Artists You Need to Know: Gayle Kabaker – Commercial Illustrator – Turning Special Meaningful Moments into Paintings


As a commercial illustrator, I am used to assignments where art directors ‘tell me what to do.’ Painting for myself and simply for the joy and fun of it is becoming very important to me. I sometimes sell my originals and more often sell prints. In the past few years, I’ve started traveling more and painting and photographing on my travels. I love catching special, meaningful moments to turn into paintings later. Showing ‘connection’ seems to be a theme for me these days. And I am especially inspired in a hot climate near the ocean!

I became vegan 2 1/2 years ago and as a result, I am very passionate about food and making delicious meals.

I also became a first-time dog owner a few years ago – so I’d say travel, food and dogs are three of my big passions and a huge source of inspiration to me.


As well as painting, I love working on animations. I just finished one for a travel company that I am really proud of. I worked with a great animator,, and my daughter Sonya Kitchell wrote the catchy theme song. While sometimes it’s scary and overwhelming, I love being the creative person in charge of a project like this. It really pushes me, and I always learn a lot.

Where do you want to go? from gayle kabaker on Vimeo.

Do you have a favorite animal?

Four years ago I became a dog owner for the first time in my adult life, so lots of changes in my life in the last 4 years! My dog Charlie is a huge inspiration to me and I just love painting dogs. I’m a recent dog loving convert ( for years I thought I was allergic ) now I’m a bit of a born again dog person. I stop to pet dogs all the time


Here are some paintings from recent trips to Grenada, where I was invited to come paint the experience of being at an amazing estate



Having my work on the cover of the New Yorker four years ago (“June Brides” celebrating gay marriage) was a huge milestone in my career and I’ve been submitting ever since. Many of my New Yorker cover ideas end up as some of my favorite pieces.


This was a summer cover submission. A fantasy – as my dog Charlie doesn’t swim and that’s him leaping out front.


A fashion submission.


Attribute from my mom.

She was a fearless woman. She’d often say whatever she wanted and didn’t really care what people thought. This painting of her was when she was pregnant with me.

Greatest gift to a person.

To inspire them in some way. To encourage them to go for that thing that they’ve always dreamed of doing, or to inspire them to eat healthier, or be more tuned into themselves… or talk them into getting a dog….!

Music is really important to me.

My daughter Sonya Kitchell is an amazing musician and I traveled with her for the years when she was a teenage musician. Listening to music, going to shows and festivals has always been a huge part of my life.

This is a portrait I did of her – a bit of a tighter style for me.


I love doing portraits.

My son Max. I love changing it up with painting in different ways. sometimes very painterly, sometimes more detailed with line. Or just line. Keeps things interesting.


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