“Listen to the whispers of your imagination…” — Gayle Printz
In May of 2020, I picked up my first paintbrush to bring light back into a world darkened by the pandemic. Though I had no training, I did grow up in a creative atmosphere: My mother was a painter, my father played piano, one of my sisters is a singer/songwriter, and the other was a sculptor. Growing up, I spent two months every summer at a Fine Arts Camp in Interlochen Michigan. Though I was usually busy playing piano, I couldn’t help but be influenced by the creativity I experienced there. I have always admired beautiful art, beautiful music, and people who work hard to express and share their feelings through artistic endeavors.
Painting was something I was drawn to but never had time to try. When Covid’s “Isolate in Place” regulations became mandatory, I suddenly found myself with an abundance of time. I wanted to channel my energy into something creative that I could undertake without socializing. So, I turned to online shopping — this time buying art supplies. Using a paintbrush, I hoped to reflect upon the beauty that remained.
I thought I had discovered a private way to express my thoughts and feelings. It just did not remain private for long. For, as I opened myself up to sharing those feelings by letting my paintings go, the international response was overwhelming.
Here is my story:
On July 13th of 2020, while looking for a way to archive my ever-growing modern art portfolio, I happened upon a call for artists for the Art-Resilience Competition. Thinking it was about being resilient during the pandemic, I thought my creations might qualify. The application required I email my name, address, and images of two paintings. There was no entry fee unless the jury selected my work. No commissions were involved. Earlier exhibitions were beautifully curated. In short, I simply saw no downside to applying…except that having never intended to show my work, I had no pictures of my paintings other than what I had taken with my phone.
I could only submit two paintings for consideration. So, I sent images of ten different paintings to eight of my most encouraging fans: an Art Historian, two artists, a publicist, and four art enthusiasts. I told them I was thinking of entering a competition in which the theme was resilience and asked them to rate the paintings in order of resilience-related preference. I tallied the votes and submitted POND AND FIRST on July 15th — the day of the deadline. It was the first competition I entered.
A few hours later, I received an email from the extremely talented Artist/ Architect/Author/Professor/Museum Curator, Ksenia Milicevic, requesting my photograph for their website. I asked if that meant one of my paintings had been accepted for the exhibition. She answered, "Yes, of course. Both of them. They are perfect." I was speechless and immediately sent her the only picture I had of myself.
Ms. Milicevic then asked for the link to my website. I sheepishly told her I didn’t have a website. Enter my husband who, if he didn’t have a day job, could be a professional photographer. He worked tirelessly photographing my artwork, meticulously ensuring each image was an accurate representation of the painting. This may not sound difficult, but it is. Each color and texture must be perfectly depicted, or I can’t use it. My husband outdid himself; in addition to posting my work on SmugMug for Ms. Milicevic, he has since taken every image on GaylePrintz.com.
When I proudly gave Ms. Milicevic the link, she very gently informed me that, although my paintings looked beautiful on SmugMug, I should set up a storefront website before the August 8th Exhibition because collectors would want to see all my work. Collectors?! I never thought I would show my work publicly, let alone part with it. But I took her advice, and my online modern art gallery, GaylePrintz.com, was born.
Ms. Milicevic then requested my C.V. and, once again, I sheepishly told her I didn't have one. She very gently told me to send her what I had, and she would work with it. I sent her a "C.V." with my education (Boston University Law School and the University of Pennsylvania), past jobs, titles of children’s books I have written, all the Bar Associations to which I once belonged (New York, New Jersey, and Georgia) and, realizing she wanted information relating to my artistic background, I included my eight summers at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. As that only amounted to two pages, I put in photographs of my artwork. The extremely pragmatic Ms. Milicevic removed everything law-related, all work experience, and all photographs of my paintings, posting only my education, Interlochen, and the names of my books.
Ksenia Milicevic walked me through the business side necessary to present my artwork to the world. But her greatest gift to me — besides having her in my life — is the way in which she always inspired me to be myself. From the beginning, Ms. Milicevic said my paintings had the potential to impact the art world. She told me I have a uniquely distinctive style such that, in time, when people saw my work, they would recognize it as mine. She advised me to continue doing whatever it was I was doing, because I was already an important artist whose work is a necessary addition to the world of contemporary art.
Wow! There was no more liberating advice I could have received. Hearing this, I realized I do want my work to be a necessary addition to the Art World. I also realized the only way I can do that is by exploring the unfamiliar in my own way. As I am what you might refer to as a blank slate, I do not have anyone else’s style to unlearn in order to express my own. The art world may think it’s because I break all the rules that my paintings deviate from anything they’ve yet to see. But, in truth, I am simply unaware of the rules. In my case, that seems to be a plus. Exploring freedom of expression in an untraditional way, I can paint without boundaries and freely cross artistic genres. When there are no artistic rules to follow, the possibilities are endless.
Ksenia Milicevic gave me the encouragement to be myself when I paint. She freed my spirit and gave me the confidence to become the painter I was meant to become. I look forward to the day I can fly to Paris to meet the woman who took me under her wing without expecting anything other than my future success in return.
My story would be incomplete if I didn’t mention that, as it turns out, the Art-Resilience Competition had absolutely nothing to do with being resilient during the era of COVID. Rather, it was the coveted International Art-Resilience Competition held yearly by The International Art-Resilience Movement founded in Europe by Ksenia Milicevic. And, although I thought at the time that I must have been one of the few applicants, it turns out they were overwhelmed by applications, and I was still one of only eight American painters whose work was selected for the exhibition. Before accepting my work, the jury had no idea that I began painting a mere two months before. Or that FIRST was literally my first painting — ever. And I didn’t know that their stated purpose in selecting artwork was "to present works characterizing the rigor in a search for artistic quality, creativity and technical mastery."
My introduction to the art world was akin to being on "The Voice" with paintings. The only factor involved was how my artwork made each juror feel. For, although it can be challenging to get past the distractions inherent in abstract art, when you embrace being in an unfamiliar world, there is a richness and tranquility that can fill your soul. I hope it fills yours.
After the exhibition, my life became a whirlwind adventure. In November of 2020, my painting, COLORS, became part of the permanent exhibit of Le Musée de Peinture de Saint-Frajou in France. My work has been in solo exhibitions all over the world. My work is on the cover of juried international art books and in countless international art publications and exhibitions. I have won important international prizes. For two years, I have been one of a handful of World Master Artists. And every painting on my website is an international award winner—sharing over nine-hundred juried international art awards I have earned. You can see all of this in infinite detail on my C.V. (yes, I now have a C.V.) under the main menu above or (if you prefer a shorter version) on the list of Notable Exhibitions, Publications, Prizes, Honors, and Awards. You can also look at the “Gone Gallery” for a glimpse of some paintings that now line the walls of prominent international art investors and collectors around the globe.
Creating these works of art helped me bring sunlight and beauty back to a world interrupted. Now, by encouraging each of you to use your imagination as the lens through which to find meaning in my work, I hope that, in translating the colors of my world into the universal language of art, I can inspire all of you to embrace the unfamiliar and celebrate the beauty in life.
THANK YOU FOR VISITING