Skye Gentle is a visual artist living in Spring Lake in the wooded dunes. She is married to Joe, a teacher and coach in North Muskegon, and is the mother of two adult children. Skye and Joe now share their home with their daughter and their two dogs. Skye has been an artist as long as she can remember, her first commissioned piece was in the first grade; a Nativity Scene done on the chalkboard in her classroom.
She was admitted into a pre-med program but decided that she would be brave and do what she loved the best – art. At the time, she was at the University of Michigan, and even though she was accepted at Pratt Institute in New York for fashion design, she stayed at the University of Michigan and earned a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts in painting and drawing.
Skye has a studio in her home although she does spill over into other rooms of their house. Their older dog can’t get downstairs and gets upset when Skye goes down into her studio. In the summer the deck is perfect for painting because of the light. When she is doing sky scenes (especially reds), hummingbirds hover nearby, hawks swoop past and some days the waves of Lake Michigan can be heard.
Who are you?
I am an artist, a person who lives on this planet at this point in time. I’m just trying to do the best I can with the talents I have to make the world a better place. I think music is the most important other thing in the world, integral to my work. Walking in the woods (nature) is the other. I will probably always live near big water because of the energy. I believe in metaphysical or out-of-the-mainstream sorts of things, things that haven’t yet been scientifically proven. Whatever people believe is what they experience; lives are very personal.
What do you love about where you live?
I love that we live so close to Lake Michigan and that we’re surrounded by the woods and the dunes. I love the house, too with its big rooms and light. It’s on a hill so we get to “survey the domain.” We are looking forward to the time when we can spend two or three winter months in another country, maybe Spain, maybe an Eastern European country if our son locates there. We would also like to spend time in Chile, Morocco, the Greek Isles and the list goes on.
What might your perfect afternoon look like?
My perfect afternoon would be filled with everything important to me, including some magic. It would be warm and sunny with an impending storm, I’m out on the deck painting. The storm comes in and I get everything inside in time. There’s a big thunderstorm and when it subsides I go out for a walk with Mikey, our Doodle, in the warm rain. There’s a beautiful path we follow out to the lake, and as it goes north, we climb to the top of a sand dune through the woods. Just as we get to the top, the sun comes out and I have my camera and get great photos of clouds and rainbows. I step just off the edge and discover that I can fly so I fly over the lake a bit. On the way back a cougar joins us on our walk. She leads us through the woods to her kittens and I get some great pictures. When we get home, my son and daughter are there cooking supper and happy to be home. Joe comes home in high spirits with a winning lottery ticket. We give to friends, family and community foundations with most of the winnings. I don’t have to say anymore because that would be all I’d need for the rest of my life.
If you had an hour alone in your studio/creative space, what would you do?
That’s a no-brainer – painting and drawing – and an hour goes by very fast.
When you need to simply take a breath and reground yourself, what do you do?
I usually go for a walk. If I can’t for whatever reason then I look at picture books, read science magazines or play the piano to visualize and get ideas. I also might do sudoku, crosswords or website work because that uses different parts of my brain.
How do you nurture your creative dreams?
I just am always thinking and looking at different things. I think one of the most important things is keeping it happy. It has to be fun. If I get stuck, I try different things. I love to solve problems.
Does your heart have a secret wish you want to share?
Nothing really secret. I would love to go to a workshop at the Monroe Institute in West Virginia. They teach people how to go out of body.
When did you know you were an artist?
I think I always knew. I have this memory. Everyone around me was really tall so I must have been quite young. It was afternoon and the sun was casting shadows. It must have been sprinkling because the ground sparkled and I saw lines and shapes of bright green and gold and thought…WOW! I’m still noticing lines and colors around me, all the time.
What are your secrets for finding time for your art?
I’m really lucky in that regard because I work from home. I have to be firm with myself to not do too much housework, although it can be a good exercise break. When my kids were young, I had to tell myself to stop sending art-related ideas because I didn’t have time to even draw. Now that I have more time I’m always seeing cool pictures and designs in my mind. It’s very entertaining.
What advice would you give someone starting out to turn their creative dreams into reality?
You have to believe that everything is going to turn out OK. You have to have courage. You have to not worry about what people might say about your work. I think artists are usually very sensitive, which makes it more difficult to hear comments about your work.
If people are interested in purchasing your artwork, what is the best way to contact you or see your work?
My art is in the Synchronicity Gallery in Glen Arbor, the Gallery Uptown in Grand Haven and the Red Lotus in downtown Muskegon. Currently I have a temporary exhibit in the Bookman in Grand Haven. To get an idea of my work, see my website at http://www.skyegentle.com. My contact information is on my website. If you are really interested in something on the website try to see it in person. It’s the only way to see the texture, layers and real size of the painting.