All pieces by 29 year old artist Gabrielle Rose have left us at Zeum irrevocably spellbound. A great contrast lies in her works by way of the amazing attention to detail and intricacy plainly evident in her ink drawings, and the genuine spontaneity in her use of watercolors. A great love for and admiration of nature and the eerie and fantastical can be seen in Gabrielle’s gallery, and we feel genuinely blessed to have stumbled upon it. We believe that the ability to let your materials play out, and later responding to, and expanding upon them in kind; is the mark of a truly great artist. Gabby is definitely one to watch with her lovely and unique creations, that are full of light and beautiful natural colors. And to those of you in search of wonderfully profound and whimsical works, trust us when we say to look no further than Gabrielle’s stunning collection of works!
Your ink and watercolour pieces are so strikingly beautiful! When creating figures and scenes in these two mediums do you do preliminary sketches before hand, or do you generally just respond to the way your watercolours set and go on from there? Please walk us through your process!
I do a combination of both those things. I really enjoy watching watercolor spread out on paper so I’m often too impatient to start with a pencil sketch. For pieces of this nature, I first wet the watercolor paper with a large brush. Then I load a brush with pigment and apply it to the wet area. The pigment spreads out into organic, watery shapes. Sometimes I tease a more defined shape out of this blob using the paintbrush. Once it dries I might draw around or on top of it. Then if necessary I add more paint. The key is not to fuss with it too much or it gets muddy!
For more developed illustration pieces I usually do begin with a pencil sketch. Then I add flat, light color areas. When those dry I add darker colors in layers until I achieve the look I want. Finally I’ll add ink lines and erase visible pencil lines. Again, the trick is to let the paint move naturally on the paper. Overworking it ruins the transparent, liquid effect of the watercolor.
Describe your work in three words.
Ethereal, mysterious, organic.
Can you tell us any songs and/or stories that you feel have been particularly influential to the creation of any of your pieces?
I’ve liked fairy tales since I was young, and a fairy tale atmosphere pervades my work. We had a book of Grimm’s fairy tales in my house growing up, and I often took it off the shelf to look at its illustrations and read the stories. My dad also used to read Tolkien to us for bedtime stories, so fantasy literature is an important influence on my work as well.
I like lots of different music so it’s hard to pinpoint just a few songs that have been inspirational. I was obsessed with The Knife’s album Tomorrow, In a Year when it came out, not only because it was musically beautiful, but also because the concept and its execution—a musical, collaborative work based on Darwin’s On the Origin of Species combining opera, bird sounds, and electronic music—resonated with me. I tend to depict human figures merging with nature, so the album, with its combination of music and nature themes, just made sense to me.
Tell us a little bit about the materials you generally use.
For the most part I use watercolor (Prang, in a tray) and ink in my work. I use the ink both for line drawings and for washes. I paint everything on sturdy watercolor paper, usually in watercolor block form. I use dip pens to make my ink drawings. I have three paint brushes in heavy rotation—a large round, a slender, medium round, and a tiny one for details. That’s it. Pretty simple.
List five things that fascinate you.
Animals, human bodies, the physics of pigment in water (I’m not just saying that), language, and I’m having a hard time thinking of a fifth. Maybe religious iconography.
What is the best piece of art advice that you have ever received?
Practice. Practice, practice, practice. It seems very obvious, but I think creatives can be tempted to wait around for their muse to appear before starting to work. The best advice I got was to paint or draw all the time, even if I don’t feel like it, even if I’m feeling uninspired. That’s the only way to improve.
How did you first become interested in producing your own art?
Since I was a kid I’ve enjoyed drawing, but I think the ability to post my art online and get feedback from lots of people is what spurred me to eventually create an art blog and a print shop. I don’t know that I would’ve tried to get my art up in physical places (galleries, stores) if I didn’t first have a positive response from people online.
What artists [of any medium] do you admire? And why?
I admire many artists of the Golden Age of Illustration, such as Kay Nielsen and Aubrey Beardsley. I definitely admire artists working in media that I don’t work in—oil painters, sculptors. I especially admire artists with a strong work ethic (maybe that’s all of the great ones), like my brother-in-law David Rose, who makes electronic music. He goes to his day job and then goes home and makes music. He collaborates with others to enrich his work, and he’s very driven. I aspire to that.
What is the most personal piece that you have created?
All my artwork is personal, but probably the most meaningful work would be a series of pieces for a project about childhood fears. Lots of dark masses oozing out of a young boy’s heart. Maybe I’m most afraid of what’s within me.
What do your pieces mean to you, and what emotions and/or thoughts do you hope to transmit to your audience through them?
Nearly every piece is an attempt to visualize an otherwise indescribable or hazy sense of dread or worry or awe. I hope to transmit something of these emotions to the viewer, and to make them question what it is about the piece that provokes these in-between or vague emotions.