With 35 years of oil painting experience under her belt, a host of exhibitions, and a Fine Arts degree, Gayle Reichelt is still pushing the envelope in the art world – by looking backwards. From exploring themes of history, decay, and time, to using techniques developed over 2,000 years ago, playing with “old” and “new” concepts seems to be a passion of this cutting-edge artist.
One of our favorite examples of Reichelt’s usage of an old technique in innovative new ways is Nets. Her masterful employing of encaustic as a medium resulted in this marine-themed piece. Encaustic is a technique that originated with the Ancient Egyptians and Greeks. From the Greek word enkaustikos, meaning to burn in, the process began with caulking ships with melted beeswax. The technique then moved into the art world and today there are over 600 Mummy portraits done in encaustic displayed in museums across the world.
Noisy Friar Birds 9 began with a photograph taken of birds in Reichelt’s back garden. She then used photoshop to take the background off and transferred the birds to the canvas. Accretion, a process of dry brushing encaustic medium in layers and fusing each layer with a heating torch to build up texture was used to create the framing effect around the subjects. Again the artist is playing with the themes of aging and ancient techniques in a fairly new piece of art.
Dragon Fly is another experiment with photoshop manipulation. Reichelt was working for an engineering firm, taking photos on-site of cranes and other large machinery. She manipulated the cranes into the abstract and then began to create. The mesmerizing circles, colored further by the grit of texture dotting out of the blue is the stunning result.
Reichelt admits to being torn about whether she is an artist in the realism camp or the abstract camp. From the abstract Nets and Dragon Fly, to the technically complex Noisy Friar Birds 9, we come back to the realism of Margaret, a piece completed in 2008. Reichelt began with oil and has always been able to draw and get a likeness of figures. It usually takes her a few days to complete a portrait, so she began with a photo of Margaret in a pool and after a few days had this nearly living woman on canvas.
If your first exposure to Reichelt’s work is her abstract mixed media, you may never guess that she focused on abstraction in University as a challenge. Realism was her natural pull, but she wanted to learn to do abstract. This is where her love affair with rust as a subject began, as pictured in Cherry Venture – Abandoned, from her first exhibition, The Last Fleet. Occasionally Reichelt works from life, particularly in her early works. However, she will often begin with a photograph.
An example of this photography start to process is that while driving and trying to figure out her thesis in University, she spied some old machinery. She grabbed her camera and began photographing close-up shots of the rust.
Years later, Reichelt discovered The Cherry Venture, a shipwreck beached near her home in Queensland. She rediscovered her love of the texture and color that presents in rust and the Cherry Venture collection was the result.
Another shipwreck, the HMQS Gayundah, inspired several paintings. There’s something particularly striking about the scale Reichelt has conveyed in HMQS Gayundah – The Final Berth, using nothing but oil paints. The shadows, deep purples, contrasting with the rust-tones of the shipwreck itself put the viewer right on the beach, watching the Gayundah taken away in metallic flakes as the tide eats it up.
As For Business
Reichelt states that one of the biggest challenges of being an artist in 2016 is that if you’re not represented by a gallery, the only way to survive is to do your own marketing. And a lot of it. She writes that she’s still figuring out the best way to utilize social media, but that she knows doing a little every day is essential to stay relevant. She’s read up on everything she can get her hands on. Her best piece of advice for artists is to use any marketing platforms that are free and use them well. Learn what hashtags, spiel, and quality of image is effective. You have to be your own biggest advocate.