Santa Fe artist Gay Paratore stands beside her watercolor, Ride Down Memory Lane.
Santa Fe artist Gay Paratore, a Galveston Art League member for 65 years, paints in oils, acrylics, watercolors, pastels, and mixed-media collage. Her other pursuits: working in glass, clay, and wood; making jewelry; weaving; and print-making. She teaches with University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Galveston, Butler Longhorn Museum in League City (once it reopens), her home/studio, and Woodlawn Museum in Maine. Paratore, 78, has taken workshops with over 100 noted artists as well as classes at National Academy of Art and Art Students League of New York City. Paratore sells her artwork in many places, including the Galveston Art League galleries at 611 6th St. N. in Texas City, which is participating in ArtWalk 5-9 p.m. Sept. 22, and 2117A Postoffice St. in Galveston, open until 9 p.m. for the island’s Aug. 25 ArtWalk. Paratore enters about 25 competitions a year, including the Texas City Art Festival and Galveston Art League and National Society of Artists shows, plus many national and international shows. She has won close to 500 ribbons and awards, with her favorites being Best of Show for National Watercolor Society, Galveston Art League, National Society of Artists, and Watercolor Art Society of Houston; and third place, watercolor, Portrait Society of America. Seeing a need for a national organization for artists in every media, Paratore founded the National Society of Artists in 1985. She is a signature member of National Watercolor Society, National Society of Artists, Texas Watercolor Society, San Diego Watercolor Society, and Watercolor Art Society of Houston. She shows work from California to Maine and in Italy, Spain, and China. Paratore’s work recently was featured in four issues of Southwest Art and the book Splash 19; her artwork was chosen for the cover of the UTMB book Burn Survivors’ Journeys. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Sam Houston University and a master’s from the University of Houston. Paratore, who has taught all levels, has served as art department head at Alvin Community College and taught art history at College of the Mainland. Below, she discusses her life and art. Q: What’s the most rewarding aspect of creating art? A: It relaxes me. I forget about worries and pain. I worked through my husband, Philip’s, death by painting two portraits of him. Q: What subjects do you paint? A: I do portraits, landscapes, seascapes, flowers, and automobiles, any car that shines. It’s not about the car. It’s about reflections in metal and glass. Q: Where do you find your inspiration? A: My seven grandchildren, ages 3 to 23. I’ve painted all of them at least once. Q: Do you work indoors and outdoors? A: Both. I can paint plein-air ― outdoors ― now with UV shirts from Cabela’s. I stay out for hours and don’t sunburn. I wear a hat, too. Q: How did your passion for art bloom? A: In second grade at St. Patrick’s School in Galveston, I drew my pet bunny so well that the nun, Mother Angela, declared me class artist. I named my daughter, who’s a portrait artist in Austin, after her. At eighth-grade open house, my drawing looked so much like the picture I used, all my friends’ parents urged my mother to give me art lessons. My mother said she couldn’t ― she had a business, Garrigan’s Sporting Goods, to run because my father had died one year earlier. But my friends’ mothers called her the next week and pressured her, so I took lessons from Italian-trained artist Marie Ragone, who studied at the Chicago Art Institute. From ages 11 to 17, I studied at Ragone Studio in the East End. When Mother was on her way to the store, she dropped me off. Afterward I’d walk home to the West End. Q: What’s your focus when painting? A: My first priority is good composition; second, skillful drawing; third, value contrast ― light against dark; and fourth, color for excitement. Artists are entertainers of the eye. Q: What advice can you give a novice artist? A: When drawing, set simple objects on a table with a light to one side. Stare at the objects more than at your drawing as you work. You must store the image in your brain before it can come from your hand. Visit art shows, galleries, and museums to see how artists use paint to capture their subjects. Q: Do you admire a famous artist? A: Mary Cassatt. Her work is soft and beautiful, capturing the love of mother for child. Q: If you won $5,000, would you spend it on art supplies? A: [Laughing] I’d probably put a down payment on a sports car, a Jaguar. I’m getting older and sort of running out of time, so I might as well have fun!