By Marcia E. Gawecki
Gwen Novak likes to paint with light.
On her resume, she says she chases light all over the state, often getting up very early.
Recently, she submitted six new pastels about Garner Valley for The Acorn Gallery next to Café Aroma in Idyllwild.
Even though the award-winning artist lives in La Qunita, she adores Garner Valley.
“It’s a vista that changes with the seasons,” she says.
Oftentimes, Novak would pass by Garner Valley on her way to Idyllwild for plein air art shows. Although she hasn’t entered them recently, she has hundreds of photographs of Garner Valley, sometimes in the wee hours of the morning.
Some are created with pink or yellow flowers in the spring. Other times, it’s red grasses in the fall.
Novak works mostly from hundreds of photographs that she’s taken over the years.
She and her husband, Art, are retired, but Novak draws every day.
She uses pure pigments that are expensive, and are used to make paints.
“Some pigments are mixed with charcoal or chalk, but they’re expensive like $16 each,” Novak says. Some are hard as a pencil, while others are soft, and crumble away in her hands as she uses them.
The new pastels range in sizes from 8 x 10 inches, 11 x 14 inches and 16 x 20 inches.
Most of what Novak makes from sales is reinvested into gold-leaf frames and museum-quality glass.
She’s a true artist, who doesn’t have a web site with photos of her latest works, or even a business card.
“All I want to do is draw,” Novak says.
And she draws in her La Quinta studio every day. She draws desert scenes of the area, and sometimes draws pictures of the neighbor’s dogs.
Sometimes, one pastel drawing only takes a day to make. Four to five hours.
She sells about one pastel a month at the Acorn Gallery (next to Café Aroma) in Idyllwild. She doesn’t show her work at any other gallery because there’s no need.
“Gwen is on fire right now,” says Kirsten Ingbretsen, owner of The Acorn Gallery in Idyllwild. “We’ve sold a lot of her works recently.”
Sales range from two Garner Valley pink flowers to a Carlsbad seascape.
Customers who have lived in Garner Valley and the area appreciate Novak’s ability to capture the uniqueness of the terrain in different seasons. The pink and yellow flowers are abundant in the spring, while the red grasses are more prevalent in the fall.
“Garner Valley floods a lot,” says Novak. “Sometimes, the water takes on a pink look because of the algae in it.”
One woman in Idyllwild who bought “Yellow Winter,” which features snow in Garner Valley bathed in yellow light, liked it so much that she kept it for herself. She had originally planned on giving it to her daughter as a present.
Now she is eager to look at Novak’s new works, to see which one she’ll purchase for her daughter. Garner Valley is special to her because it’s where she boards and rides her horse.
Although Novak creates her pastels from photographs that’s she’s take over the years, she welcomes commissioned pieces. She’ll work from anyone’s submitted photograph, without obligation.
“If someone comes to me with a photograph of their favorite spot in Garner Valley,” Novak says. “I’ll create a piece or two from it, and there’s no obligation. If they like it, they can buy it.”
New works by Gwen Novak can be seen at The Acorn Gallery, next to Café Aroma in Idyllwild. For more information, call the gallery at (951) 659-5950 Prices range from $220 to $1,100 for larger, gold-leaf frames.
Copyright 2013 Marcia Gawecki Art. All rights reserved.