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Aug 11, 2021
Photo Credit: Emily Gilman Beezley
In the midst of the pandemic, Emily Gilman Beezley, an oil painter and mixed media artist, relocated her home and art studio to Wall Township NJ. We checked in with Emily to find out how she’s doing.
I was raised in Jackson Heights NY, where from an early age on I was always the artist in the family. Four years at the High School of Art in Design in Manhattan exposed me to a wide range of influences both artistic and cultural and although I dreamed of being a full-time artist, I did not have the confidence needed (and was fearful of being a ‘starving artist’). Somewhat serendipitously, I launched myself into a career in Financial Services technology working at Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley and more recently Oracle and Salesforce where Wall Street remained my primary focus. During these years, I took classes at the Art Student’s League of Manhattan and Parsons School of Design and I painted whenever I could but it was never enough…
When I first entered the business world, I declared that I would ‘be an artist’ when I turned 30. Well 30 passed me by and then 40 and 50 before I finally had the courage to make the leap. It really did feel like jumping off the cliff after so many years working in steady corporate jobs. So even though my goal has always been to be an artist, it wasn’t until I realized that my life was slipping away that I couldn’t keep my dream on hold any longer.
I have a powerful emotional connection to the Jersey Shore which elicits for me wondrous childhood memories of salt encrusted summers so different from the NYC environment where I grew up. Last year I relocated my home and studio to the Manasquan Park area of Wall Township, finally realizing my goal of living by the ocean - a constant source of inspiration and my happy place (despite her being a temperamental and moody muse who rarely sits still!).
Moving is always stressful but the pandemic added additional stress. I’m fortunate that my husband and children are thrilled to be living at the Jersey Shore especially now that area restaurants and shops are open and we can finally enjoy all that the Shore has to offer.
I find inspiration in real-life events and use then as a jumping off point for my creative realm. "The Ocean Speaks" series of artwork captures the ephemeral nature of rhythmic waves and sky at different times of the day. My“Ballet Rehearsal” of expressionist oil paintings is based on my love of ballet both as a student and dance Mom and an epic recurring dream of tidal waves resulted in my “Manasquan” dreamscapes. Since moving to Wall Township I am creating large scale Jersey Shore inspired artwork that I term ‘CurviDeLinearism’, semi-abstract paintings emphasizing outlines within the compositions.
My biggest challenge was believing in myself and my artwork. It was hard for me to even say I was an ‘artist’ without feeling inadequate. Getting testimonials from my happy clients and winning prizes, including a ‘Best in Show’, in juried art competitions have greatly eased my insecurities. Last year I was awarded a large public art commission beating out over 500 applicants. This was a huge win and confidence-booster!
Art sales are tricky - people don’t need to buy artwork, it’s a luxury purchase, so it is important to connect with individuals and businesses on a personal level. Many of my sales are a result of my email newsletters where I discuss my inspirations and process as well as showcase new and developing artwork. Since Covid, personalized zoom consultations are popular and I am now able to host Open Studio events. I also give back to the community with a portion of my proceeds benefiting a low cost spay/neuter animal shelter.
In January I announced that I would be offering fine art reproductions of my original artworks. This has allowed me to offer artwork at a lower price point and continue to monetize artwork after I’ve sold it. The prints have been so successful that I just launched merchandise including mugs, totes bags, puzzles, phone cases, tee shirts and coasters.
Creating art in my own studio is such a privilege, it doesn’t feel like work and I don’t take it for granted. I do have a tendency to lose myself when I am in the studio. So when I come up for air I spend time with my family and friends. Of course this past year has been challenging - I’m fortunate that creating art has always been an emotional outlet for me.
I love to dance and you can find me dancing in the studio when the mood strikes. I also bodysurf in the summer and snowboard in the winter and recently I’ve been exploring miles of single track mountain bike trails in the Manasquan River Wildlife Management area and Allaire State Park.
I’m looking forward to traveling again! Travel has inspired much of my artwork and it is such a great way to reset how your eyes see and recharge in general.
Photo Credit: Dennis Beezley
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