In today's 'Who's That Girl' interview, we sit down with Gayle - a London based portrait painter, creative writer, and the girl behind Gayle Paints Portraits. We talk about keeping inspired as an artist, her VERY fabulous hair, and why her faith plays a big part in her creative journey...

You have a really unique style when it comes to painting portraits. Did you have a particular process when it came to finding and developing your own painting style?

Over time my portraiture has developed in almost every aspect. When I was younger the idea was more about getting the portrait to look exactly like the person I was painting. These days I’ve found my focus has shifted more towards the vibe of the person based on the photograph, or perhaps, if I know them personally, I’ll go off what I know about them. Ultimately, it is to do with how I am feeling and thinking at the time I am creating. If I feel joy, I’ll paint joyfully. Sometimes I’m more care-free about my strokes, the textures and the colours of the painting than other times. It just depends literally on, “how I feel”.

Where do you get the inspiration for the paintings you create?

I’ve always been a heart person and a feelings person, so to speak. So, whenever I’m painting, I depict what is within. I say this all the time that, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks”. In the art-sense, what I think, feel or know, that is what speaks. So, all this joy that I speak of, is all to do with Christ. He has given me that inner peace, that comfort, that passion that has no choice but to burst through in my paintings. I’m inspired by portraying people the way the abundance of my heart perceives them. The more good in me, the more good I see and thus I paint.

You write very open and honest blog posts that accompany the art you make - from poems, to the things you’ve learnt on your faith journey. Have words and art always gone hand in hand for you?

One hundred percent! I have a little mantra that I wrote on my bedroom wall sometime late last year which says, “Writing and painting is a part of my life. It can never be stopped, it can never be quenched. It is a part of my God-manufactured design. Simple.” At different periods in my life, I find myself using different means to express myself. Sometimes its writing, sometimes its painting and sometimes it is a combination of both. I think, grow, learn and understand more about myself and the world around me more when I overly express my mind and evaluate things externally, which empties out my heart out in the process and allows me to breathe easy.

Who are your favourite artists at the moment?

Hmm, you know what, I’m not sure I have favourites but more so strong influencers. At the moment, I like Mikela Henry-Lowe, Serena Saunders, Soji Adesina and Kwesi Botchway. Their use of colour and the mind behind their work is what I appreciate in theirs or in any artist’s work. It’s not just what you are painting but why are you painting it…

You grew up and currently live in London - one of the most diverse and vibrant cities in the UK. Has living here had any influence on your art?

Most definitely. I’m a storyteller at heart, I observe and I document. Over time, I’ve been painting a series of self-portraits which examines my life thus far. I’m looking forward to sharing it with everyone in my solo exhibition this October. London’s culture, fashion, morals or the lack thereof has all informed my practice and has almost, in a sense, called out in me a responsibility to show and tell how my life has been impacted by this city and more.

What advice would you give to other artists who are in the process of finding their own style, who may want to share their work with the world?

If someone else is doing it – do it anyway. It’s simple and yet so complicated to those who allow it to be. Most artists will have the instinctual, “Their work is better than mine” or “What difference will my work make when so many people are doing the same thing.” But that is no reason to stop what God has put inside of you, which is a gift. A gift to be given back to Him by serving others with it. Those people who see passed those comparisons will finally break through and begin the journey to freedom in creativity. Your style will come as you continue to build upon your craft and work on it, everyone starts out rusty even if no one else says it. It takes diligence, consistency and a good belief system. So, I say do it anyway. Pray and do.

I must admit, I’ve always had a big crush on your fabulous hair! Do you have a go-to product or tip that keeps your tresses looking as glorious as they are?

Haha thank you! I try and keep it simple. Water and oils. If I don’t feel to blow out my hair I add a mixture of almond, argan, black castor oil and raw shear butter to my damp hair and do random, medium sized bantu knots and leave them to air dry. When I take them out the curls are so bouncy and lush, I love them!

Now, which three songs are on your painting playlist?

Ouu, where do I even start? Sabrina Claudio – Orion’s Belt, Sean C Johnson’s Molasses and Xavier Omar – If This Is Love.

Finally, we want to know where you see yourself in 5 years-time?

I’d love to continue painting and perfecting my craft. It’s all about how I can glorify God the most with my talents, in whatever capacity and also having the boldness to share it with everyone humbly. Painting, writing, more exhibitions, more painted commissioned pieces, teaching perhaps? – whatever the next 5 years looks like, if it’s done with Christ, I’m game. Let’s see what He will do…

If you want to find out more about Gayle and her work, you can follow her blog and Instagram!

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