One on One with Gayle Garner Roski A Portrait of an Artist (Part II)
Gayle Garner Roski is a Toluca Lake resident artist, patron and philanthropist. Ms. Roski is a native Angeleno who attended USC School of Fine Arts. She is a Commissioner of Cultural Affairs for the City of Los Angeles, an artist and board member of the California Art Club, a member of the Valley Watercolor Society and has been a chairman for the Public Art Angel Project. On November 18, 2009, “My World,” a retrospective show of Ms. Roski’s paintings, will be at the Creative Art Center in Manhattan Beach. For more information, visit gaylegarnerroski.com.
If you missed part one, “One on One with Gayle Garner Roski—A Portrait of an Artist” can be read online at www.tolucantimes.com.
Adréana: How do you describe your style of painting?
Gayle: I’m an illustrator. I do a lot of still lifes and enjoy that. To some people, an illustrator is a second-class citizen to an artist but to me, illustration is about stories, and I think that everything I do has a story.
Adréana: Can you tell me about the books you have illustrated?
Gayle: I am currently finishing a USC cookbook “lUSCious” due in print in October 2009. Another book, “Mei Ling in China City” has just been published by East West Discovery Press. It is a true story about a friendship between a Japanese-American girl, Yayeko, and a Chinese-American girl, Mei Ling, who both grew up in China City, Los Angeles. The Japanese girl and her family were sent to an internment camp at Manzanar in 1942. Yayeko wrote letters to her friend about her internment experience. Sadly, after the war ended, Mei Ling never heard from her friend. However, since the publishing of the book, we were able to reunite the women, (now in their eighties). I am also working on another children’s book that is being timed for the opening of a new dinosaur hall at The Natural History Museum.
Adréana: Can you describe some more about your style?
Gayle: I’ve been told that I’m a primitive artist and sometimes I am. I do figurative work. I work exclusively in watercolor. Watercolor is magical. Once I discovered the medium, I fell in love with the beautiful colors, and the fact that it dries instantaneously. A lot of people don’t think of watercolor as a serious art form. Many artists refuse to use it because they have a hard time selling. It certainly takes as much effort as oil. It’s just fun. Plus, it’s a shift in your brain; in watercolor you’re painting light to dark. In oil, you’re working dark to light.
Adréana: What artists inspire and influence your work?
Gayle: Georgia O’Keeffe and Norman Rockwell. You can see both of their influences in my work.
Adréana: Do you have any helpful tips for artists?
Gayle: I honestly believe you can paint anywhere you are. There is always something to capture. I even work on airplanes. I love the book “The Artist’s Way” and follow the 12-step program it describes. That book meant so much to me because it was all about opening up to creativity. I like to perceive things being open and unafraid. I really believe in opening yourself up—being really honest with yourself and others.
Adréana: What is your secret of success?
Gayle: It’s all an attitude; it’s the one thing we can control. I am married to a marine who taught me to put one foot in front of the other. I always have ideas planned out. The idea is to get into a rhythm with your work; art puts you into a meditative state, but you first have to put one foot in front of the other (like running the marathon) to get to the finish line.
Adréana: How did you get involved in public art?
Gayle: It started with the Cardinal who asked me to be part of the arts and furnishings commission. I was involved in selecting the artists for the cathedral Our Lady Queen of The Angels. We now have exhibits several times a year.
Adréana: Why is public art important to you?
Gayle: Public art has a life and a breath of its own. When we put non-permanent art out there, an artist becomes an integral part of the city. One of the things I’m deeply troubled about is that the city has stopped acquiring murals. Part of the battle is signage. The other is graffiti. Taggers have ruined our murals and the city will not correct the problem. Our murals are an important expression of our multiculturalism. If I had a wish list for L.A., it would be to create more public art on a permanent basis.
Adréana: You are involved with many associations. Can you tell me about The California Art Club?
Gayle: The California Art Club just turned a hundred years old and will be having a centennial celebration. It’s a very interesting group of people focused on promoting fine arts and its cultural heritage. They have a wonderful collection of the first California plein-air painters from the twenties and thirties. There was a huge movement back then. Unfortunately impressionistic painting went out in the forties and fifties. I believe in plein-air painting and being outdoors and allowing things to move your soul. Last week, a group of plein-air artists from the California Art Club visited Bunker Hill, on California plaza, with all the fountains. We painted models dressed up in costumes from L.A. Opera’s upcoming production of Richard Wagner’s “Ring Cycle.” It was a truly inspiring setting. Our paintings will be exhibited in May 2010 at the Cathedral Our Lady Queen of the Angels. That will be timed with the production at the L.A. Opera of “The Ring” that opens in May 2010.
Adréana: How does the creative process work for you?
Gayle: I like Edgar Cayce’s writings on creativity. He describes the creative process as a pattern, a cycle, and if you’re always stuffing it into a closet, or if you have to guard it, you will not be able to open up to the creative spirit. It’s important to go deep inside of yourself to find your own creative source—and then be willing to let it go. Some people have a problem with letting it go. It can be especially difficult for emerging artists when they have to face public opinion for the first time. But an artist has to go through this process and then return to the creative source again. Real creativity is in the discovery. And, every time you go back to that source, you feel richer and more alive. Painting is the greatest gift I can give to myself. It set’s one’s soul free.
Adréana Robbins is an author, freelance writer and director of public relations for the Tolucan Times. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.