by Zaire Saunders
How do you come into the light of your own talent? For each person it’s different. Joy, grief and love all play a role in helping someone express something and step into a new life. In becoming something. For Ariane Gilmore, it was grief and a new manifestation she hoped for that turned her into an artist. I was lucky enough to talk with her in her home about her beginnings, her style and the pieces of art that hang on her walls.
Having skills in cosmetology, Ariane Gilmore is no newcomer to art and design. She comes from Berkeley, California, but now resides in Fillmore where she paints the majority of her work.
Her start in painting happened in an SRO (single room occupancy) hotel. She was overcome with grief after the passing of her grandmother in 2019: “I was really heartbroken at that moment. You know, great grandma is like the queen bee of the family, and I shut down.”
Living in an SRO in the Tenderloin, Gilmore said she felt trapped and in a deep funk when the voice called to her from a canvas: “Just paint” was what the voice said. But she was met with a familiar obstacle most artists face:
“I looked around and I didn’t even have anything to paint with, so I went to Blick Art Materials on Market Street.” Gilmore continues: “I really couldn’t afford much then. I didn’t even know how much it cost to do all that until I got there.”
Once finally supplied, Ariane dove deep into the work by painting all day, never ceasing even for a bathroom break or to eat. “I was in a trance-like state – more than just in the zone.”
If grief was the reason for her start, expression is the reason she continues. “Way back in 2019 was when I started, so it’s been about four years since and there’s been a lot that transpired – a lot of big things.” But those traumas didn’t keep her from expressing herself through painting.
A car accident in particular lined her up with one of her creative favorites. “I love Frida Kahlo. I’ve studied her whole creative process. That drive, teaching yourself, being optimistic and wanting to perfect yourself and your craft – I’ve really been inspired by her about that.”
She defines her artwork as having a lot of emotion as well as chaos. She also admits that is exactly how she feels about San Francisco. “The City in comparison to Berkeley is totally different. Berkeley is chill, everyone is relaxed, slower vibes. The City is louder and faster with so much going on. And to jump in so young shaped me.” She continues: “San Francisco has that drive and vibe: If you’re going to do it, do it.”
The collection she’s debuting Oct. 10, is called “Out of the Darkness.” This collection is dark and abstract. “I like to explore my inner self when painting. Not everything is negative. I just like to explore past life experiences or trauma,” says Ariane. “It’s just a release.”
There are also hidden meanings behind her craft – for instance, always painting in sets of three for one series. “My favorite numbers are three and nine. I’m spiritual and in alignment with the universe. If I do something, I NEED it to add up in regards to three or nine.”
Although she’s just beginning her solo debut, she does have some lessons she thinks would help young Black artists with dreams and techniques, “Go with how you feel. Don’t have an idea of what you want it to look like because when our expectations get in the way we don’t allow ourselves to be fully creative.
“I believe that creativity is God energy, like that God force that’s in every one of us. So being able to just flow and create, you’ll be amazed at what you come up with. I started here with these little pieces and then I moved to something bigger.”
You can check out “Out of the Darkness” on Sunday, Oct. 8, 1 p.m.- 6 p.m., at 1981 Sutter St., San Francisco.
Zaire Saunders is the copy editor and reporter for the SF Bay View Community Journalism Program, which is funded by the California State Library.