Gilly Gobinet remembers discovering her love for art. "My earliest memory of painting was when I was three-and-half years old, and I was drawing with wax crayons. They were pictures of people," she recalls.
Though widely known for her colourful creations, this multi-talented woman indulges in more than just art, and balances her endeavours with great precision.
Young Gilly wanted to go to art school, but then her mother said "If you are able to draw, you will always be able to draw. I want you to have a career." So she did.
She attained a degree in biology, and then got her first job as a scientific information officer at a veterinary laboratory. Next came a job as a ghost writer for a professor in London.
She's travelled far and wide, and written articles for popular publications.
When she moved to Antigua in 1984, she worked at a small real estate agency. She had a lot of time on her hands, however, and would borrow books from the Public Library. One day, a particular paragraph caught her attention: "If you really want to do something, go and do it.Don't worry about failures, as everybody is different. You have to work at it yourself."
The artist says, "That book spoke to me and I obeyed. That was the springboard that really got me up and going as an artist."
She started off doing pen and ink drawings. "There used to be an annual art event in St John's upstairs Bryson's where I submitted my pieces, and the response was pretty good. I even won a prize. At the same time, I was also doing cartoons. I always liked doing cartoons,and I also did Christmas cards with a Caribbean flavour."
She eventually quit the real estate job and started doing water colours. "With a lot of trial and error, being self taught, I was determined to succeed. But the biggest problem for me was I'd do too much detail. It was difficult doing that with water colours. However,little by little, I built up my clientele through reproduction of my water colours and calendars."
Over the years, she's sold over 300 images in print form or reproduction of water colours. The cruise ships and the all-inclusive hotel industry are regular buyers.
She says, "It's difficult to make a living selling original art.That's why I turned to reproduction prints." She also does similar work for clients in Grenada and St Kitts. Original pieces do well based on exhibitions and commissions.
Speaking of exhibitions, "Acrylic on Canvas" is the theme of her next exhibition to be put on at Harmony Hall on February 1. "It's the first time I'll be putting on acrylic on canvas," she says. "Until now all my exhibitions have been water colours."
Asked what pieces tickle her fancy she says, "I like nature, still life. I also like houses and nudes. If you look in my house you would see lots or nudes and nature. Art gives me this rush of creating something unique, just like when you birth a child. You feel wow, I have done this creation, and you get an awesome feeling. Sometimes art gives me that feeling."
Before she works, she must create the right space. "My environment where I work has to be beautiful and peaceful. My mentor once told me to create beauty around me and it will inspire me. I work from home,so I have the privilege to choose my work space."
In the midst of all of this, Gobinet has published a cool Caribbean book collection, with another series entitled the "Cool Caribbean liming ladies" coming soon.
Apart from her passion for art, Gobinet says she loves to cook, and "reading is my greatest form of relaxation." Asked if she thinks Antigua and Barbuda places enough emphasis on art, she replies, "not enough".
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