Pat Gilmore | Artist of the Month

Reflections (acrylic on board, 9×12) by Pat Gilmore

Pat Gilmore • The Artist’s Magazine‘s December 2011 Artist of the Month

Hometown: Vista, California


Early Art Years and Education

I started drawing cartoons and nature when I was about five years old. I’ve loved animals my entire life. I developed a stronger interest in the arts as I entered high school where I began to experiment with paint, clay, and pencil.

Art and My Life

I create art part time. I do about five or six shows locally each year. My other occupation is working at The San Diego Zoos Safari Park. I guide and drive tours that go into expansive field exhibits that replicate natural habitats from around the world. I luckily get to observe wild animals daily.

Genre and Media

I work mainly in acrylic on clay board which is a smooth gesso based surface that helps attain fine detail. Currently, wildlife and connections to Native American culture are strong themes in my work.


This piece was inspired by a trip my wife Aimee and I took to Colorado in 2007. We were driving along a beautiful mountain stream at an altitude of about 7,000 feet near Colorado Springs and my wife spotted this amazing reflection in the water. At first, we thought it was a beaver, but after zooming in closer we came to the conclusion that it was a muskrat grasping a cattail branch. I was able to take a quick photo right before the animal dove back into the water.

As I created the work, the reeds and the cattails were a challenge as well as allowing the viewer to really get the feeling that there was a lot of vegetation underneath the water and making that look realistic. My favorite was painting the muskrat and his reflection which I saved for last. Often times, I will paint the entire back round and then drop in the subject. That is what I did in this piece.

My Work Process

Most of the time I work from a variety of reference photos and memory from the actual moment as seen in the wild. The painting Reflections was created right off the photo I took. The reflection of the muskrat was brought out more intensely by using a combination of browns in the animals coat. In many cases, I create my own backgrounds and light sources. Often times, the day is overcast so if the piece warrants light I will choose a direction for the light to go. As far as colors go, I use five to ten. I do try to mix as many as possible to get the correct accuracy, but I must confess there are so many colors available in today’s market I find myself mixing less than I use to. My palette includes: white, oxford brown, yellow ochre, burnt umber, paynes grey, raw sienna, ultra marine blue, and black.

I spend about forty to sixty hours on small pieces and hundreds of hours on larger ones. I get that question quite often and I have to tell you that I really want to capture the spirit of the subject and or scene. Whatever it takes to accomplish that goal. This piece took about fifty hours.


Other great artists such as Robert Bateman, Daniel Smith, and Flemish/Dutch painters that captured amazing detail of animals years ago. I’m also very moved by the beauty of nature, the awesome people that compliment and support my work at art shows, my family and friends and the process of creation itself. Each new piece is challenging and exciting and you are the only one who has the final say of what you want to convey. That is an amazing gift that I’m very thankful I can share.

My mom and dad always told me to do what you love to do. Use your talent! It took me a while to realize what they meant. Now I pinch myself from time to time with a chuckle and thank them for their advice.



Artists of the Month are chosen from the list of finalists of The Artist Magazine’s Annual Art Competition.

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