Saturday, 7 December 2013


I started writing this from Dallas, Texas and am now in Arizona; where I'm visiting family and friends, making new friends and clients, and selling the odd painting - always a good thing!

I've been on the road since Nov. 15, so there is no focus on painting at the moment, but on marketing and letting the world know I'm still here.  After an intense 5 days, suddenly moving into action: time to get my beloved horse down to her holiday farm in Wales (a 14 hour trek for her which she did with great aplomb), with only 24 hours to settle her in, then on to London for a night to get to Heathrow and catch a noon flight out to DFW on the 17th; I landed in Dallas and the bosom of my family .  Dad and his wife, Christy live there, and a brother, along with a number of friends - some of which have known me longer than most people.  It has been an incredible, action packed, fun-filled, and bittersweet trip.  As always, when I come to Dallas, an army of friends and family envelope me, glad to see me, and rise to the challenge of introducing me to new friends who perhaps might also become clients and begin to collect my paintings.  For me, first and foremost, I enjoy meeting the people and making new friends.  The painting sales are important, but in the end, always secondary and actually, almost unimportant.  But this is an important side of being an artist; being in the world, and getting support and love from those who care for and know you, and meeting new people - always, meeting new people....  talking about your art and selling it. 

One memorable thing I've done is to attend an exhibition of Edward Hopper's sketches (and process) at the Dallas Museum of Art.  I went with some of my extended family of women (way to complicated for this short missive), and discovered how much more I liked the immediacy of his preliminary sketches as he worked out composition, figures, hands, feet, lighting, and focus before committing paint to canvas.  I loved discussing these things with my family as we wandered through the amazing exhibition.   They really didn't know that I also did much the same thing (as most painters must do) for any painting.  Interestingly, suddenly in the last few months, there has been an interest in my sketches.  I produce them only for me, for my eyes, for my work - not for the general public, so it was a scary thing to photograph them and place them in a portfolio of sorts for some new clients - many of them next to the paintings they were for - and put a price on them.  I attended another exhibition on the 3rd Dec that also is sketches, thus the process of painting,  AND the massive, wonderful portraits in heavily laid on oil paint that depict the artist's family and neighbors in his Ft. Worth neighbourhood.  This exhibition of the work of Sedrick Huckaby at the Valley House Gallery in Dallas was inspiring.  The artist wonderfully unassuming, younger than his years, but wonderfully able to talk about his work; which is unusual.  So many artists find it difficult to speak about their paintings and yet its one of the most important things you can learn outside of the process of creating; the ability to speak about your work. 

Another incredible memory that perhaps one day will find its way into my painting is dancing with my Dad.....  reflecting back to my series Waltz Across Texas, I found myself two-stepping in place with my Dad.  Sadly, he's being taken from us slowly by alzheimers, but for now, he's able to communicate with song and dance  - my own passions which drive my painting, even the landscapes.  In the landscapes I paint, I still feel passion, music, and movement.

The images below are a short illustration for you all of the journey from sketch to finished painting.  The
 sketch for Up Through the Olive Grove... approx. 11 x 16 in., charcoal on paper £200
 sketch for Sharing A Joke, approx. 11 x 16 in., charcoal on paper £200.
 Sharing a Joke, 22 x 18 in.,  oil on canvas, £2,000.00
Up Through the Olive Groves, 16 x 24 in., oil on canvas, sold...

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Gail Wendorf Studio in the "Hotel California!"

"....Last thing I remember, I was
running for the door,
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
"Relax", said the nightman ,
We are programed to receive.
You can check out anytime you like,
But you can never leave!""

Many of us will remember these last lines of the Hotel California, by the Eagles.  Over this past month, I have come to realize just how apt these lines are in describing how I feel about living out this transition phase of my life.  Being an artist, to me, means sometimes embracing the float; waiting and holding on until the next step is under my moving feet.  That has been particularly difficult this last month.  Continuing to put one foot in front of the next, and trusting that I'm not just walking in circles; each door leading back into the room I just left.  And in the middle of it all, keeping something moving on the easel.  Its been slow, painful work.  But I've managed - and the result is below.  I know you'll enjoy this view of St. Agnes, in the Provence Alps Cote d'Azur region of southern France.  I was on my way to Fontan, I believed, when turned away by an avalanche (seriously!), and was forced to stay in the area I had originally planned to end up - seeing new friends at a party I'd been invited to - the beautiful village of St. Agnes, in the hills overlooking Menton on the French/Italian border.  I spent the day walking in the village, exploring the hills, and just absorbing the spirit and soul of this enchanting part of France.  So, here's the first of hopefully many... currently off the easel in the Hotel California (Glenfinnan).

