Featured Artist Gillian Bedford
Interview by Glynis Raisch
I recently talked with artist Gillian Bedford about her involvement with our collective and the things that inspire her…
“Our memberd encourage me to create art for shows and I enjoy getting to know the artists especially in smaller settings like our art business meetings and our Holiday Shows.”
Glynis: Where did you grow up?
Gillian: I spent most of my life around Bryn Athyn, PA. Growing up going to the church school encouraged my creativity. I also loved playing in the woods and fields every day. I had a somewhat sheltered childhood, but in a good way. We grew up doing lots of outdoor creative play and indoor projects including drawing, doing plays, and making things all the time.
Where did you go to school?
After attending the Academy of the New Church Schools, I transferred to Tyler School of Art. I started out majoring in jewelry and ceramics, but I wanted to use color more and what I was doing didn’t sing to me. Jim Wilson and Margo Margolis then convinced me to go into painting, and I haven’t looked back.
I have two children. My family occasionally will give me an art critique or come down to my studio to see what I’m up to. They have always been supportive of my art work. When my kids were young they would make fairies with me. Occasionally my younger daughter, Michelle (22 yrs) will create in my studio still, and it is fun. My older daughter, Amara (24 yrs) lives in Santa Fe and is in graduate school studying Art Therapy.
What is your process or inspiration?
Usually I work from some kind of photograph or a magazine clipping as a source. This reference is just a starting place for me. I don’t have a planned out vision of each step or of what the painting will look like. It’s much more of a creative exploration that takes hold of me and tells me when it is done. Also, for about ten years I did plein air painting in Pennypack Park. Now I’m experimenting with old canvases that are unfinished and bringing them to completion. Often, it is the composition or the colors that I am changing. I’ve been doing this to many paintings for about half a year. As far as themes in my work… I do all different kinds of paintings, some are sad and other more recent paintings focus on beauty or humor.
I actually don’t see myself as an Impressionist, although some people have labeled me that way. I would put myself in the camp of the Expressionists. More than being interested by the changing light on a subject, I care deeply about the emotion my work creates and about expressing what is inside of me. When I paint it is actually a sort of therapy! Among many other artists, my favorites are Marsden Hartley for his emotionally charged landscapes and still life paintings, David Hockney for his use of colors, and Marc Chagall for his colors and his imaginary scenes and subjects.
What can we look forward to seeing from you in the near future? What are you working on now?
I have various art shows coming up. I will be featured at the Keswick Café the month of June, the biennial show at Cheltenham Center for the Arts in September, and at a two person show about “Transitions” at Orchard Artworks in October. I also have a solo show in the winter at Bryn Athyn College.
In the future expect some playful pieces, some work about passing from this life to the next, and many reworked pieces that have taken on a whole new life. Probably within the year I will have a home show with some of these paintings as well as a new medium I’m trying which is fusion stained glass. I have always wanted to try this out because I love the stained glass of Marc Chagall.