2021 Emerging Artist: Gus Long
When asked how long he has been painting, Gus Long can give you an exact year/month/day timeline. The painting supplies were a Christmas present from his wife in 2017, and he first picked up a brush on January 3, 2018.
Why paints and brushes as a Christmas gift? An accident had almost left Long without a couple of fingers, and he had to leave his job as a golf pro. After some time the need for a hobby became clear, and his wife chose artist tools because he had a background in drawing. Painting, specifically in watercolor, seemed a natural progression.
The first painting: a tree. “I was looking out the window going, ‘I got a paint brush in my hand, and there’s a tree,’” he recalls. The rest is history. Only a month after picking up the brush, Long had a studio filled with art work.
Since then, Long has developed a style that’s all his own, but it’s one that even he can’t define. Yet, he relates, “People say they would recognize one of my paintings if they saw it and didn’t know it was mine.” That’s true even though one quick look at his Instagram account shows the wide range of subjects and color palettes Long employs. “I make my stuff up as I go,” he says. “I just have fun with it.” That’s because for him, painting is truly about experimenting and growing.
“I think my work is eclectic and rule-breaking,” he comments. “I like painting subjects that appeal to me. There are themes throughout my work, but I’d say it’s eclectic. For watercolor, it’s very bold. I like mixing gouache and watercolor. Even though they say you can’t put layers on layers in watercolor, I do that. And I will paint with a brush or palette knife, or an old credit card. For me it is really just about experimenting with the color and the water. I let the colors follow the water.”
For all that, there is one distinct Gus Long technique that keeps coming through in his 3D paintings. By layering individual paintings using archival glue, up to 50 paintings in one piece, he has created something entirely new. “What made me really fall in love with doing this was getting emails from people saying ‘You can’t do that!’ That just means I’m going to keep doing it!” Long shares, laughing. “I don’t like people telling me I can’t do things.”