Gabrielle Strauss 

Lana Hart

Gabrielle and Lana are two artists that have exhibited with the Langley Arts Council time and time again. The two of them have unique styles that have been created over years of mastering their craft. The interview below was conducted between Lana Hart, Gabrielle Strauss, and Claire Sarfeld over email. In the interview below the artist's touch on their practice, the inspiration behind their artworks, and more. Read on to learn more about these two talented artists!

Will you please tell the LAC Community a bit about yourself, and how you became to be the artist you are?


For as long as I can remember, I have been creating something.

I grew up in a tiny village in Austria, in the midst of the Vienna Woods, where famous poets like Grillparzer and composers such as Schubert roamed the forests and were inspired to write their music /poems.

I was an only child until the age of 14, and art and being outside was pretty much the only thing that entertained me, living on my grand parent's farm, exposed to simple country life.

I have always been drawn to nature and take lots of inspiration from oceans, rivers, trees, sunlight, shadows, and my travels. 


I grew up in the shadow of my sister who was a very talented artist. As a young adult, I accompanied her to a series of oil painting classes. I was hooked! We studied under this artist, Dorothy Posiat, for about 5 years. Meanwhile, I was majoring in theatre design at UBC, designing sets and costumes, studying architecture and learning the history of art. I also studied under several different artists ending with the artist, Linda Jones. I worked with her for about 10 years. Our close-knit group of artists travelled to Europe to see first hand the history of the craft.

Did you have any classical training? Or where did your creative spirit come from?


I went to a Fine Arts School in Austria, and also graduated in classical guitar, but painting stayed my first love.

After High School, I studied art at a private school near Vienna.

When I came to Canada 31 years ago, I joined many arts groups and councils and watched monthly demos, also took several courses.

Robert Genn became one of my mentors, and I was lucky to have been invited to his studio numerous times, followed by him coming to my home to view and critique my work.

Why the title Whispers for your Duo Exhibition?


It was Lana's suggestion after we brainstormed for about five minutes. She will explain to you why this resonated with her, for me, it resonates with my love for nature.

I see the sun's whispers in my ocean paintings, with beautiful rays peeking through the clouds, or the wind gently moving the trees on a lake. The sunsets are whispering of another day gone by, one last chance to get a glimpse before it drops into the ocean.

Old homes are whispering their own stories, of the lives they have housed and given shelter to, the laughter, the sadness, life and death.

Flowers grown in my garden are whispering elegance, beauty, sweetness and joy, kissed by sunlight that makes them grow tall and colourful.

The Fraser River whispers about falling leaves that are playfully being carried along, children laughing and splashing, the tugboat slowly drifting by, dogs chasing balls, barbecues and celebrations, campfires, raindrops bouncing on its surface, and the last sun rays casting a beautiful orange.

Trees are whispering amongst each other about the upcoming storm on the lake, the winter, reaching out to the sun and connecting their treetops. Fallen leaves are whispering in the wind, gently drifting to the ground.

Lavender fields are full of whispers of busy bees, honey, dreams of abroad and summer.


A good number of my shows were based on my travels. I love to capture the little corners in a small town or places that tell a story. This probably came from studying set design, again setting the mood for the story. Other paintings whisper to me pleasantly moody moments. Colour plays into these moments. Colour used in certain ways makes me catch my breath.

You both tend to go across all subject matters for your work, how does this decision come about? Is it intuitive? Or do you plan your works as a series?


I work mostly in acrylics and mixed media. I love my houses and florals, and abstracts, and landscapes, and simply can't give up one or the other. I have tried and contemplated it many times. I need the variety and love the versatility.

I have a million ideas and plans for many a series and seem to need to switch it up ever so often.
All my abstracts and mixed media are purely channelled and intuitive, nothing is planned.


I plan a series by thinking of things that I love to paint. Travels, (my Irish Series, Italian Series, and Mexican Series) florals, animals ( I also do pet portrait commissions), Landscapes, Seascapes and the Whimsies. 

Is there anything else you do that is creative outside of painting?


I have had several attempts to learn how to play the ukulele, worked on a selection of jewelry from my artwork, create balloon decor in my other business, knit and crochet, and inspire and teach others to pursue their own artful expressions, amongst many other crafts over the years.


I became a potter in the early 2000s. I studied under local potters for years. I travelled to different Studios in BC to learn the different aspects of firing, and glazing. I, with a wonderful rake artist, started the Delta Potters Association and was instrumental in building a pottery studio in North Delta.

Lana, you've integrated yourself into the arts community, when did you join the LAC Board of Directors, and why did you choose to become a part of the Langley Arts Community?


My interest in community arts started back in the 1960s when I joined an Arts Society (Fraser Valley) in New Westminster, before the inception of Arts Councils (which came to fruition in the late 1960s). After moving to Delta and joining a local theatre group, through the group many of us joined the Delta Arts Council. There I became fully immersed in the world of Arts Councils. I joined the board in 1979 than in 1993 became an arts administrator for the Council. When I moved to Clayton I found the Langley Arts Council. It's always easy to find "home" when you are an artist. The Langley Arts Council was a good fit. I could carry on my involvement in bringing arts and culture to the community.

Do you have any advice for someone who is looking to pursue painting or any advice for someone who is looking to join an arts organization?


The Langley Arts Council offers new and ongoing classes and also opportunities to show your work.

I am teaching classes for both children and adults on a regular basis, as well as workshops and more, and would also suggest joining any local art group, as many of them have great demo artists every month.

Be brave and start, don't compare yourself to others, don't judge, be kind to yourself, do the 'ugly' painting, you might see it differently in a month, stay true to yourself, explore.
Robert Genn would tell you to go to your room and paint 100 paintings. Also, paint from your heart's desire, paint what makes you happy and not paint for what others might like. Be your best authentic self.


Try to take classes from many different artists. That way you will find your style.

Join your local Arts Council and be active in sharing your gift.

What is it about colour that inspires you and takes your work to the next level?


My use of colour is intuitive, and I really do just love the colour. I don’t use the colour wheel to plan out my colour scheme, I just go for it. I mix all of my own colours. I do also believe there is a meaning behind the colours that an artist uses and how the vibration of each colour alongside each other can play an important role in a piece of artwork. 

'Your thoughts are like the artist's brush. They create a personal picture of the reality you live in.' - a favourite quote of Gabrielle's.

Thank you Gabrielle and Lana for taking the time to tell the LAC community a bit more about yourself, your creative process, and giving us some insight into both of your works. If you have not seen their exhibition 'Whispers' CLICK HERE to be re-directed to their on-going exhibition!