 Old St. Agnes, Provence Alps Cote d'Azur, 16 x 12 in., oil on board, £1,250.00
On the other side of all this amazing change, is the sad fact that soon I AM leaving my home of 10 years.  And it is breaking my heart - Glenfinnan, in fact the Highlands, have been experiencing one of the most gorgeous autumns that I've had the pleasure of experiencing in the last 15 years since I began coming here to paint! I WANT to paint right now, and am forced to wait even for that since I have so much business work to take care of first!  What makes I bearable is that I KNOW I'll be coming back.... at the very least, to paint and visit my dear friends.....  You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave...
Another place I've had the honor of living in, that has also sunk deep hooks into my back.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Focus Amid Distractions

Hello again from (at this point) sunny Glenfinnan! We've had 7 days of inspirational sun, warmth, and autumn light and color. The biggest choice these days is between going out into the sun and basking in the warmth of it, or utilizing the light in my studio and painting without the aid of artificial light! I've done both actually. But this last month has been so full of distractions (and believe me, right now, I am EASILY distracted!), that while I'm working at the easel, its with long periods of space between. Just in the last two weeks, I have put together three painting or sales proposals, always welcome, but so nervewracking while I wait for answers; and also managed to complete one more painting from my Iona trip, as well as start on another French landscape. No, I'm afraid I've not started on the work from Glenaladale - again, I put it up to distractions.... Those pesky every day problems of paying bills, finding the cash to do so, and waiting while excited clients make up their minds about just what they want, if they want, to buy, nursing my aged horse through a fetlock (ankle) sprain. I'm finding that the focus is there, but is taking a lot of sitting quietly, and remembering to breathe and wait for the ability to stand and paint again. This month has been about hearing and understanding that need to WAIT, and yet prepare. And in the meantime, to keep on painting.... through the upheaval and transition. So enjoy what I've done! One of an Iona Sheep Farmer, and another of North Beach Iona (one of my favourite places to be!).

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Glenfinnan, still... with interruptions

Hello again, As I write, I'm still hanging in the studio in Glenfinnan, but painting - solidly, for the most part. The Glenfinnan Gathering interrupted me, then visiting friends from the South...and only yesterday ( two weeks later), did I pick up the brushes and begin a new piece from Iona in order to help me finish the previous one I'd started from the South of France. Sometimes it happens that way. Sometimes, I just have to start a whole new piece before I can just work with new paint on an older painting. I hope to finish them both today - the rain will tell.... at the moment, its too dark to see my work correctly.... that's my excuse anyway! This post seems to be a stream of consciousness type post! But I digress.... in the meantime, one part of the interruption of the two weeks was an incredible journey down the lochside with a friend in my little BMW Z3.... 18 miles (about) of gravel road - no one in their right mind but a former resident of Taos, NM, (famed for its dirt roads and spring mud) would take such a car on such a road, but she did it well, and as long as I drove slowly, handled it perfectly. then I also spent two days in lovely Glenaladale - reachable only by boat - working hard helping friends and getting inspired to paint more of the Highlands. This too is part of my job. Not just hanging in the studio, looking at my photos, remembering and then picking up the brushes; but, experiencing the landscape, the people, and letting it speak to me! (Which is why I get so stuffed up if I'm in denial about what's really happening in my life - I don't hear the voices of the landscape, the music, the people's hearts.) So, while this post is about painting, its mostly about what else is there that helps the painting progress. I'm also STILL in Glenfinnan - having passed through two offers of short-term residence in France that I've not been able to take advantage of - YET. But I've had a sale on that will end soon, that has helped me get closer to taking the leap of faith I must take in order to leave. in the meantime, I was here to be reinspired; and that's a good thing too. My life, and I suspect the lives of many artists, is about ebb and flow; and as much as we'd LIKE to plan it, and have things move according to that plan, it is pretty much impossible and out of our hands. The important thing for me is to keep working, keep an eye out for open doors, and ear to the ground for approaching train wrecks, and be ready to leap when it really HAS to happen. So, my post illustrations are about inspiration, rather than completed work!!
The completed work will come - soon! Enjoy!!

