An interview with Gabrielle Rose in San Francisco, California

The first artist that I followed on Tumblr was Gabrielle Rose and so I’m very happy that she took the time to answer a few questions for our Artist Interview series here on The Watercolor Gallery.

How did you get started in watercolor?

I’ve always enjoyed drawing, even since I was little. When I started to settle into a style, I used india ink exclusively. I almost never added color to my works. (Here’s an example) Honestly, I was scared of ruining my work by adding color and being unable to change it! At some point, though, I started adding spots of watercolor, and then I became brave and started painting entire pieces. Now I use watercolor most of the time. I’ve honed my technique mostly through trial and error.

How have your tools changed from when you got started until now, and what are your favorite tools currently?

My tools still remain relatively basic. I’ve graduated from watercolor notepads to watercolor blocks. I love these because the paper is adhered on all four sides, so it doesn’t warp when it gets wet. As far as brushes go, I stick to my three favorite brushes, which include a medium round brush, a long-handled slender round brush, and a tiny, thin brush for details. The numbers have rubbed off the brush handles, so I can’t say exactly what sizes they are! I also have a few flat brushes that I occasionally use. Apart from brushes and paper, I like to add salt to dark washes, creating an almost starry texture. Sometimes I use masking fluid, too.

How do you prefer to work? Plein air, from a photograph, from memory? At a desk, outdoors, in a closet?

I typically just work at my little desk (which is really just a table) in my bedroom. Our apartment is very small. If I could have my own little art room I would! Maybe someday. For now it’s the bedroom. I don’t use references to paint since everything I paint just comes from my own imagination. Sometimes I’ll spend time looking at works by my favorite illustrators, and after absorbing it for a while, I’ll close whatever books I’ve been looking at and start painting. This way I feel inspired, but I’m not looking directly at another’s work. I often listen to music while I work, or to a podcast of something (usually something nerdy like This American Life or Radiolab). This actually helps me measure the amount of time I’ve been at work, which is helpful if I’m planning on selling an original. Then I know roughly how many hours of work I need to pay myself for and therefore how I should price a certain piece. Sometimes I find myself getting fidgety while painting, so much so that I’ll stand up and paint at the same time. It’s a weird combination of still being really focused on what I’m doing while at the same time being excited about it and having to wiggle or something. Does this happen to anyone else out there??

What has been your favorite painting or painting experience?

“Favorite” questions are hard! My favorite painting experiences are probably those that are part of collaborations. Two great examples include the work I contributed to the Spera comics and the illustrations I did for a music collaboration with my brother-in-law. It’s called Childhood Fears. The more collabs I do the more I realize that I enjoy working with other creative people. It helps me focus my energy and makes me think in new ways. I always end up being surprised at what I was inspired to make.

Name two watercolor artists, perhaps those who are currently inspiring you, that you’d like to have do this interview also.

Amber SeegmillerJennyfer Maria.

Many, many thanks to Gabrielle for sharing her work, her story, and her process with us. I have so thoroughly enjoyed doing these interviews with the artists that I’ve featured here on The Watercolor Gallery and I hope all of you have as well. You can expect more artist interviews in the near future.