INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST: GABRIELLE MCNEESE

In preparation for featuring this artist's wonderful watercolors at Second Saturday this weekend, we asked Gabrielle to tell us a bit about herself.  Below are her words:
"My mother and father recognized my artistic abilities and creative imagination growing up in the south suburbs of Chicago. I've drawn and painted all my life.   My influential mentor, a neighbor down the street, gave me drawing lessons, though I was so young, I do not remember her name. 

I was a tomboy, the first girl to be in the boy's little league.  I remember cutting my long hair off so as to blend in and not be teased. All through high school, spending the whole afternoon in art class was the only way to keep me going to school.  I worked different jobs and always had a painting going at home.

I attended the American Academy of Art, Chicago, long before the use of computers, where commercial art school lessons taught perspective, technical drawing and lay out by hand.  I believe my attention to detail and use of colors is a product of the intricate lessons received at the academy. Watercolors are my favorite medium, as it is bright, clean and flowing.

I left Chicago yearning to go west, ending up in Idaho, Alaska, then Utah, Montana and New Mexico.  The natural beauty of the west, the mountains and landscape continue to influence the subjects I paint.  In my early 20's, I entered into the Anchorage juried art show and won best of show.  From that, a career in painting commissioned works began and I became quite well known.  It was also a very dark time for me making the mistake of marrying a horrible and abusive man.  I left Alaska and continued to paint while working as a bartender and waitress.

In 2000 I attended the San Juan College in Farmington, NM. where I entered the vocational building trades program. Learning all aspects of building houses sparked an interest in working with wood as a finish carpenter.  I met my husband during that time and he gave a scroll saw. He has always encouraged me to continue my artistic endeavors through good times and bad and he is my biggest fan.  I love working with wood and self taught the art of intarsia.  Since then I go back and forth between painting and wood work.

Upon moving to Texas, I joined the Galveston Art League and my focus shifted to tropical subjects as I was fascinated by all the beautiful plants that never grew in the areas of previous years. I entered a poster competition for the 100th year celebration of the Hotel Galvez , which I won with my entry of “Starry Skies Over the Gulf”. I have been represented in art galleries in Galveston, Rockport, The Woodlands and currently the Art Connections Gallery in La Grange, Texas.

My favorite artist is Claude Monet, "The Artists Garden at Giverny" my favorite piece. Gardening is my biggest hobby which turned into a full time dedication when I joined the Farmers Market in Magnolia, Texas. I named my booth “The Artists Garden” and I raised and sold vegetables, home-canned jams and home baked breads and of course art! I enjoy walking my three big dogs every morning. There have been numerous paintings that I snuck my dogs into the scene including the Hotel Galvez Centennial poster and my newest work, “A Dog Named Boo”."