• Laurel Contributor

Painting Personalities

by Donna Rhodes

Patti Gilley is most at home in a woodland, pasture, or field observing the wildlife, making sketches for future paintings, taking photos, and breathing in the delicious mountain air.

Painting called to her early on. She took an art class in high school. After graduation, Life pulled her in a lot of directions, all welcomed. It wasn’t until she married, had a family, and launched her kids that she finally got back to painting.

Her father-in-law loved antiques and delighted in the stories they told. His influence led her to paint images on relics, starting with old saw blades.

Patti took a few painted blades and furnishings to an art show and came home with $300 in her pocket.

She thought, “My goodness! This is so very wonderful!”

And she continued painting antiques until the craze faded. Then Patti began painting wildlife on canvases. There was no shortage of paintable critters on her property outside Murphy. Trout-filled streams, deer, raccoons, elk in the adjacent Smoky Mountain National Park, fox (both red and gray), turkey, wolves (at a rescue facility in Georgia), butterflies, horses, bears, wood ducks and other waterfowl. And field mice!

What’s so special about field mice? Well, Patti’s horses are super sensitive to any unusual movement. When something even as tiny as a field mouse races across their path it can send them skittering. So the field-mouse-and-horse has become a favorite theme in her repertoire.

Patti works in acrylics. She says, “At first I tried oils, but I dragged my hand and sleeves through everything. I discovered that acrylics dried fast, so that became my medium of choice. My shirtsleeves and everything they touched were grateful.

“I work for the personality of the animal to come out. I want the viewer to feel what I felt when I saw the animal or when I was painting it.” Capturing an animal’s disposition is what keeps Patti’s customers coming back.

Check out her work, leave a message, or purchase a painting online at patti.gilley.pixel.com. Her email is abrushwithwildlife@frontier.com. You can call her at (828) 837-2563 or email for a studio appointment/visit. See her work in Highlands at Peak Experience; or Tsartistry, on Cullasaja Vista Lane in Franklin. Some commission work is accepted.

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