Toronto-based artist Gail Blima uses the power of language to make a statement and draw out emotion. First introduced to art at a very young age by her father, he taught her about shading, perspective, and landscape compositions. We interviewed Gail to learn more about her practice, inspirations, and what she is working on today.
1. How does your creative day look like and what inspires you to make art? Has your creative day changed due to Covid-19?
Everyday to me is a creative day. If I’m not in my studio I am thinking about my next painting. I’m inspired by everyday life. I see a phrase on someone’s t-shirt and I jot it down on my phone. So often I say, “I should make a painting with that”. During Covid, my days changed because I wasn’t going out very much. I actually spent more time in my studio and found inspiration from within.
2. Tell us more about your art studio.
My art studio has evolved over the years. It’s an in-home studio, which means it was at one point my son’s bedroom. He was away at university so I moved in my easel and paints and eventually moved out all his furniture and bed to create my own haven. I’m surrounded by art and everything I need to create. I have a television and a lazyboy chair when I need a break and my computer to stay connected. I love my space; I spend many hours a day in it and really feel it reflects my personality.
3. How did you first get interested in your medium?
I first got interested in mixed media when I was on a trip with my husband and we saw a mixed media painting with words. I said to him, “I could do that”. When I returned home my first attempt was laughable, words were crooked, the background was bumpy, basically, an epic fail. It always looks easier than it really is. I spent a lot of time perfecting my technique and am constantly adding to it. For instance, I started using resin and went from using canvases to wood panels.
4. Describe your style in one sentence.
I am a mixed media artist who uses the power of language to make a statement and draw out emotion.
5. Has your style changed over time?
My style is constantly changing. At first, I primarily used newspaper comics and words. Then I started working with superhero comics. I started to use resin to finish off pieces and now I have added figures to my paintings, sometimes with words, sometimes without.
6. What are your main artistic tools?
My main artistic tools are acrylic paints, wood panels, paintbrushes, newspapers, comics, recipes, game cards (basically anything I can glue down) and glue.
7. Do you ever experience creativity blocks and how do you stay positive and inspired?
I can’t say I’ve ever really experienced a major creativity block. At the beginning of Covid, I found it harder to get motivated but it passed quickly. I try hard to keep a positive outlook and love it when clients comment on the uplifting nature of my work. I think that keeps me going.
8. What artists - either contemporary or from history - have had an impact on you and your art practice?
My all-time favourite artist from history is Van Gogh. I have loved his work and style from my first introduction to his work in high school. I spent hours and hours in his museum in Amsterdam and they practically had to throw me out of there. It sounds hokey but his work just speaks to me. Other contemporary artists that I currently follow are Mel Bochner, Paul Rousso, and Jane Waterous. They all have different styles but they inspire me to try new things and go beyond my comfort level.
9. Do you think the art world has changed or will be changing due to the pandemic? If yes, how?
I do think the art world has changed due to the pandemic. So much has been moved online and people are spending a lot of time at home and are tired of looking at blank walls. What better way to add positive energy than to add a beautiful piece of art.
10. What project are you working on right now? What would you like to do next?
Right now I am working on some new pieces for my music collection. I started adding lyrics to the canvas and then painting the musical artist over it. I’ve done David Bowie and Bob Marley so far. Next, I would like to do my favourite, Sting from the Police. I’ve also started working on some mini panels 6” x 6” which is new for me. Next, I want to start trying acrylic paint pouring for my background.