Gail Casazza’s favorite activity as a child was coloring with Venus Paradise pencils and watching John Nagy on television, which started her journey with art lessons.
After graduating from high school, she decided to pursue painting in oils. Painting was put aside when she started raising a family, but she never lost her love of art.
Many years later, Casazza took a watercolor class. In 1992, she graduated from Brookdale Community College in New Jersey with a degree in communication design. During her time at Brookdale, she illustrated the how-to book Pearl and Bead Stringing with Henrietta, published in 1989.
In 2002, she began eight years as an art instructor with Anthony Ventura in Neptune, N.J. Ventura is a member of the American Watercolor Society, New Jersey Watercolor Society and the Salmagundi Art Club in New York City. Through him, she learned composition, design and mixing color.
“His paintings inspired me to challenge myself to take each painting to a new level,” she said. “I kept all of the paintings that I didn’t like so that I could see if I was improving or not. It’s about persistence and trying again no matter how difficult a new subject might seem.”
Her favorite artists are Stephen Quiller for acrylics, and watercolorists Lucy Willis from Great Britain, and Tony Couch, whose style is similar to Ventura’s.
Casazza’s home studio is filled with art instruction books she started buying in the l980s. “I always pull out Tony’s or Stephen’s books for reference,” she said.
For inspiration, Casazza would visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Frick Museum in New York.
“I was so inspired and renewed to make art, and it was energizing,” she said.
In 2009, Casazza and her husband, Bob, retired to North Augusta. While landscapes are her favorite subject, she also enjoys painting portraits.
“Traveling on the back roads of Aiken and Edgefield counties presents a lot of opportunities for me to take photos of old barns, cows and horses,” she said. “I never tire of looking at (cattle) or horses in the fields and find them wonderful subjects to paint.”
For the past two years, Casazza has donated paintings to the Mount Vintage Victors for the Cure golf tournament, a benefit for the Breast Cancer Prevention Coalition (BCPC). Both entries sold at the live and silent auctions.
“The BCPC is a wonderful organization,” she said. “It gives me a great deal of satisfaction to be able to donate a painting to raise funds for this worthy cause.”
She plans to donate her painting, Mount Vintage Gardens, to the upcoming tournament.
Recently, Cassaza’s neighbor, Karen Marks, who was receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer, was given three art lessons by Casazza as a gift from Marks’ husband.
“Those lessons inspired Marks so much she has created cards for breast cancer that have proved very successful,” Casazza said.
She can be reached at email@example.com or (803) 426-8250.
BETH JONES IS THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE NORTH AUGUSTA ARTISTS GUILD.