Interview with Bill Gittins
Widely recognized for his vibrant oil paintings, Bill Gittins has logged many hours capturing the beauty of his surroundings in colorful, textural excellence. Painting both en plein air and in studio, his paintings are a visual delight; filled with robust, clean hues and distinctive dynamic brush and palette knife work. With a Colorist style that blends traditional with impressionism, and an impasto-like application, his superior handling of the medium results in paintings that convey complexity and movement.
As a metaphor, pathways and waterways, often leading you into Bill’s work are an artistic element of his process, rich in symbolism and intrigue. Embarking on each piece, he sees within his palette as the trailhead for the adventure that awaits the viewer. As he departs and places those first applications of paint, the journey to another wonderful destination begins.
"I find a path into each painting—enjoying the creation process to its fullest. Observation,
experimentation and my interest in ‘what is around the corner’ for each of us in life are the keys to the way I approach the exciting challenge of each painting”
- Bill Gittins
As it turns out, what happened to be “around the corner” for Bill and his wife on October 10, 2017, was an event that would change their lives forever. Bill and Pat lost their home, along with his studio in the tragic Tubbs fire that swept through their neighborhood in Santa Rosa. Left with only a handful of paintings located in galleries showing his work, and no studio or supplies, Bill found himself in the position of starting again; but this time with a wealth of insight that is born of the crucible of fire.
“I may have lost 146 paintings, but I did not lose the experience of having created them."
- Bill Gittins
Grateful that neither of them was physically harmed, Bill continues to find the wisdom in the process of interpreting the effects of the conflagration on his soul and in his art. These are the kinds of life-experiences that can mature and perfect an artist. As Bill endeavors to bring beauty out of the ashes, we will all find ourselves immensely fortunate to have the opportunity to follow Bill Gittins’ art journey and share in his new synergy of life and art.
How long have you been painting and how long did it take you to develop your style? How has your practice changed over time?
I started painting in the mid-1980’s. I was in search of a means to relax and to find an “escape” from the pressures of working in an intense corporate work environment. I started painting with watercolors, moved on to acrylics and then transitioned to oil painting in the mid-2000’s, utilizing both brushes and pallet knives.
As to “style” of painting, I am a Colorist. Colorists see color intensely; as you can see in my work. Color becomes the dominant feature of the resultant work of art, more important than its other qualities. While some colorists come by this ability naturally, other colorists study color with a colorist to see hues that are normally overlooked. I came by the style naturally and I feel I live in much brighter world than what most people see!
What inspires you?
My desire to paint was a serendipitous result from me personally seeking an outlet in the mid-1980’s from the stresses of my day-to-day corporate work environment. My father started painting when he retired in the early 1970’s. As it turned out, he very quickly became a very good artist and told me it was the most relaxing thing he had ever encountered. Both of us were “ever-seekers”…ever seeking friends, challenges and opportunities.
As a metaphor to this, one will, more often than not, find roads, paths, tree lines or waterways leading your eye into my work; an artistic element of my process, rich in symbolism and intrigue. Where might we be heading…what lies ahead? Embarking on each piece, I see my palette as the trailhead of a new adventure that awaits both me and the observer of my work. Applying those first applications of paint, the journey to another wonderful destination begins.
Name three artists who have inspired you and/or why.
Vincent Van Gough, Paul Cézanne, Pierre Bonnard and various artists of the Fauvism movement of the early 1900’s.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
“You are better than you think!”
Where can we find your artwork?
Original and Giclée works can be viewed year around in Bill’s studio [B-5] at Fulton Crossing Artisan Studios & Gallery, at Corrick’s Gallery in Santa Rosa, the Sonoma County Art Trails Open Studios Program; held during the first two weekends of October, the Permanent Art Collections of both Sutter Hospital and Kaiser Hospital in Santa Rosa and various gallery and show locations announced throughout the year.
Bill Gittins studio is located at Fulton Crossing Art Gallery at 1200 River Rd, Fulton, CA. Studio #B5. Come by and watch him work!