By Irene Ruddock
Gail Laines Chase is a Stony Brook resident who has delighted followers of her paintings for years. She graduated Wilkes College where she received her teaching degree and was able to take art classes which she enjoyed.
Chosen by the Setauket Artists to be the Honored Artist at the 42nd Setauket Artists Exhibition for 2022, Chase exhibits her work in Gallery North, Mills Pond Gallery, Long Island Museum and the Port Jefferson Village Center. Chase is often seen painting in plein air, a method she feels helps capture the mood of the scene. Her versatility is evident in the mediums she pursues: watercolor, oil and pastel.
You were originally known as a water colorist. Why do you like that medium?
I love the spontaneity of watercolor. There is something about the feel of the brush gliding across the paper that intrigues me. Painting in watercolor is like taking a mini vacation. Should the muse happen to call and the painting works, that is truly serendipitous! I become lost in its magic; the light, shape, line, but most of all the color. I love color in clothing, the decoration of my home, but most of all in painting.
What do you like about working with pastels and oils?
In pastel and oil, again it is the color that I’m drawn to. I love the intensity of the colors because an artist can get the deep saturated color values immediately. Not to mention, pastels and oil is much more easily corrected than watercolor, should an “oops” occur!
What inspires you to paint?
I’m inspired by nature. I love painting at West Meadow creek which I call my “still waters” place. I love the morning light and the sunsets are spectacular! We are so fortunate to live on Long Island where there are so many beautiful venues.
Who influenced you in your art?
I was blessed to have a grandmother who encouraged me to garden and love nature. Growing up in Pennsylvania, I loved the mountains and pine woods, but when I moved to Long Island, I added the shore and wetlands to that love.
I’m also inspired by Renoir, Monet and Van Gogh. I was fortunate to study with fine and talented women artists who became my mentors: Harriet Christman, Adelaide Silkworth, Janet Walsh, Ruth Baderian, Katherine Hiscox, and, more recently, local pastelist Mary Jane van Zeijts.
As a teacher, did you bring art into the classroom?
Yes, I enjoyed influencing the children by incorporating art into the curriculum. I enjoyed watching the children blossom, nurturing their creativity and senses. When I think of my years in the classroom, a line from Sara Teasdale’s poem Barter comes to mind “… And little children looking up, Holding wonder like a cup.”
Do you have a network of artists?
I am blessed to have a network of artist friends. We lift up each other’s efforts with positive criticism and support. Best of all, we have become good friends who are there for each other in times of sunshine and shade.
Tell us about your greeting card collection.
My watercolor and pastel images have been reproduced as a collection of greeting cards. It began by just sending these cards to friends to which I added poetry. After a time, it has morphed into a business. The cards may be purchased from my website (glcimpressions.com) or in my home studio by appointment.
Why do you think art is important to society?
Art is important to society because it speaks to humanity’s better angels. All of the arts are important because they move us to a higher plane of thinking and feeling.
How does art help you in other areas of your life?
Art brings me joy and gratitude for the beauty of nature. It helps relieve the stress of everyday busyness. It helps me to really look, see and appreciate the gift of a beautiful world.