Gail, the Divine

Gail has the hardest time making up her mind when she works on her own art pieces. But at Divine Paint, that’s her job. A color consultant for the paint company, she gets paid to choose other people’s colors for their homes. Somehow, she has no problem in choosing for others, just for herself.

I first met Gail through her art work. I was drawn to the textures in her paintings — her work had a certain depth to it and I didn’t know why. Perhaps I sensed a kindred spirit through the canvas. When I read her titles, which alluded to Biblical themes, I was surprised. Gail evoked feelings on the canvas, but nothing was didactic. She allowed the viewers to make up their minds about what to think.

Later, I found she had torn pages from an old Bible to layer in the canvas. She kept it all hidden, smuggled under the layers of paint and Aquavar. I liked that. It seemed … authentic. She left out the exaggerations, the coverups, and the roundings-off. She didn’t add any commentary. It was just scripture underneath there — raw and unfettered.  

Looking at all this, I realize that I’m making Gail look very serious, but she’s not. She’s a riot. She says the funniest things. Elida and I joked about her needing to set boundaries in her life. Elida gave her a book called, The Disease to Please. There’s a test in it to find out how bad you are about trying to please people. Elida tested high, but as Gail and I were searching for a useable bathroom in Italy, she pulled me aside and confessed: she answered yes on every single question. Somehow, this made us laugh together, wedged between the wall and the tiny sink, trying to find the foot pedal to turn on the water.

But Gail’s 67 years hasn’t always been filled with laughter. When I was struggling about whether to take the job in Tualatin or La Grande, Gail wrote me a long comment about her own family’s daring move from a plush job in California to no job in Oregon.

Her husband, Lan, and Gail raised their four daughters away from what was comfortable — they made the adventurous decisions; they took the road less traveled. Going to Italy didn’t really seem to be the practical thing to do either, but her husband said, go. He added, when have we ever done the practical thing?

Gail said that her daughter, Dana, was the real artist. She should have been the one to come to Italy, not Gail. Or Christa. But then Christa reminded Gail that they’d already sent her to Italy after high school. Oh yeah, Gail vaguely remembers that small detail. Thank you, daughters of Gail, for encouraging her to go. She’s a wealth of wisdom and wit, and of laughter and fun. She’s brave and adventurous. All you daughters, I’m sure you know how lucky you are.

Gail was one of the last ones to sign up for Italy– after jumping on and off the train many times. After all, she reminds everyone — I just draw smiley facesElida just improves my smiley faces. I think not. That’s just not true. All Gail’s paintings include weavings, strings and threads going through them. The bumps are covered in ancient wisdom. Somehow you know the piece was painted with feeling, and it reveals something about its creator.

I’m not the only admirer. While we were traveling, we got the word that Gail sold her Genesis painting.


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