Sit with Me in Paris
In today’s artist spotlight we meet Alabama based artist, Gina Brown. I was first introduced to Gina’s work at the Shain Gallery a few years ago. I’ve always enjoyed seeing new pieces by Gina and this Friday all new work will featured along with three of Gina’s fellow artists at the gallery.
As a lover of all things French, I was delighted to see that Gina featured three Paris inspired paintings in the show along with her signature florals and more. In this interview Gina shares her advice for those new to using oil paint, where she sources some of the florals for her work, and what she loves most about working with the Shain Gallery.
You have a B.A. in graphic design, and worked as a graphic artist and owned a advertising agency. When did you first become interested in art?
I’ve loved creating since I was very young. My parents and grandmother always encouraged me and always called me “their little artist.” I remember my grandmother always having something creative for my sister and me to do or to make — like crochet, needlepoint, hook rugs, paint by numbers, and pot holders. And I remember my parents giving me my first art lessons with the high school art teacher when I was in the fifth grade. Art has always been a part of me, and I’m so thankful my parents always encouraged me, even when I had started college with the intention of becoming a school teacher but came home one day and asked them about changing my major to art.
Your primary medium is oils. What drew you to this particular medium?
For a Christmas gift when I was in high school, my parents gave me tole painting lessons at our local mall craft store. My aunt was making beautiful folk art with wood, and so I would go to her house and we would tole paint together. While we painted, she told me that she thought I would really enjoy painting in oils. At the time, I thought creating an oil painting took months to complete, so I didn’t think I would be interested.
I loved sitting down and quickly creating something to completion. In college I worked with acrylics and some watercolor, but oil paint seemed to intimidate me. I majored in graphic design so I never painted in oils until several years later, when my husband gave me oil painting lessons for Christmas. Little did he know what he was getting himself into! What finally drew me to oil paint? Those words my aunt told me while tole painting… I just kept hearing her say, “Gina, I think you’d really love to oil paint.”
I think that I shall never see
For someone who is new to working with oils, what are you words of advice for working with this particular medium?
Ah I love this question. I tell people that have never painted in oils… that my comparison of acrylic painting to oil painting is like driving on a gravel road to driving on an icy road. It’s scary at first… very slick and all over the place, but you soon learn to love to drive on the ice!
I also tell others to be patient with yourself. Frustration is a good thing. It means you want to do better, to become better. I still get frustrated all the time. But now I’ve learned to embrace the frustration. I know (most of the time) when to take a break from what I’m working on and come back with fresh eyes to work out my painting. They don’t always work out but I learn from them all.
For your floral pieces do you create bouquets to paint and do you source them from your own garden or from local flower shops?
Okay here’s something that may be disappointing to some folks. I don’t have a single flower in my yard. I tried it, but it’s not my gift. However, my parents have gorgeous flowers, and so does my cousin. Also, there is an awesome flower shop in town called Rococo. The owner is fabulous and lets me go to her back cooler to “shop.” I also work from photos, but prefer working from life.
What is your favorite floral to paint?
Oh I can’t answer that. I love so many.
Tell me about the inspiration behind your latest pieces featured at the Shain Gallery.
My inspiration is always hoping to bring others closer to Jesus through my work. I painted most of these paintings during the pandemic, and I hope to show my faith, joy and love in every brushstroke.
As a Francophile, I especially loved Sit with Me in Paris, Tuileries Garden Paris and When in Paris. Have you visited Paris previously, or did you work off of photographs for inspiration?
I’ve only visited Paris through paint. I do hope to go one day. From movies and photos, it seems to be such a romantic fabulous city.
Tuileries Garden Paris
Your latest show at the Shain features floral pieces, nature scenes and architectural scenes from Paris. What is the best part about working on new pieces for a gallery opening?
I think the best part of working on any piece of art is the feeling of accomplishment when it’s done. I share this with others. When God created the world, at the end of each day He looked at His creation and saw that it was good. In Proverbs 31, the wise woman works and sees that her merchandise is good. I think that feeling that we get when we finish a job to the best of our ability is from above.
Out of all of the pieces that you painted for the show at the Shain, do you have a personal favorite?
I don’t have a personal favorite. It’s funny because as my mother and I were looking at them all before the paintings left for Shain Gallery, I asked her which one was her favorite. She couldn’t decide.
When in Paris
What do you enjoy the most about working with Sybil and the ‘gallery girls’?
Kimberly and Kayla are wonderful. Sybil is obviously a great gallery owner. I was so honored when she contacted me three years ago, almost to the day of this opening. I knew of Shain Gallery and I was praying for an additional gallery to contact me. I was teaching a workshop in Atlanta when I got her email and was so excited and thankful.
At the time, Sybil was about to become the owner of the gallery, but I didn’t know that. Sybil loves art and is a hard worker, and she hires hard working, art loving people to work with her. I love how she promotes the gallery and the artists through social media, advertising and shows. I’ve always shared, if someone loves your art, that loves shows and they can sell it.
Gina’s show (along with fellow artists Barbara Davis, Lesley Powell and Amy Sullivan) opens at the Shain Gallery today from 10am-5pm. So if you’re in the Charlotte area, visit the gallery to see Gina’s beautiful artwork in person!