By Fran Pelham
Imagine a toddler cradling a large art book, half the size of herself. Gail South’s parents, both of whom were artists, let her pick up and page through their art books such as, Masterpieces of Art. When a painting caught her eye, three-year-old Gail would point to the page and beg her mother to tell the story of the painting. Her father also played a key role in the artistic development of his young prodigy. When she was five years of age, he placed a camera in her hands, encouraging her in their backyard to photograph birds and butterflies and whatever caught her eye.
Decades later Gail would pick up a camera once again and photograph the beauty of nature. This time, she would develop her photographs in a new media, beyond the watercolors and acrylics used by her parents and other traditional artists. That new art form was digital art; and Gail South has mastered the media into an elegant, vibrant art form.
Back in 1986 when Gail worked for IBM as a multi-media consultant, she noticed a secretary using clip art for a company newsletter. Fascinated by its versatility, South began experimenting with computer graphics it, eventually learning to use photo editing software. She wondered if this computer technology could be employed to create her artistic vision of photography. That desire, coupled with her expertise with a camera, galvanized her work into digital art. Her style emerged from this experimentation in enhancing photographs.
For South, experimentation is key to her art. “My parents painted in watercolor and acrylic. A mistake is not always easy to correct,” South says. “However, in digital art, which has a fractal/mathematical progression, I can reverse any step along the way.”
Light is highly important to her work, and “fantasy and layers of data lead to my best work.”
South hopes to leave a legacy of the “appreciation of beauty in the world around us, and in the tiniest of created things. We need to look at nature the way a child does with curiosity and wonder. The birds that land in my pine trees and the way light falls on a ripple in a wave, leave an imprint upon the land,” that South manages to capture in her extraordinary art.
In her work, South juxtaposes light, color, bold patterns, and interesting graphics. Much of her work was “accomplished on travel with my husband, Jerry, who is an important support in many ways. He’s my monopod,” she laughs. “I focus my Canon 5D on a subject, then lean on his steady shoulder to snap the photo. Invariably, I can’t wait to return home and print out my treasures.”
About the artist: Gail South has lived on Long Beach Island for thirty-six years. She is a founding member of the Beach Haven Community Arts Program and a former member of the LBI Historical Museum in Beach Haven. Gail and Jerry South owned and operated The Muscle Beach Club, a motel at Pearl Street and Atlantic Avenue in Beach Haven, Long Beach Island.