Thursday, 25 July 2013


I finally started painting this past weekend (Sunday, July 22, 2013 if you want to know). After 2.5 months, it was a momentous thing....shutting the door to the sitting room, putting Lyle Lovett on the stereo (Road to Ensenada, my current favorite - because I love to dance SO much)and just did it! Just picked up the brushes after spending hours sketching from my photographs of Iona (from this past March trip), and began to work. First finishing a painting I'd begun just before went to France at the end of April. Nothing like the end of a dry period to give you a feeling of euphoria, of "whew!" (because its hard not to think you'll never paint again!)I've been at it now, for days - and no stopping in sight! What has made this transformation? I truly believe it was in ONE moment. One distinct point in time where I shifted from feeling lost, terrified of the future to one of acceptance and realization. I was hit with the realization that as difficult as this time of changing life and low income is, that it could be SO MUCH WORSE! That in loosing my old, much loved studio, I was given a distinctly brighter one, and best yet, a soft landing and time. So, I am grateful, humbled and accepting of this time. I know that the best way to begin to sell paintings is to begin to create them! These are tenents I live by, and have followed for a long time now...and hold them to be true! So, in having this epiphany, I felt the shift - from not being able to paint, to being able to paint. As usual, when I start working after a long layoff, its prolific and I think, good work....directly from my soul. First, I had to tear down the walls I'd created once again to protect myself from the encroaching black cloud of fear of failure (we all have our methods - this time, it was an accidental, yet fun evening of birthday celebration). I don't recommend this to anyone, but it seemed to be what I needed to do at this point in time. Then, a week or more of the black fog as I wandered in circles - really feeling my emotions for the first time in several months. Then, a week lost to the computer - so important to my work because of all the photos that now are stored there (which in the end I fixed myself - giving me a huge sense of relief and accomplishment!).... and suddenly, the epiphany, and work. Given how light and peaceful it is, I think I'm definitely, HONESTLY, out of the black fog. Enjoy!!!

Friday, 5 July 2013

Stillness and Chaos

Hello again! Last time I wrote, I had just moved into the new studio - and it wasn't quite ready to work in. It now is....and I've spent the last week sitting in it for most of the day - reading light novels, looking at my photographs, re-photographing paintings, letting the NEED to paint come through strongly enough that I can once again pick up the brushes after nearly 2 months! At this point, 2 months feels like an if I will never paint again! But there are interruptions to this stillness. I share this house with my dear friend Grahaeme, who has kindly and generously offered me space while my life sorts itself out. We are both creative people (he is a poet and gardener), needing long periods of solitude, and while we hang in our separate parts of the house, I'm sure he feels my presence as much as I feel his. Not in a bad way. In fact, in many ways, its been very good to not live alone for awhile! But, I find its easy to let my mind float to whatever activity is happening outside or somewhere else in the house; to help my cat adjust to this new space and all the new residents around us; to try and help clear out so that there is a comfortable order to the general chaos... anything but focus on allowing the first paintings to come out. Its nearly there. I can feel it.... alas an interruption again tomorrow.... the memorial of a very dear friend... distractions! I'm trying to start working with images from Iona once again, so I'm going to show you some of the photos from my last trip.... enjoy!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

A Little Distraction, Part 2

I'm now comfortably ensconced in my new, temporary digs - although the studio isn't quite ready yet. But, in the time leading up to my move since my last blog, I did manage to do a little work.... the results shown here. Talk about 'a little distraction'!! Moving disrupts EVERYTHING; even the IDEA of painting. The worst part, or best, depending on your point of view, is that I'm still floating! I STILL have no idea where or what is next. And every time I try to be efficient and 'organize' it to happen, well, it just falls through - no matter WHERE I try to make my next home. An example: I spent a week in LeRouret, in the Cote d'Azur (a favorite part of the world to be sure...) in late April. I planned the trip, thinking that it would be a 'home' scouting trip; meeting with a few key people about possible caretaking positions, looking at VERY cheap places to perhaps purchase by some miracle (well outside the magic circle around Nice and Cannes), etc. Every time I set out, I felt overwhelmed. I got lost (ask my friends - I never really get lost, and if I do, I love the adventure of finding my way out), was stopped by torrential downpours, or landslides (seriously!)and the meetings fell through, bar the last night's in St. Agnes. I fought against this every day.... and every day, I'd come to the fact that I needed to just keep 'working', looking for paintings in the landscape and the people around me, letting the magic of the place bring the answers, solutions and people who may show the way, to me. Even on the very last day, when a long trip to Fontan was planned, with an invitation to a party outside St. Agnes that afternoon/evening to finish off the day and trip, I had to rethink my goals for the day....turned around by a landslide. The only way up to Sospel and then Fontan was through Italy, or back toward Nice and back up. I took a big breath, looked at a map, and found that I really wanted to just stay in the area around St. Agnes. I ended up driving a bit more into the hills, found the old village, parked the car and walked. Photos, visions of paintings, breathing in the warmth of the air and the smell of the wild rosemary and thyme among other things, and looking down the slope to the town of Montan and the sea beyond. I read, and met new people much later, all within a stones throw of that same village, and came away feeling more settled than I'd felt in a week. More right. I'm sure there will be paintings coming out of that trip... I've just not had time to absorb it since my return in early May. I've another, longer trip planned back to LeRouret and the Cote d'Azur in Mid-July, and I'll just sketch, explore, photograph, and perhaps paint pleinaire if I can get my paints there in a timely manner. Last time I shipped them (and early), the paints didn't arrive for nearly 2 weeks into my planned 3 week housesit! So we'll see; but, I plan to just BE while I'm there. Plan to allow my soul to speak to me and let the paintings happen and the life happen. I realize that I AM already in this transitional phase, and my job is to be in it and recognize that it is still my life, my work, and I will find my way through the maze. I only have to listen.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

