GILL BUSTAMANTE | ARTIST

As a child I taught myself to draw and paint by copying animals and horses out of books on an almost daily basis. I still have some of those early drawings – they were terrible (see example opposite which I use to inspire my art students that not all artist's are 'born with it' and that therefore you can get better if you work at it!).

Then in 1979 I did a foundation course at Chelsea and then a degree course at Brighton where I graduated in 1983 with a fine art degree in sculpture. I then worked in a studio on the seafront for a while making sculptures with an architect for clubs and hotels. 

​On moving to East Grinstead in the late 80's, I began painting for an art agent that specialised in animal, people and bespoke portraits and soon became reasonably skilled at ‘classical’ style painting which I continued to do for over 15 years.

​Like most artists - especially female ones I suspect - I struggled to divide my time between art, raising a child, work commitments and other obligations. It was therefore not until I was almost 50, menopausal and a bit mad that I finally found myself enough time to experiment and find out what I really wanted to do as an artist.

​Two other factors helped me at this point:

1. Some nice people invented the internet so I could sell my art in online art galleries.

2. I become an art tutor so that I could keep evolving as an artist by helping other people to become artist’s plus not die of starvation as I pursued my art career more intensely.

​l have a great love and respect for all artists and art forms – especially those pushing important humanitarian, aesthetic and ecological messages but established fairly recently that my own message is simply one of being able to provide a temporary escape to people and hopefully one that will uplift them. I lean far more towards spiritual concerns rather than material ones.

​My creativeness is helped by listening to BBC radio 6 music, irreverent comedy, walking and looking at things, eating cake, sitting in fields and imagining things.

​My Art Style:

​Although I do have a degree in fine art, I was painting for many years before I could define what my personal muse was. It took learning to draw accurately, learning to paint traditional animal portraits, trying all sorts of mediums and techniques before I finally realised I did have a ‘painting style’. This only became obvious to me a few years ago and it only happened once I had enough technical skills under my belt to feel confident enough to be more experimental. I found that what I wanted to paint was places and things that were a little bit mystical and that I could escape into. I wanted to paint things that were reminiscent of real places but with something else enchanting them a little. I wanted paintings that could lead me elsewhere entirely - along with anyone else who wanted to go there.

Very much part of the creation process for me is to visit a place and walk. What occurs when I walk is that I go completely ‘out of time’. I walk through countryside that has not changed much in centuries. I hear birds singing, bunnies bouncing, cows chomping, insects buzzing and know that these sounds were exactly the same 5000 years ago. I often tune in to flashes of history and even emotions – I have no doubt that places retain memories put there by life forms long gone. As I walk - no anchor to the present - I am happy to forget what time period it is, who I am and where I come from. I am happy to just exist and look at the spectacle nature is performing around me. I am a dryad in the woods, and a selkie by the sea, a wise woman, a witch, a fairy, a warrior, an elf. I am anything I care to imagine but cleverly disguised as an overweight middle aged woman so nobody really sees me.

​When I come home and I step back onto my timeline, I want to retain some of the magic I experienced by painting an image that tries to capture a little of the essence of it. I am always fascinated to see what appears on a canvas once I start painting as I often have no idea what I have absorbed until the painting starts to emerge. I paint largely from memory with the aid of photos for the wildlife featured in them.

Goal

My ultimate goal is to one day paint something so captivating that I will not be able to look away. Then I want to disappear into it with an inexhaustible supply of cake and an incubus that looks like Jonny Depp never to be seen again...

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