Artist of the Month: Gayle Madeira

L.B. (above; watercolor, 10×14) by Gayle Madeira was an Animal/Wildlife finalist in the 26th Annual Art Competition. Madeira is our February 2010 Artist of the Month.

Residence: New York City


Her start in art: Growing up on a farm in Virginia, I wasn’t allowed to watch TV. My mother liked to paint, so in place of TV, my brother and I learned to make paintings around the farm. In high school, I had a wonderful art teacher named Mrs. Ackerman. Her words still ring in my head as a constant mantra: “Paint what is there, not what you think is there.”

I went to the School of Arts at Purchase College (part of the State University of New York) but studied dance, not art. I gained a solid understanding of composition and design for dance and later realized that the concepts are identical in painting. As an adult I’ve studied in New York City at the Art Students League, the School of Visual Arts and, most recently, at Grand Central Academy. Although I’ve been painting and drawing my entire life, I only started showing my art in shows and galleries eight years ago.

I have three paid professions: Painting, performing and choreographing dance and software testing. They’re all modular and flexible. I find that they access the same concepts of composition and design from slightly different directions.

Styles and process: I work primarily in watercolor on paper and claybord. I’m a realist painter and mainly do portraits. I work from life and from photos—I particularly depend on photos when animals and children are involved. My main palette is sepia, raw umber, burnt umber, raw sienna, burnt sienna, yellow ochre, ultramarine blue, cerulean blue, quinacridone purple, cadmium red, cadmium lemon yellow, ivory black and titanium white.

About this painting: The eyes of a subject are the biggest inspiration for me. The stark, dramatic coloring of this particular cat was also an inspiration, and the cat was very playful. I typically work on paintings for about 40 hours; this painting took 30.

With L.B. I discovered that, after I finish main coloring and details of the eye, if I lay down titanium white over it, it gives the filmy impression of a cornea. In many watercolor classes, students are told not to use white or black, but I think artists should constantly experiment and find out what they like.

The name of this painting is an acronym for Little Bastard. Anyone who’s had a young animal (and a dry sense of humor) will understand why the kitten was called that. But according to his owners, he grew up to be a very sweet cat, but the name stuck.


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