Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? What’s your background in Art?

Hi Jen, it’s so nice to connect with you! Thank you for asking. I grew up in Huntington, Connecticut. My backyard was Jones tree farm which provided an amazing landscape to play, imagine, and build leaf forts with my sister. I just loved creating spaces to take my imagination elsewhere. In elementary school, I had the most incredible art teacher who would come to our classroom with a little “cart of art”. That was my favorite time of the week! Mrs. Carr was so creative with what little she had on that cart. It seemed so magical. She inspired me to draw and paint. At age 12, we moved an hour away to South Windsor, Connecticut. The middle school had a devoted art class that I dove into and LOVE, LOVE, LOVED my teacher, Mrs. Wallace-Bernier. I still have some of those still-life drawings. She set me on my path enrolling in every art class I could through high school. I luckily had some amazing teachers and have fond memories. I took a painting class after school, once a week, with a sweet local artist who happened to be my neighbor, Mrs. Eisenberg. That was pivotal for me following a painting path. Her encouragement, coupled with my high school art teacher, Mrs. Maillett, was an integral part of me pursuing my artistic career. Though I must admit I wasn’t sure if I would paint full-time when I went to Salve Regina University (or SRC at the time). The smaller college had a fantastic ratio of student to teacher ratio. I was one of three painting students. The three of us had very different styles and were extremely supportive of each other. I definitely received incredible instruction from the masterful figurative painter Professor Daniel Ludwig, who truly honed my skills and inspired me to pursue painting full time.  A few years later, I continued on to UMASS Dartmouth to work with the delightful painter Professor Anne Leone, who opened my eyes to an expressive storytelling way of painting. There, I received a Master of Fine Arts with a specialty in painting.


You became very well known for your amazing murals. How did that journey start and would you share how the Broadneck Elementary mural and similar new murals came about?

That’s an interesting story …
During the years between undergraduate and graduate school, I traveled abroad as a yacht stewardess watching the world through a porthole, sketching scenes along the way. I had always hoped to return to school to pursue a career in painting and spent the years in between saving up for my MFA. Luckily, the vessel I was working on required a short stay in Lisse, Netherlands. There, I spent the winter working and was awestruck by the burst of color in the spring at the Keukenhof Gardens. The abundance of flowers and their incredible brilliant colors were breathtaking. The experience inspired me to follow my dream of obtaining an MFA at UMASS Dartmouth. There I continued to paint flowers… big flowers… six foot flower paintings in pastel and in oil. A local restaurant owner heard I painted large artwork, so he asked if I could paint an eight foot eggplant for his new Italian restaurant. It seemed like the perfect request to me. I then painted three large canvases of vegetables, an eight foot eggplant, six foot carrots, onions, and mushrooms. When I installed the paintings, the space between each work was so stark white and plain. I asked if I could add some vegetables and vines on the walls to connect the canvases. My mural business was born! This led to incredible opportunities, painting murals for patients and staff at the local Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, Boston Medical Center, and eventually Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.. Fast forward a few years, in 2006, I became a mom and this led me to becoming a visiting artist at my children’s schools. I then began teaching mural workshops at primary schools throughout the county, painting legacy murals with hundreds of young artists. Many mural projects that I create focus on the importance of the watershed in our backyard, highlighting the delicate ecosystem that exists within the Chesapeake Bay.


Do you have people who inspired you to create? In what way?

Oh that question brings back great memories. I had an amazing design teacher at Salve Regina who taught Special Event Designing, he was Richard Carbotti. The most amazing, outside of the box, type of teacher. “Think big, bold, and fun” said Richard, nearly every time we had a class. I had the most incredible time with him. It led to working as an intern for his business, “Perfect Surroundings”. Looking back, I see how pivotal this was in my career and the way I created my own work. He inspired me beyond words. He never worried about the little details but thought of every special events project as the “big picture.” He’d ask, “How does it feel within the space?,  How can you make an impact, and create a grand entrance with design”? It was exciting, invigorating and freeing to just go for it. It opened worlds to me and I truly believe it was Richard who guided me into murals and seeing at as my tool to work with a space and make an impact. A legacy! Now that I’m thinking about it, I see I’m doing exactly what Richard did. He was a teacher who shared his love of his work with students. Funny, how the world works. But I can’t forget to mention, that if I had several days to speak with you, I would share stories from each and every teacher, from middle school to college. Daniel Ludwig, absolutely inspired me to paint and to continue to pursue my MFA at UMASS with Anne Leone, thinking of them both make me smile. I’m so lucky to have had so many amazing instructors. It was Professor Leone who handed me my first set of pastels. She also took a palette knife to one of my paintings and said, you know what you need? Texture!  She then begin carving out the paint. I gasped with delight, it was sculpture with paint.  The palette knife then became my favorite tool for years until my murals became my primary work. Now my children are my inspiration. They are my muse and are terrific critics who often have better ideas for my paintings than I do.

If you have a practice for separating your personal Art from your professional Art, what is it?

At the moment, balancing motherhood and my mural work, I haven’t had a chance to dedicate a lot of time to my personal art. I plan my personal art around school breaks: the holidays, mid-winter, and the summer. Luckily, I have an art group that formed during covid. We meet every Monday and encourage each other on our current work. Some weeks I am able to sneak in time for a small pastel painting or 2 and some weeks I just enjoy the camaraderie and encourage others in the group call.

What part of your Art-making process do you enjoy most?

Painting! Seriously, just the feel of a brush making marks, blending colors, creating animation through one stroke, it’s all so exciting to me how I can create images from a blank canvas. Images that seem to be full of life. The best comment someone said to me was, “I feel if I turned around the painting would be dancing behind me, and when I turn back it’s playing freeze tag”. That part truly delights me.

At the moment, which are your favorite mediums and why?

Depending on the time of year, I might have a different answer. In the winter it would be snow, when we have snow. I love making snow sculptures with my kids and it’s free supplies. But seriously, I love to paint with both my acrylics and pastels equally, as they give me very different approaches to my work. I’ve been meaning to combine them as I’ve heard folks doing this, so you never know it might be my next adventure.

Do you have a favorite product or tool you wouldn’t mind sharing with other artists?

With regards to painting murals, I found working on the Celtec PVC substrate has truly changed how I work. I’m very happy not to use wood for murals and yes, I’m sure you are saying, “but plastic?” The sign board I use is recycled material and whatever I have left over I recycle back to the company who then reuses the material. I also love empty slime cup/containers for when I am working on large school murals with hundreds of students. There, I use latex paint that I pour into those containers for the students to work out of. They seal well so they keep the paint fresh for weeks. Then when the paint has dried it peels right out of the container so I can reuse them again and again. Reuse, Recycle! Yay!

Do you have advice for other artists who might be thinking of following in your footsteps?

Learn to surf or snowboard 🙂 The one thing I have learned, is life flows and changes and surprises you when you least expect it. Having breast cancer last year opened my world to an incredible journey with new friends and amazing inspirations. Each day is a new day, I try to focus on the positive and take every turn with grace, enjoying the ride.

Where can someone see more of your creations? Are you on Social Media?





Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview Gayle!