A Little Distraction

Hello! Since my last writing, a lot has happened that made me think about the difficulties of being a self-employed painter. I have been given notice that my house/studio of 10 years is about to become a holiday-let (pay attention guys - you too may want to stay in this delightful house one day!) As of June 1, 2013, I will be once again on the road, so to speak. I'm choosing to look at this challenge as a soft shove out the door to embrace the next direction my life will take; a challenge that life has become too comfortable, once again! I've felt it coming for some time, written about it even! And the 'floating' I did this past winter was well placed! It seems, so far, that I'm choosing between finding a way to stay in Glenfinnan or leaping into the void, and finding a place for me, my horse and cat to live and work in the south of France! The problem is, how to keep creating in the midst of all the chaos, anger, frustration, and especially fear that accompanies such moments in life, regardless of one's possibly enlightened viewpoint! It feels like life has been chaotic since notice was given, and that its a small miracle that I've been able to paint at all! I did manage to finish the Biot painting (among a few others); and, as promised I'm showing you that, along with others I managed to complete before life's distractions derailed me once again! Along the way, a very dear friend took me to Iona (one of the inner Hebridean Islands of Scotland, not far from Glenfinnan); always a magical place of peace and discovery for me! Best part this time was that I was able to do a small pleinaire painting on the beach one day. Sitting in the sand painting, cursing the wind, enjoying the sun, taking loads of photos, and loving every minute of the day! The result is at the top of this note! All this brings me to the title of this blog: A Little Distraction! And how difficult it is to keep painting through all of life's trials, challenges, and celebrations; and, how important it is to do just that - KEEP PAINTING - and yet, be kind and accept the need to run around like a chicken with its head cut off!!! For 3 weeks now I've looked at a canvas, drawn on and ready to receive paint, and have been too distracted or afraid to touch it, even though I KNOW it will help ground me, help me to hear the whispers of the universe! The short weekend at Iona just last week helped ground me, and now I do everything I can to be around the painting (even if its reading a short novel) so that one minute I'll be able to just pick up the brushes and START!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013


We all know that one of the most important things for any artist is light. Before anything else, I believe its the light that I see, then the color, sound, feel of a place, person, scene that makes me want to paint it. Then, once back in the studio - since I live in a place where pleinaire work is difficult to do, due to the weather - I need to recreate that light on the canvas. I'm saying all this, because since my last blog, I lost 2.5 weeks due to the dreaded flu, then of course, the dry, cold, sun that was present most of the time I was ill, disappeared. And I've been attempting to work for the past few days, even with daylight bulbs, on a painting from the Cote d'Azur. I need to feel the heat, hear the cicadas, as well as come up with the right light on the canvas. Difficult, when the daylight outside approximate's about 4pm all day..... I'm proceeding, slowly, with this painting; but, I've got to make sure that the street scene from Biot has Biot light, rather than rainy Scottish day light! I realized I wanted to talk about this light, this need to remember a quality of light I've not FELT in nearly a year when I sat and looked at the painting and screamed ,"aargh!" at my frustration about how slowly this complicated little painting is actually going! Part of me says, "ok already! I've watched enough NCIS/NCIS LA/HAWAII 5-O, read enough trashy novels for a lifetime! Its time to let it flow....!" Forget the fact that it IS flowing....just slower than I'd like. (Again, the puritan work ethic!) Next blog you read will include the finished piece. Among others - since this creative slow streak is also creating a backlog of sweet little paintings itching to come out!
GLENFINNAN OCTOBER, 12 x 16 in., oil on board, £1,250.00

Monday, 7 January 2013


Autumn Days on the Mhuidhe, 16 x 24 in., oil on canvas, £2,000.00 This post's title, FLOATING, is about the state of mind I've been in since finishing the painting above. Clarity is what I began with in November, and once the painting was done in early Dec., I found myself floating - like in a warm ocean, calm, waiting for the clarity to jell, and inspiration to find itself once again. I think I've been floating for about 6 weeks, not all that long, but long enough! While I'm not swimming hard yet, I'm taking a few exploratory breast strokes as I look around with interest and begin to engage again. Its not been easy, this floating.... the puritain work ethic is strong in me, and I always find it difficult to 'allow' these quiet times - so necessary in my creative life! Finishing this painting that was begun in October - before my trip to the USA - was part of the journey into floating.... I hope you enjoy it! Now for the next hurdle, to uncover the paints again, and begin to let out all the stored energy of the last 6 weeks. GAIL
Trail to Pienmeanach, 12 x 16 in., oil on board, £1,250.00