Drawing and Painting fascinated me since early childhood. My great-great aunt, Ellen Wetherald Ahrens, was a gifted artist and a student of Howard Pyle and Thomas Eakins, in Philadelphia. I like to think I might have some genetic claim to my art desires. In any case I was introduced to great art at an early age and was more comfortable expressing myself with paint and crayons than talking. My formal education in art began the summer of 1959, the year I graduated from Germantown Friends School, in Philadelphia, the city of my birth. That summer I began to study with Robert Brackman, world renowned portrait and figure painter, who lived in Noank, Connecticut, a tiny fishing village near Mystic where my parents had a summer cottage. Mr. Brackman has been a significant influence on my work and his teachings have inspired me continuously for more than 50 years.
I continued to study with Brackman at his schools in Noank, and later in Madison, Connecticut during the summers, while I attended Elmira College in the winter. After graduation with a bachelor’s degree in English (my mentors and father felt that a liberal arts degree would probably help me obtain money faster than selling paintings) I went off to New York to study painting at the Art Students’ League.
My father proved to be right, selling paintings did not help pay the rent and put food on the table, so I found myself gravitating into the printing and publishing world, where I could stay creative, designing logos and letterheads, while providing myself a second career. At various times through the last 4 decades I owned a silk-screen business, typesetting business (utilizing the newest invention – IBM computers!) and a needlework company producing kits and plans of my designs.
During the middle seventies, I was fortunate to be the Staff Graphic Artist at Mystic Seaport, which allowed me to be very creative with my graphic arts experience, as well as my English degree. I designed the first Mystic Seaport Poster (still a big seller) and designed many publications and books. I still love “graphic arts” and keep my hand in by doing some pro bono work for organizations I belong to, and more recently I am using the Internet as a resource with several websites I’ve designed.
During the mid seventies I resumed my interest in painting and converted the living room into a studio and painted nights and weekends. I exhibited frequently in Southeastern Connecticut and had a solo show in Mystic. Without realizing it, I was being lured into a new adventure.
Sailing: On April fools day, 1979, in the midst of a roaring northeast gale, my fiancé, George Cranston (who is now my late husband) and I moved aboard our 31-foot Camper & Nicholson sloop that was to be our home for the next 8 years. We cruised north and south in the Inland Waterway to Florida for the winter and the Chesapeake Bay for the summer and fall. Painting aboard a tiny sail boat was difficult. My efforts at that time to use watercolors were disappointing and every time I set up to do a painting we would find ourselves aground, or having to move the boat because of an approaching storm, or we would be harbored with a thousand motorboats roaring around. After moving ashore in 1985 I “forced” myself to become versatile in watercolors. I wish I knew then what I know today!
Feeling somewhat out of touch with my work and the art world, I decided to return to school. First at the National Academy of Design, in New York, taking painting classes with Mary Beth McKenzie and drawing with James Childs. Later that year I continued studying at Lyme Academy of Fine Arts in Old Lyme, Connecticut studying drawing and anatomy with Dean Keller. I was extremely fortunate to be able to take several workshops with Aaron Shikler during those years.
During the late eighties I “discovered” sculpture and studied again at Lyme Academy with Laci deGerenday. Learning sculpture has changed the way I look at things.
In the early nineties I was introduced to Monotype printmaking and felt that my graphic arts background had become interlaced with my painting when I experimented with this technique and fell in love it. I joined the Monotype Guild of New England and served on the Board of Directors of that organization. I designed and maintained their website and was voted an honorary member in 2003.
In the early 1990s I moved my studio to Westerly, Rhode Island, where I became active in the fledgling Artists’ Cooperative Gallery and the bare beginnings of the Westerly Arts Community, where I could participate in the Arts Network. An artist friend, Sandi Gold, and I acquired a gallery, and In the winter of 1999 we increased our space to include a classroom where we both taught painting.
In the summer of 2001 I moved to Zephyrhills, Florida after a disastrous financial debacle.
During the fall and winter of 2001/2002 I started to experiment with egg tempera. The methods and materials of the Medieval and early Renaissance painters totally fascinates me. After reading about the technique for years I finally decided to try making gesso panels and grind my own pigments. My early
attempts were very exciting, and I continue to discover and learn new techniques and crave every new earth color I read about.
After moving to Florida I became affiliated with the Horizon Line Gallery in Temple Terrace (a part of Tampa) and had a solo show there in 2003 and in 2005 I had a 50-year Retrospective of my work. I taught classes and workshops there until the gallery closed in 2008. Carrollwood Cultural Center opened shortly after that and I teach painting, drawing, watercolor, and a variety of computer classes including Digital Photography in that splendid facility, and I participate in many art shows that are put on by local art groups. In March of 2011 I was asked to be the Art Curator of the Gallery at Carrollwood Cultural Center, where I am responsible for the visual arts program and typically reshuffle between 150 and 200 artworks each month! It is a thrilling job where I get to interact with artists and photographers throughout the Tampa Bay region.
I was honored to be asked to have a solo show at The George Waters Gallery, Elmira College which opened during Alumni weekend, June 2008. The show stayed in place for the remainder of the summer.
In May of 2009 my beloved husband, George Cranston, died after many years of battling various maladies. When we moved to this house I had a tiny spare bedroom to work in, and it was very cramped and difficult, if not impossible to work on large paintings. So, with the living room available I had help pulling up the rugs and replacing them with a white floor from IKEA. I sold all the furniture and moved the TV into the small room I had used as my studio. My new studio ranks as one the best I’ve occupied over my lifetime of various workspaces. Click here to view a video of my studio.
I call myself a realist painter, interested in traditional methods and materials, while drawing inspiration from many periods and styles in art. I enjoy the mechanics of drawing and I am in love with color.
I am a member of North Tampa Arts League, TESA (The Exhibiting Society of Artists), The Egg Tempera Society, and and I am an honorary member of the New England Monotype Guild. In 2007 I was elected to the National League of American Pen Women as an artist member, and 2017 I was awarded a letters membership as well. My work may be seen on many websites and art venues on the Internet and I am honored to be in many private collections throughout the United States and abroad.
In January 2015 I was listed in Wikipedia! Here is the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gainor_Roberts
contact me: email@example.com
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