Dry Dock, 23x36 inches, Gail Siptak
Hill Country, 50x50 inches, Gail Siptak
Lost Voyage, 36x36, Gail Septak
Gail Siptak is an on line friend of mine who's work I have been following now for a few years. She is living in Houston and showing with the Koelsh Gallery there. She has been painting now for many years and has developed a deep and meaningful body of work. I recently sent Gail a list of questions so that I could learn more about where her paintings come from. I am happy to share her answers with you here.
Gail is art something running through your family or are you more of an anomaly?
It seems to run through although skipping around a bit. My great grandfather was a fine artist and teacher in San Francisco in the 1870's through 1918. I'm happy to be living with some of his landscapes and a big still life. He trooped around the bay area and into the Sierras painting with friends who were also painters and I have a couple of their pieces as well.
My grandfather, different branch, was a professional sign painter in San Francisco from about 1905 until her retired. He worked on scaffolding on large buildings as well as small meticulous jobs. The only time he ever yelled at me was when I was fooling around with his sable brushes in his workshop. He bought me a paint by numbers kit and I was amazed at what one color next to another could do.
Where there early experiences that may have set you on your path to being an artist?
Although my mother was a singer early on, and then a elementary school teacher, she had a wonderful eye for composition and texture. I grew up appreciating what could be achieved in home decorating with burlap, paint, old wood and imagination. My parents had little money, and made our early furniture, and continued their creativity all their lives. And they were supportive of my need to draw and make things from early on.
Can you tell us what are a few of the main rivers of inspiration that flow into your image making?
I veer from figurative narration to nature periodically through out my work. Aside from my intense love of composition and form, I like to mine my human feelings and those of others. Sometimes I get inspiration from something intense going on in my life and sometimes just from what I see someone experiencing...sometimes this is pretty uncomfortable but I think it surfaces in my work.
What do you hope that your artwork will do for the people that own them and live with them?
It seem that people get interpretations of their won lives through my paintings. I hope that anyone living with my paintings finds them enriching in some way. It won't be financial that's for sure....but I hope they love them for a long time. I sometimes worry about my very large paintings that have slipped out of my life. There are some that have gone though a divorce in the house and I don't know what happened to the paintings....or the people for that matter, And some sold in other cities. As the big ones are six by seven feet or more, it is a commitment to take one on it seems to me. One of my largest was stolen. And then I try to remember that, really, once out of my hands, the work is gone, and I need to let it go.
What keeps you going to the studio to make anther painting?
I often like to work in series, then I am very excited to see what wants to come next, how else can I develop their idea. Happily new ideas keep coming from new directions. A couple of years ago, I ha access to the very old wallpaper in a house that was going to be pulled down. I cut some of it carefully off the walls not knowing what I would do with it. After is sat in the studio for a while I knew I wanted to use it in collage on canvas to make some poignant pieces about people living alone. The other reason I keep painting is habit. Someone long ago told me that I should go to the studio every day even if it was just to sweep up. So there are times when I do just that and then the desire to continue overwhelms me and I'm into the next journey.
Who are some of the contemporary artist that you admire?
When I was very young I had a long list of people I admired. I was a bit dismayed at the time that there were so few women artists I could find in the library. I found more later. When I was teaching for a number of years, I carted around piles of art books and spread my excitement to everyone I taught. My favorites at the time were probably Stanley Spencer and Max Beckman. And I loved the gutsy move Philip Guston made when he went from abstraction to narrative painting at a time when it just wasn't done. during much of my time, figurative narrative painting wasn't what was in the magazines or contemporary museums, so I found myself counting on myself. Now that I'm much older, and I see things change all the time, I find that this was a good trail to tread. It works for me.