Collection: Artist: Gail Sauter

  • I’ve lived for extended periods of time in Italy, England and Japan, and recently moved to Asheville, North Carolina from coastal Maine. My work reflects the influences of all those cultures – especially their vitality, timelessness, serenity and ruggedness.

    I’m a keen observer of the world around me, collecting the day’s tiny treasures - moments of fleeting beauty, such as a quick splash of sunlight or a wash of delicate shadow. I’m also a colorist and a choreographer of nuances, weaving together gestural brushwork and thick paint, sometimes adding a touch of whimsy to the mix. 

    Although my work is triggered by direct observation, the paintings are developed from my memories. They are not depictions of what I see, but, rather, interpretations painted from the after-image that remains in my mind’s eye as I work. This process allows me to shake free of the details and dance between observation, memory, and invention, to develop color harmonies, to expand my original experience, and to embroider upon it, creating a symphony that celebrates daily glimpses of the extraordinary.

    I made a conscious decision, at the age of 10, that I would be an artist, and, more specifically, a painter. Somehow, it was very clear to me that this would be my path in life, and I’ve been traveling along it ever since. My father was a professional photographer, so I grew up appreciating the beauty of the world around me. My mother hand-tinted his photos. She used to save her leftover paints for me at the end of her day, and I would come home from school and use them up. My grandmother gave me everything I needed to be able to work in oils when I was in sixth grade, and I sold my first painting at age 17.

    My university training was as a non-objective abstract artist. After graduation, I felt the need to incorporate representational elements in my work. I was living in Naples, Italy, and my 4 years there allowed me repeated access to some of the greatest museums in the world. This served as my own self guided MFA program, and is something for which I am extremely grateful. I moved into the watercolor medium at this time, when my children were small, and I continued to work in it exclusively for the next 10 years. This was followed by a 10 year period of working exclusively in pastels, which I fell in love with while living in England. However, my basic nature is to feel more expressive with a brush in my hand and, ultimately, my path brought me full circle back to the medium of my youth - oils.

    Working Process
    It all starts with color for me. Color is like seasoning to food - it is the flavor that makes the dish enticing. So, first off, I decide ‘what I’m hungry for’ and I grab random tubes of paint that seem to fit that flavor/color profile. They are never the same tubes of paint from painting to painting, or even from day to day within the same painting construction.

    Secondly, I search my memory for an idea to hang my color concept on. I do take plenty of photographs when I am out and about, but they serve only as memory jogs for compositional ideas. My greatest source of inspiration remains my own visual experiences and my memories of them.

    When I begin to work, I use the great capacity of oils to move from thin, transparent washes reminiscent of my watercolor days, to opaque strokes of thick impasto paint, reminiscent of my work in pastels. I continue to build my surface with lots of scraping, layering and gestural brushwork in order to create the light effects I find so entrancing. I intend my paintings to work on many levels, and the variety of my paint handling is of equal importance with the light and subject depicted. They are all held within the world I create through the poetry of color.

  • Artist:  Gail Sauter