Art Superstar

That Artist Woman

Get creative with #ArtSuperstar Gail from That Artist Woman!

Gail Bartel
Calgary, Canada
Artist and educator

Have you always been creative and what’s the earliest work you can remember creating?

Creating art was always my favourite activity. I remember painting a life sized self portrait in Grade 1. I loved every minute of it, from lying on the floor while my fellow classmate traced around my body to trying to match the paint colours to my clothes. I was hooked.

What's your studio like and how do you keep organised?

My studio is currently in the basement of my house until one of my kids moves out. I have like a million lights in there and tons of stuff. Because I teach so many workshops I have to have class sets of all my tools. I keep everything in clear plastic bins and label everything. I have file cabinets with all my reference photos, templates and lesson plans. I have shelfs lining every available space and they are full! I always find those magazines featuring these amazing clean, sparse and fully organized studio spaces hilarious as no working artist lives that way. It's all an illusion.

Where do you look for inspiration?

Nature is my main inspiration. I live in the foothills to the Canadian rockies and I see those Mountains everyday. Colour is also a big inspiration and I travel quite a bit.

Whats in your pencil case / camera bag?

Staedtler pre sharpened HB pencils, a retractable eraser, permanent ink fountain pen, black and white china markers, assortment of Faber-Castell PITT pens in all colours and sizes, Prismacolour pencil crayons, several (by that I mean excessive) watercolour travel tins filled with half pans of watercolour paint that I fill myself, I have palettes for different seasons and locales that I travel to repeatedly, Princeton "Neptune" watercolour brushes.

Any tips for someone suffering from creative block?

Work small, start by making thumbnail sketches of just value contrasts in different combinations. Add a bit of colour with a limited palette of watercolour and see where it takes you. I also find it beneficial to do warm-ups in my nature journal of animals and plants from reference photos.
I keep a sketchbook planner where I write down every idea I have for a possible painting or project, sometimes they are on sticky notes or taped in scraps of paper. I will sketch them out or paint quick studies. When I am stuck I'll go back and read through them.....I always have more ideas than time.

Do you do any other crafts and what are your hobbies?

I like working with textiles when I need a break from teaching art or painting. I sew, do needlepoint, embroider, weave, etc.
I love to cook and read.

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Gail Bartel
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What's your favorite...

TV Show
Project Runway
Imagine Dragons
Lawrence of Arabia
Magazine / Book
International Artist
Alvaro Castagnet, Stephen Quiller, Joseph Zbuvic, Ian Roberts, Herman Pekel
Tool or Product You Couldn't Live Without
watercolour paper