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Semi-abstract magic: where art and nature converge | The Express Tribune

September 10, 2023


Gill Bustamante specialises in creating expansive contemporary oil canvases featuring vast landscapes and seascapes. Her distinctive painting technique seamlessly blends elements of expressionism, impressionism, semi-abstract art, art nouveau, and a unique concept she calls “memory impressionism.” She walks around rural areas, to look at and absorb what she catches her eye and revels in the experience. Then returns home to try and capture an essence of the place from her memory.

To Bustamante, her artworks serve as reverberations of exquisite locales, and she remains captivated by the enchanting transformations that transpire on canvas, originating from the simplest of recollections. All of them have a story attached and are named only once she has completed the painting and can clearly see what story has emerged from her strokes.

Bustamante completed a fine art degree in Brighton in 1983 although she began painting when she was three. She loves what she does and considers herself immensely fortunate to have found a way to work for a living that for her is as enjoyable as play.

MY: Tell us a little bit about your family?

GB: Well, I am based in Sussex and married to a lovely husband. We have a beautiful son, who is now 25. I have two brothers who make me laugh a lot, and two lovely, aging parents.

MY: Tell us about your work and social life and how much of your time does housework take?

GB: As an artist by trade, and one who imparts the wisdom of art through teaching, the bulk of my days are devoted to either the act of painting itself or embarking on journeys to seek inspiration for my creative works. It is the idyllic beauty of rural landscapes and the allure of wildlife that consistently bring me joy. As an artist by trade, and one who imparts the wisdom of art through teaching, the bulk of my days are devoted to either the act of painting itself or embarking on journeys to seek inspiration for my creative works. It is the idyllic beauty of rural landscapes and the allure of wildlife that consistently bring me joy. I walk around 20 to 30 miles a week and often make sketches and photos that I will later use in paintings. My evenings are spent marketing and selling my artwork online as I am an independent artist and prefer to run my career independently. I do minimum possible housework.

MY: Your paintings reflect magical and intuitive work. Have you ever felt as though you channel the spiritual energy of nature and wildlife?

GB: I am inspired by nature which is magical. It is a life force that animates and decorates the world and I do believe there is a spiritual energy that helps artists to create in all art forms.

MY: When you visit different places and absorb the scenery, and then return home to illustrate and paint the flavour and feel of that landscape, how do you choose the colours?

GB: That is completely instinctive. I just know what looks right to me and what looks wrong. I always knew how to mix colours even as a child and simply paint what thrills me. The colours and shapes in my paintings have to look ‘balanced’ to me and that is my only criteria.

MY: Perhaps, the best colour schemes are in nature, but your magical work makes me wonder if humans are colour-scheme masters. What do you think?

GB: Nature is amazing and beautiful in its colour schemes. You only have to look at birds and flowers and lizards to see the most incredible colours. I don’t feel at all that I can beat nature’s designs, so instead, I take inspiration from them and alter them to fit my own sense of what is beautiful and create a slightly alternate version of what is ‘real’ in nature. That is something unique to each artist.

MY: Your work deals with birds, sea, animals and nature and you rarely paint human beings, portraits, on depict their issues and problems. Is there a reason for that?

GB: The reason I don’t paint people is because too many people are already too fixated on bodies. It is not a healthy obsession and it is especially hard for girls who are constantly being bullied by the media and even by their families, boyfriends and husbands etc. about how they should look and dress. This is not okay. We should not be judging each other based on physical appearance. We are spiritual beings in bodies and that is more important than our bodies. I therefore don’t wish to add to the billions of other paintings in the world that idolise bodies and gender and tell people how they should look and victimise anyone who is not naturally beautiful by conventional standards.

MY: Do you love texture, mess and the smell of paints? If yes, does this mean you are passionate about your work or is it a part of your nature?

GB: It is my nature. Although, I love the sensations you get when you walk and touch and looks at things, enjoy the scent of flowers, but I also love the sensation of using oil paint and the colours, the way it moves on the surface, and the feel of different brushes. It is all part of a process that I really enjoy.

MY: Do you support any social, environmental or wildlife causes?

GB: Yes. Some of my favourite causes are listed on my website www.gillbustamante.com. I support them through donations and promotions as they are doing vital work and what they do has enormously affected social betterment worldwide.

MY: You walk and travel in and paint your own beautiful country. Do you also visit other countries to paint? For instance, in Pakistan you can see the desert, and beautiful mountains in the northern areas.

GB: I don’t travel as much as I would like but someday, I would love to visit Pakistan and India and I am sure I will most certainly be inspired by these countries. I love the colourful landscapes, beautiful wildlife and the bright artwork of these countries. I would love to decorate my car like an Indian taxi drivers and Pakistani truck drivers. England is very conservative in its decorative sense and use of colour compared to the southern continents and I admire them greatly for that.

MY: Are you inspired by any great artists and what is it about them that inspires you?

GB: I don’t have a favourite artist, but I do admire many and they are mostly contemporary ones. If I had to choose three artists though I would say Claude Monet, Gustav Klimt and Maxfield Parrish. I admire each for their expertise and the uniqueness of their art.

MY: You are a self-representing artist who occasionally works on commission or for agents. Do you find that kind of work satisfying?

GB: I do as long as I am allowed to create in my usual style without too many adjustments being requested. It is always wonderful when I reveal a final piece of art to someone and they love it. I work hard to deliver what they would like.

MY: As an art teacher, your students like your light-hearted approach to teaching. Is it in your nature or is it actually a teaching method?

GB: That is my nature. There are enough serious things going on in the world already, and I feel that artists, writers, performers, musicians and comedians are vital to help keep everyone sane. Laughter has long been known as the best therapy.

MY: In which countries does your art sell the most?

GB: My paintings can be bought on many online art galleries, but when purchased from my website, they can be delivered anywhere. I have customers mostly in the UK and US, but also in China, Hawaii, Europe, Australia and many more places.

Murad Yusufzai is a freelance contributor

All facts and information are the sole responsibility of the writer



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