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Gail Burstyn
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An Interview with Gail Burstyn

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We all learn and get inspired from other artists. Gail Burstyn from ‘Life in Splatters’ is one of those artists who inspires us mere mortals by breaking new ground in fluid art. When a swipe doesn’t stop at a ‘swipe’ and becomes a ‘shmear’, a flip cup becomes a thing of real beauty and a flip and drag springs into a mythical creature before your very eyes, you know you are looking at a ground breaking fluid artist.

Funny story (and the absolute truth), whilst taking some banana bread out of the oven, I thought to myself ‘I would love to do a collaboration with Gail’ (but how do I muster up the courage to contact her!!). Well at that precise moment my phone went, and yes it was Gail asking ME to do a collaboration! Fear immediately set in followed by a few sleepless nights (as with all collaborations I’ve done) but I knew that I was about to learn a great deal… why wouldn’t I, even if what I produced was rubbish!

I also persuaded her to answer a few questions (well quite a lot actually), so grab a coffee and gain some insight into someone who inspires us all to stretch that little bit further into finding our own expressiveness in fluid art.

How and when did you burst into fluid art and what was the very first painting that you did?

Late fall 2018 I had a bad spill in the backyard while gardening and broke my tibial Plateau quite badly. Consequently I spent six months in a wheelchair unable to do a great deal of anything. Browsing YouTube in February 2019. I came across a video of acrylic pouring. It was Carol’s Art Room, ‘How to funnel pour with acrylic paint’.
I was mesmerised.. Then I discovered Courtney Hoeschler,  then Annemarie Ridderhoff, Karen Durishin, Gina DeLuca, Ann Osborne, Christine Welch, Heather Mader… so many great teachers.

I was hooked. I watched hundreds and hundreds of videos, making notes, studying. I started collecting materials but still too intimidated by the process. I saw that there was an introductory course nearby and went and did my first 2 pours. They were dirty cup pours, the paints mixed by the instructor, that was it.. the fear was gone.. and I set up my pouring space.

I remember my first few weeks of painting, oh how I struggled with consistency. Nothing was working, muddy… nothing like I was seeing on YT. I nearly quit many times, so frustrated.
Then, one day it just worked. I had the magic consistency. I did a flip cup and swiped over it and it was beautiful… to me at least.

I see that nature and landscapes play a large part in your photography, how does this influence your paintings?
I find I am still drawn to the patterns and textures that I would seek out in my photographs of landscapes, plants and abstracts. I often see landscapes, flowers, birds and I find myself using some of the rules of composition, like the Fibonacci spirals that are part of the architecture of nature, my colour choices are also inspired by the beauty we are surrounded by.

Gail BurstynYou have a distinct style, which I love… how important is it for a fluid artist to find their own identity?
I do believe that it is important to create work that is individual to you, that stands out from others… as uniquely yours. Art is supposed to be original, the individual expression of the artist.

When I started, I needed to learn from others the basic mixing consistencies and techniques. From practising basics like ring pour, dirty poor and simple swipe techniques, I began to experiment more… and began to naturally produce work that is uniquely my own. The more I practiced, the more I learned to have some control over the process. I am thrilled when someone comments: “they knew it was mine before they saw my name”. Your style is a reflection of your design tastes in general.

I have noticed that after I have experimented and create something I love, can I see the resemblance to artists work that I am drawn to. For instance, I have always been drawn to the works of William Morris and his rich tapestries and wallpaper designs. Some of my works that I refer to as tapestry, remind me of his designs.Some of my paintings remind me of cave art and sometimes even my photography background influences composition and colour choices..

I believe it is important to find your own artistic voice.

Your work reminds me of The Art Nouveau period. One of my favourite artists is Alphonse Mucha, who are your favourite artists and how do they influence you?
There are so many artists I admire and whether or not they Inspire my work that’s a tough question. As you know we have very little control over what the paint does but I have managed to be able to work with the paint in such a way to obtain results that resemble elements of nature, Flowers, plants birds… creatures and landscapes.

I am inspired by The Works of William Morris textile and tapestry artist, whose paintings and designs were inspired by the beauty of nature. I am also very fond of the work of Gustav Klimt and of course Vincent van Gogh.  I occasionally see my colour choices reflecting some of these artists works.

Gail Burstyn

Do you do any other form of painting? Still life or portraits?
I have never drawn or painted before, and when I tried, I found I had absolutely no talent for it. Imagine my surprise when playing with fluid paint that I can create beautiful flowers, birds and tapestry like pieces. I knit and crochet, created beadwork, cross stitch, needlepoint, traditional rug hooking, designing pieces and dying my own wool, photography, and now painting. It seems that somehow, the paint is doing all the work, I only manipulate it… a happy partnership.


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