Name: Gayle Wheatley
Age: That’s top secret!
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Occupation: Freelance artist and writer
At the age of five, Gayle Wheatley would paint in the studio next to her father. This early creative influence echoes across her paintings today. “My favorite subjects back then included purple unicorns with manes of fire, and underwater worlds. To this day if you look closely, fragments of those early obsessions are still present in much of my work, in updated form of course!”
Gayle also began journaling early, at roughly the age of seven, and it’s a practice that she has rigorously maintained since that point on. “I’ve got stacks of notebooks,” she says. “They definitely make for some entertaining reading when I get bored!”
She also writes poetry inspired by her voyages, blogs about art and travel at CultureVixen.com, and she’s in the process of compiling a book of her paintings, photography, and poems inspired by her time in Iceland.
Although she’s a California native, Gayle has lived in Florence, Italy and Osaka, Japan, and her wanderlust has taken her to five continents, thirty countries, and over three-hundred cities. This international exploration has had a tremendous impact on her art and writing, keeping her invigorated and challenged. Next stop: New Zealand and Australia, the sixth continent on her list, followed by an artist residency in one of her favorite countries, Iceland!
Perhaps the most distinctive thing about Gayle’s multinational quest for stimulation and fodder for her work is the variety of situations she’s found herself in while on the road. She’s driven her car into quicksand in Iceland – “Boy does a car sink fast!” – been stranded on a Greek Island, gotten scammed into taking a fake floating market tour by a monk in Thailand, and she was picked up by German police in Munich when she got lost at Oktoberfest. Her adventuring often has been mouth-first; while gallivanting across the globe she’s consumed poisonous pufferfish, skewered salamanders, “stinky tofu,” putrefied shark, and the still-beating heart of a snake tossed in a shot of vodka in Tapei!
When she’s not traveling, eating exotic delicacies, playing her pineapple ukulele, drawing space ninjas, or practicing the martial art of Jeet Kune Do, Gayle sets out on individual artistic missions. “I’ve pushed boundaries with my creative goals,” she says. “One year I challenged myself to paint 100 paintings in under a year. I reached my goal in just ten months and have been painting up a storm ever since.” She credits those months with spurring a ton of personal growth, as her ambitious painting schedule forced her to overcome many of her weaknesses and to explore her strengths as a painter.
Most days, Gayle rises early in order to begin work in the studio. “I make sure to get in time for painting and writing when my mind is the most fresh,” she says. After lunch she buckles down and starts what she refers to as “serious work time,” where she tends to various freelance projects, marketing, and the details of maintaining her business and brand. Although it’s grueling, the rewards are great. “I think the biggest challenge to being a freelance artist is facing rejection on a daily basis, maintaining a healthy ego, and mustering up the courage to continue to follow an unconventional course in life,” she says. “You just have to accept the fact that not everyone is going to understand the need to put everything aside in order to dedicate yourself to creating art.”
For her tenacious traveling and artistic endeavors, we think Gayle Wheatley is a Cool Girl! Check out her art and writing at GayleWheatley.com, and follow her on Twitter @gaylewheatley