Catnip for Connoisseurs - Page 2

Living a dream incognito, hard-working El Gato Gomez churns out art for those who like things sleek and stylish
Catnip for Connoisseurs
'Space Architecture' ("I find that weird backgrounds work great in space," she says).
Catnip for Connoisseurs
'Runway' ("I had a bit of a following among the psychiatric community during this phase").
Catnip for Connoisseurs
'Gray Abstract' ("I love abstracts," El Gato says).
Catnip for Connoisseurs
'Space City,' a recent piece that brings together a natural pairing: flying saucers and modern architecture.

The El Gato family lives in a 1930s traditional home with a modern remodeled interior, fitted out with Danish modern and George Nelson furniture, and work by such mid-century artists as Jim Flora and Jules Engel, as well as younger artists.

El Gato does the painting while Mr. Gato handles the website, and they share other business tasks. Even the younger gatos, ages 5 and 15, get into it. “My oldest is so very, very, very artistic. I steal a lot of ideas from him, actually,” she says.

While El Gato does sell her work through several galleries, including Miami’s Harold Golen Gallery and Palm Springs’ Christopher Anthony Ltd. and M Modern galleries, eBay is her marketing mainstay.

Since El Gato went full time five years ago, she says, she has produced about 5,000 original paintings—and until recently (so far for just one client) she doesn’t produce prints. And while she works in thematic series, she doesn’t repeat images. “No two pieces are exactly alike,” El Gato says.

“I’m a hard worker,” she says. “I work trying to look for new influences and new inspirations all the time. I think that hard work does pay off.”

El Gato paints eight to ten hours a day, without assistants, and works every day, including Christmas and her birthday, she says.

El Gato produces four or five paintings in acrylic and pencil a day, working without a sketch—or, often, even without a fixed idea. The designs come from “off the top of my noggin,” she says.

“I just start painting and see where things land,” she says. “I try to balance things out—put in my first object and try to balance things out from there.”

El Gato does not indulge in any let’s-wait-for-artistic-inspiration stuff. She’d love to do larger paintings with greater detail, she says, but in fact her paintings have been shrinking—from two feet by four feet to eight by ten inches, “because they’re more affordable and people will buy them quickly.”

“This is our business,” she explains, “and this is the only source of our income.”
“More than anything else,” she adds, “I love to paint abstracts.”

El Gato deliberately keeps her prices low. “I just feel like, you know, I’m paid well for my time,” she says. “It’s nice to be able to sell affordable original art that anybody can purchase to put in their house.”

Through eBay auctions, unlike at galleries, buyers set their own prices, so El Gato quickly learns whether her art is attracting a paying audience. One piece might go for $400 right away, another might linger before moving at $50.

“I like to experiment, but the weirder stuff seems to not sell, or not sell as high. The more I push the boundaries of craziness,” she says, “the less popular it is.”