Lorna Gabel | “Small Worlds”

Art Beat

“Rajah Brookes Birdwing” by Lorna Gabel

“Every painting is a world unto itself, real or imaginary,” says Hamilton artist Lorna Gabel. “I believe the intimate size of small-format works invites and welcomes the viewer into the worlds of the flora and fauna depicted in my images.”

Gabel, whose works are on display at the Artists’ Shop in Missoula through Jan. 31, graduated from Western Montana College in Dillon (now The University of Montana Western) with a degree in secondary education. She eventually moved to Guam, where she spent nine years teaching middle school art.

“One of the first things I was told was not to teach ‘all Western art,’ so I started studying the art of Asia and the Pacific,” she recalls. “I traveled extensively during summers and holidays and became fascinated by the difference in aesthetics between Occidental and Oriental art and the differences in the rules, or lack thereof, for creating a painting.”

She spent two summers in Bali, studying traditional Balinese painting, predominantly working in the Burung dan Bungah (Birds and Flowers) style – a colored drawing technique using India ink and paint to create small works that focus on nature.

When she finally returned to the States, she continued to incorporate this approach. Although tropical themes sometimes emerge, “most often I interpret the natural world around me … in a personal synthesis of Occidental and Oriental aesthetics and techniques.”

She currently paint birds, flowers and critters in her studio above Art City in Hamilton, and continues to promote art education through the Committee for Art in Our Schools (CAOS). Lean more about her work at www.mtart.com/gabelgal.htm.