Books in Gayle Lee's library are divided into three personal influences of Chinese philosophy, watercolor painting and gardening. She combined her passions which led to a breakthrough in digital art, a revolutionary type of art she is showing in the upcoming Alexandria Festival of the Arts.
"As you get older, you start combining all your talents," Lee said. "We are the sum of all of our experiences."
Digital art is a method that combines computer skills, an eye for art and a little luck. Lee started with a flower from her garden, placed it out on the scanner and covered with a silk cloth.
"It was a fluke," she said.
With an advanced printer, Lee makes prints of the pictures and has since moved into printing the pictures on cloth to be used as scarves.
"It's very cutting edge," Lee said. "Digital art on fabric is cutting edge. There are not many of us but there will be."
Lee has lived in Springfield for 27 years, raising four children and painting in watercolors, a skill she started when she was 8-years old. She has a associates degree in fine art, a bachelors degree in sociology and a masters of fine arts in painting. Around Springfield, Lee was a member of the Springfield Art Guild and is currently a member of the Springfield Garden Club.
Skeeter Scheid is a current member of the Springfield Art Guild, which incorporates various art mediums at the monthly meetings.
"I know a lot of artists that do things with a computer," Scheid said. "They're using tools that are newer. There's just as much skill involved."
OVER THE YEARS, Lee studied with a Chinese master painter, Mr. Chang, who was the grandson of a royal court painter. "The Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting" by Wang An-Cheh, was also a big influence on Lee. Intertwined in the book were the teachings of the Tao, an Eastern philosophy that influenced Lee.
"That was a tremendous time," she said. "It was such an honor. My whole life changed with the study of the Tao."
A friend recommended that Lee learn the Photoshop program so that she could print her watercolor paintings and sell them. This brought together her three passions.
"I took three courses of Photoshop at the Corcoran School of Art," in Washington, D.C., Lee said. "After three semesters, I had created an art."
In 1995, Lee hosted a workshop, Abigail Lee's "Western Art, Eastern Spirit," at Ivy Imports in Maryland.
Home and garden shows is where Lee thrives, showing her art in an artsy craftsy atmosphere, where one format is not dominant. She just finished in the Sugarloaf Art Show in Maryland and hopes to get into the Boca Raton show in Florida as well as the Philadelphia Home and Garden Show, which is the top show to her.
"For me, it would be the pinnacle," she said.
Howard Alan, a well known promoter in the art world, puts on the upcoming show in Old Town Alexandria. Laura Overstreet, of the Alexandria Convention and Vistors Association, organized the show locally.
"We have more than 150 artists," Overstreet said.
Although this is the first Howard Alan show for Lee, she knows his persistence.
"He's a very good promoter. Have they ever let anyone else block the streets of Alexandria?" Lee asked.