Invermere painted Gabriele Bridgwater never stops sharpening her ability to contrast the colours of her work.
“Colours are like people and there’s no such thing as a bad colour and they’re all, on their own they all stand individually,” she said. “There’s no such thing as a bad colour, just like there’s no such thing as a bad person.”
After escaping Ontario in 1980 to begin a life in the mountains, she began her career as an artist with a beginners art class, where Gabriele’s artistic endeavour was off to an auspicious start.
“The instructor said ‘all you ever need is these five colours’,” she recalled. “I looked at those five colours and I was not in love with them.”
She said immediately she recognized that a wide variety of colours would have to become part of her itinerary, and she currently works with 75. Each project only includes some of the collection though, which she said depend on her mood.
“Maybe it’s gloomy outside and I’ll need sunshine, so it’ll be a yellow painting. It’s always to balance what’s going on around me,” she said. “Only when everything is bright around me do I dare to go to the dark side. There always has to be a balance in life.”
While Mrs. Bridgewater is not a professional dancer or musician, she allows several forms of art to directly influence her work.
“Music and dance tend to access the right side of the brain, so I think what happens is the creative side that actually doesn’t follow rules and it does get very linked to the emotions and theres a sense of spatial relationships,” she said. “Your brush is an extension of the arm, and the way you move it reflects on the canvas.”
Gabriele best expresses herself in her studio, which was built four years ago by her husband, who passed away last May.
“When I close the doors, I don’t care if I’m singing or dancing or painting or whatever, it’s truly my space,” she said, adding that the studio has freed her up to new possibilities. Her husband told her that if she could draw it, he could build it – so she designed the studio to be 12 feet by 12 feet with a cylindrical tower reaching out the top, which makes the room sound like the inside of an acoustic instrument, she said.
As she’s in the process of downsizing, Gabriele said her studio is the only possession that she wouldn’t be able to give up.
“It’s magic — it’s just pure magic — so when I paint in there everything there is no real thought, its just an experience and that’s what i try to put on my paintings.”
Gabriele said that sometimes she can’t even figure out how her own concepts were conceived.
To get a close-up look at her projects, a visit to Black Star Studios in Invermere will give a good glimpse as the exclusive gallery carrying her work.