When artist Gay Waldman was in kindergarten, her teacher sent her home with a note that read: “Gay will be an inspiring artist one day.”
Waldman said her father thought she would never make a dime as an artist.
“I wish he was alive today,” she said, knowing that he would be proud because she took her passion and ran with it, earning many dimes.
Currently she is working on completing her latest commission – a public piece for the Spokane Convention Center, which entails four 10-foot-by-10-foot pieces called “Why We Live Here” that represent the four seasons. The work will be dimensional; manipulated photos printed on aluminum, segmented, and then woven together.
Waldman, 52, never took an art class in high school, only because she saw it as a class where kids slacked off. She wanted something more serious so she waited until college, graduating from Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston with a bachelor’s degree in art with an emphasis in design.
Her first job was at Nordstrom creating displays. Then she took a framing job, which allowed her to share her own work and meet local artists. She worked in framing for 16 years, learning the business side of art.
All the while she created art, first as a painter. After years of snapping photos of things she wanted to paint, she made a darkroom in her South Hill home where it remained for 20 years. Now it’s a laundry room, and most of the basement is filled with her framing studio after deciding 10 years ago to make a go of it on her own.
She mixes everything she’s learned – display, framing, painting, photography and business – to create renditions of what catches her eye including water, rocks, trees, buildings, animals, foliage and flowers, hobby inspired pieces like musical instruments and sailboats, and flowing abstracts.
Her work begins with the click of the shutter.
“I love creating and exploring the possibilities of enhancing an image and seeing my expression and interpretation unfold. The photo is my canvas, and I add color, shapes, and lines to make the form and design stronger,” she explained, adding that a teacher once told her that “it’s all been done before, so take control and make it your own,” and so she has.
She has shown in dozens of juried, invitational and solo exhibits, and won numerous awards. Her work is in more than 20 permanent collections including a hospice in England, area businesses, and private homes from Spokane to Las Vegas, and she has done many commissioned pieces.
On Saturday, Waldman will be participating in the Little Spokane River Artist Studio Tour where she and more than two dozen other artists will exhibit their work in an array of mediums in five studios within easy distance of one another.
“It’s about looking twice,” Waldman said, “There’s always more to see.”