Gillian Bedford - Bemidji Backyard in Snow

December 5, 2019 Listen to KAXE interview with Katie Carter and Gillian Bedford >>

Painting in the style of “plein air,” Bedford leaves the studio behind in exchange for natural light where she can experience transitions found in the outside world. She paints plein air the lakes, bogs and trees that create the landscapes of northern Minnesota.

Often using the motif of a window, her paintings reflect on the contrast of “inside” and “outside,” perhaps as metaphor for life as we know it and life beyond our senses.

Bedford is motivated to paint in order to bring permanence to an impermanent world. When she paints, it gives her a connection to her deceased mother, father and brother.

Her paintings represent the contradictions between the wonderful experiences versus the challenges of living on this earth.

Bedford is a prolific painter. She loves bringing joy to homes with her paintings. Victoria Donahoe of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote with praise regarding Bedford’s work in a show at the Cheltenham Center for the Arts and at the Old City Jewish Arts Center in Philadelphia.

Artist Statement

In 2019 I moved from the bustling Philadelphia suburbs to the quiet of rural northern Minnesota. The Northwoods gave me the space to root into who I am. The lakes, rivers, and sky have stirred a fresh sense of freedom within me and my artwork. Although I  lived in a religious town in Pennsylvania, my experience with faith has expanded. My art is here to remind us of our spirits and their unique paths.

The wilderness invites me to listen to the honest voice within. By painting the emotion of the moment, I have found that there is joy, pain, and blessings in life. Making changes can allow us to feel movement inside ourselves in ways we did not foresee. Learning about our soul does not come from following another person’s written definition, but it is a personal journey. My paintings are a reminder to listen to the spirit within and to not be afraid of your own voice.

Artist Biography

Gillian Bedford received a BFA in painting, magna cum laude, from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art. Painting was not Bedford’s first choice of medium; after exploring photography, jewelry, and ceramics, she found her true home in painting. Bedford loves the feeling of putting paint on canvas and the ability to use large amounts of color.

Born to a highly-gifted, though untrained artist mother, who herself sprang from a line of artists, Bedford shied away from drawing and painting because her mother’s ability to render visual images with just a few strokes of pencil or pen was very intimidating. Bedford’s eye, hand, and sensibility pulled her to painting suggestions and emotions rather than exacting images. It took her some time to embrace her own gifts, especially since her mother’s bout with cancer left Bedford motherless while still a teenager.

After her father’s unexpected passing, Bedford made paintings that are other worldly and about the transition from this life to the next. She contemplated transitions or contrasts. Often using the motif of a window, her paintings reflect on the contrast of “inside” and “outside,” perhaps as metaphor for life as we know it and life beyond our senses. She is unafraid of painting what is physically impossible—a shadow or ridge on a large leaf moving on and off the leaf as if the shadow  were an entity capable of existing apart from the structure that gives it existence, light coming through matter as if the matter were transparent, or yellow wind blowing in and out of a window—all giving a sense of a world in which our feelings become visible. In Bedford’s work inner landscapes become both visible and charged with emotion.

A recent show called “Memories” is a continuation of this idea and each painting carries a different mood. Some are quiet yet colorful, like “Transitions no. 4.”  Others, like “Inspiration” have louder colors. As noted before, “Transitions no. 1” captures a mood of soft yellow wind blowing in and out of two windows, just as if a person has passed out of this life. The show also consists of bright memories without windows such as “Memories no. 1” and “Memories no. 2” about being outdoors as a child. “Docile Hills no. 2” captures a very soft and tranquil mood.

Bedford is motivated to paint to bring permanence in an impermanent world. When she paints, it gives her connection to her deceased mother, father and brother.

When looking at these paintings, the artist hopes to show how wonderful as well as how difficult life on this earth can be.

A series of paintings reflects Bedford’s travels in the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas which then influenced her current work. After traveling through Arizona, and, especially amongst the Saguaro cacti, she began to paint the cacti with an underwater influence, to give the feeling that all of nature is connected. She also spent time in Sedona and made a plein air painting of a mountain range looking water like and rocky at the same time.

Thinking of this idea, Bedford used contrasting colors of deep blue which could look like the sky or the ocean and deep orange colors to paint cactuses and mountains. She used a color palette of Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow, Rose Madder Deep, Magnesium Blue and Ultramarine Blue to capture this deep and colorful color combination in all of her works starting August 2017. This color combination was taken from what the artist, John Laub, used, after Bedford saw a show of his work at the Woodmere Art Museum, Chestnut Hill, PA.

Bedford has also traveled to the small lake in her family’s vacation spot in Hazlehurst, WI. Her family has owned this property on the lake for 100 years and she has many images of water lilies in different moods inspired from it as well as boaters and swimmers depicted.

Three years ago Bedford has made paintings of the ocean in California, Oregon and Washington as well as beach scenes there.

Now she resides in Bemidji, Minnesota and has fallen in love with painting the bogs, lakes, trees and meadows of her surroundings.

Bedford gives paintings to various organizations for auction including, Loving Arms Mission in Nepal, a New Church project for Kenyan orphans, and the Cheltenham Center for the Arts. Bedford belongs to an art organization called MamaCITA and has shows with them. She is prolific and has sold paintings to happy fans and loves bringing joy to their homes with her paintings. Victoria Donahoe of the Philadelphia Inquirer has written with praise about Bedford’s work which was in a show both at Cheltenham Center for the Arts and at the Old City Jewish Arts Center, Philadelphia. Bedford won awards at the Cosmopolitan Club in Philadelphia, the Tyme Gallery of Havertown, PA and the Temple Beth Or in Springside, PA. Early on in her career she won the Rowland Rice Memorial Prize at the Samuel Fleisher Art Memorial, PA. Her paintings hang in homes in Germany, Sweden, South Africa and the United States.