piece of beaded jewelry, say, a bracelet for instance, I will usually have a color scheme in mind. Sometimes that is influenced by a printed piece of fabric, a garment I own, or something I’ve seen in a magazine, etc. Then I get out an assortment of bead bottles, WAY more than I’ll need for this project, but enough to have many choices. I do this to eliminate ALL the beads I have, because it’s necessary to narrow the choices down from many hundreds of different seed beads to about a couple dozen. When I start that piece, I only know which style of bracelet I’ll be making, whether it’s a double reversible one, a 4-in-1 piece, or whatnot. Then as I start, it just takes shape. I usually have no preconceived idea of exactly what I’m going for. It just evolves on its own. At some point, a repetition starts to happen, and from then on, it’s already been decided what I’ll do. And often the repeats will dictate the finished size, so that the beginning and end of the bracelet match. I often make a trial run before I make a custom bracelet. Once the repeats are figured out, and the first “draft” is done, the final bracelet can be altered by stretching or shrinking certain parts, to accommodate a special size that a customer needs.
8. Tell us a bit about your process.
The previous answer pretty much covers that.
9. Toot your own horn. Tell us about awards and honors that you may have gotten in your creative life. Which was the most meaningful?
Well, I haven’t won many awards with my beadwork. I only entered one online contest a few years ago, which required the use of seed beads. It was more-or-less a popularity contest through facebook. I did win, surprisingly, and received a haul of beads as the prize. Yay! But more seriously, I have won numerous awards with my graphite pencil artwork. I’ve kept all my ribbons, but I’m not sure how many there are. I’d say about thirty, ranging anywhere from a few honorable mentions all the way up to a few ‘best of show’ awards. Some of the honorable mention prizes were just the ribbon, but many higher awards included money. The highest honor was a $1500 prize for the most recent Best of Show I received a couple of years ago. That was the most rewarding award to receive, not just for myself, but it was at an event my parents got to attend with me, and they’d never seen me win anything before. It was at the Eisemann Center in Richardson, TX, and not only was the venue a beautiful place, but it was Mother’s Day, and my mom was certainly proud!
10. Please tell us any other info that you think people might like to know about you.
I like to remind people that my jewelry is always one-of-a-kind. I vow never to exactly repeat any of the pieces, and if someone wants something similar to one I’ve already made, but possibly they need it in a different size, I will remake it with several changes, but the overall piece will still look quite a bit like the
Local artist Christine Seubert will be part of the La Grange Art Stroll and Second Saturday Soiree this Saturday. We were able to interview her about her life and her art. Below is her story.
I am intrigued by the color and shapes on some bottle caps and have explored ways to use them. I found that with some of them, I could remove the liner. Without that impediment, I could shape the bottle caps into domes. What to do with them? I don’t like the raw metal edges on skin, so I looked for ways to combine them with other media. First, I made earrings. Then I began exploring other ways to use these domed pieces. Hey, I’m recycling.
I crochet and knit lace, and like the look of ancient Egyptian collars. I began experimenting with cord, fiber, wire, and beads to make neckpieces that incorporate the domed bottle caps. I sketch designs, make the neckpiece, and see if they fit together. Some pieces became cord and beads only.
The current covid climate has influenced some of my color choices. For example, using orange beads on the edge of a green and purple collar. The tiny, gleaming color contrast reminds me of pictures of the corona of the virus.
Tell us a bit about yourself-where you grew up. Things you like to do besides your art. Interesting tidbits.
I grew up in a Navy family and we moved every 2 to 3 years. My husband I continued in that habit for several more years. When we lived in St. Louis, we were active spelunkers. We like to say that we met in a cave. We moved back to Houston in 1980 after two years in London, and have stayed in this part of Texas ever since.
Did you start art as a kid or other creative things like music or dance?
I have always liked making things and dancing. I learned to hula when I was six. In third grade, I won third place in a drawing contest. I was making my own suits in high school. I also taught myself knitting and crocheting around then.
When did you start to paint or make jewelry?
I started painting faces on my art dolls in Houston. I also learned to make wire-wrapped jewelry. Before that I was making costumes for a dance company that I was in.
How did you come to choose your medium?
Which one? I’m always experimenting with something new and I like combining my various interests.
Who was your most influential mentor? Why? How?
I didn’t really have a mentor. The contemporary art tours provided by LOOKING AT ART in Houston were very influential. A group is guided thru 2-3 studios or galleries one evening a week for six weeks. I took the series many times. I heard dozens of artists and curators talk about themselves and the art we were seeing. The art spaces ranged from a bicycle shop to the Museum of Modern Art, Houston. I thought about what I was doing and what they had to say, and I said to myself, “Oh, I’m an artist!” Then I started taking classes at Glassell School of Art.
Who is your favorite artist? Why?
I don’t have a single favorite. I like Georgia O’Keefe, Erté, the Impressionists, and ancient Egyptian art, architecture, and jewelry.
Where do you get your inspiration for painting or your jewelry or other creations?
The bottlecap and collar jewelry is inspired by the ancient Egyptian collars.
Tell us a bit about your process.
I select the bottlecaps by their colors and designs and then try to give them the domed shape. I roughly sketch what shapes I’m trying to produce. I experiment with crocheting techniques and fibers, how they look and how they drape. I use mostly natural plant fibers. I also use coated wire. I’m particular about what touches skin, such as not wanting the metal edge of the bottlecaps touching skin unless the edge has been flattened. After a lot of experimenting, I start combining the different elements.
Toot your own horn. Tell us about awards and honors that you may have gotten in your creative life. Which was the most meaningful?
Having my wearable doll pins and other things for sale at October Gallery in Houston, and participating in the juried art sale at Glassell.