Brian Gaskill: Actor, Writer,
Director and Painter
Brian Gaskill is a vet of daytime and prime-time television, appearing in contract roles on five daytime dramas and also on an Aaron Spelling prime-time production. He has also appeared as a guest star on many other prime-time shows. Brian has been in the biz since 1993 when he graduated from the prestigious Acting Conservatory at Suny Purchase.
Upon graduation, Brian performed in The Lion in Winter at The Cleveland Playhouse, co-starring Tony Award winner Elizabeth Franz, who convinced Brian to head to Los Angeles. Soon after, he broke into television on Aaron Spelling’s Melrose Place spin-off, Models Inc. Next he returned to NYC for the role of “Bobby Warner” on ABC’s All My Children.
While living in New York City, Brian became the co-founder (with Shea Whigham of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and Perry Mason) and producing director of The Rorschach Group, a theater company dedicated to bringing new material to the stages of Manhattan.
Upon his return to L.A., he was seen in Sony Screen Gems The Broken Hearts Club and the critically acclaimed short film Higher Grounds, opposite Ann Cusack, where Brian played an angel who was a golden retriever in his previous incarnation on earth. In addition, he guest starred on numerous prime-time series before returning to daytime television in the role of “Rafe,” a vampire slaying angel, on the ABC series Port Charles.
On other TV shows, Brian has since played Oscar Marone (a New Jersey/Vegas low rent casino owner) on The Bold and The Beautiful, BJ Greene (an ex high school nerd who has become a billionaire with a makeover and tendency towards insanity and chocolate milk) on As The World Turns, and Dylan Lewis (a young father, who had a baby as a teenager, and is trying to re-connect with his now teenage daughter) on Guiding Light.
Brian wrote, starred in, and co-directed a twenty minute short film titled The Speech (also co-wrote an original song for it). He also wrote and starred in another short film called The Audition…both can be found on YouTube.
During the “sheltering in place” of 2020, Brian discovered the joy of painting and within a few month period painted over 40 pieces. Now Brian is developing an indie film about a painter that he and his partners hope to produce next year.
(Courtesy of Brian Gaskill)
TSM: Brian, thank you so much for doing an interview for TSM. It’s a real pleasure to have you in the magazine.
BG: Thank you, it’s really cool of you to ask me. This is my first interview about my experience with painting. Really grateful.
TSM: I know that you only took up painting in the last five weeks since you’ve been staying in an art studio. You’ve never painted much in life, other than some doodling here and there. So, what do you enjoy most about the process of creating a painting? And what has surprised you?
BG: Well, when I was a small boy I thought I wanted to be a cartoonist, or work for Disney animation…but I got on stage at thirteen, and besides making birthday cards for my parents, pretty much stopped visual art…like you said doodles and sketches continues but that’s it. I have discovered now a deep love and maybe addiction to stroking the paint on a canvas and just seeing what happens…sometimes I have planned it out, but still it’s a surprise where it’s going. When I was a kid, I was too judgmental of myself when things didn’t come out as I hoped. I just turned 50 this year, and through painting I am finally returning to a freedom of being a child that I don’t think I ever let myself have before…I don’t know if I find any of it surprising though…it’s like someone has been pestering me to be their friend my whole life…knocking on my door asking me to come out and play and I just ignored them…until now.
TSM: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
BG: My inspiration is literally from that word…inspire: from the spirit…when I see my paintings, I see the real me…I have used my girlfriend and daughter as physical inspirations a few times, I suppose…but in most of the pictures, and even those, I prefer to think of no sex or recognizable human skin color…that’s where I feel the spirit.
TSM: What is your process for creating a piece of work?
BG: Since I am borrowing paint, sometimes I’m inspired by how much of what color do I have left. But mostly, at this point, it is a process of experimentation combined with simply following my gut and seeing what comes out…that’s the fun for me. That’s the fun for me in any art really, but there have only been a few times that my career as an actor felt that way…so this is helping me get reconnected to my gut and my real self.
TSM: What is your preferred painting medium and why? Have you experimented with different mediums?
BG: Right now I am just using acrylic on canvas…I like the bold colors and the way they stand out. It suits me. But I want try oil and also different surfaces…but for now the classic acrylic feels like a good way to start…and it feels real…like something people could hang on their wall…speaking of which, I would to just paint strait on a wall.
Four months ago was the first time I painted on canvas since I was seven…and I have done over 60 pieces in that time while “sheltering in place” during Covid…so I guess my understanding of what is right for me in handling the paint and brush has exponentially changed…and although I am playing with “different styles,” it is all from me…so my heart and soul stay the same, and what is consistent is my desire to get closer and closer to an authentic expression of myself…same as in my acting and writing.
TSM: Tell us about some of your favourite pieces of art you created. What makes these specific works your favourites?
BG: I guess this brings to mind that you can’t pick a favorite child. Yesterday, though on the the 35th anniversary of Louise Brooks death, I did an interpretation of her called The Rebel…and right now that’s my favorite…often my favorite is what I just finished because I usually have tried something new…and I am feeling my personal growth.
TSM: The words that you incorporate into many of your paintings, are they mainly written as a response to the images you create, or are the images inspired by the words you’ve written?
BG: With The Rebel, I had a vision in advance…she was a true Hollywood rebel and a personal artistic hero…I went to get the canvas that morning…I was in a mission…but mostly it has been an in the moment feeling…impulse based on the image for sure.
TSM: What is the hardest part of creating a painting?
BG: To let go of the disappointment that I am not Leonardo da Vinci…but that letting go is the best thing in the world…and other than that, since I am just doing this for myself, there is nothing hard about it.
TSM: Do you see a correlation between the different artistic disciplines that you engage in?
BG: Like I said, painting is helping me get reconnected to my spirit and my gut. These are things one needs as an actor, and things I have gone many years not being able to engage in; sometimes just because acting jobs have not been as plentiful, but often just because the jobs don’t inspire that level of engagement, or I just lost my spirit…but it’s great to find it again.
TSM: Your paintings truly are amazing and inspiring. Would you be interested in exhibiting your paintings in a gallery?
BG: Thank you so much. yes I am interested…it would be a dream come true to be in a gallery.
TSM: Who are are some visual artists you admire?
BG: Matisse, Degas, Basquiat, Charles Schultz…everybody really but you asked for names…I don’t have tons of names on the tip of my tongue since I’m not studied…but I love what the artist is in society. I believe they are needed like food and water.
TSM: If you had the power to do something in the world today, what would it be and why?
BG: I would make everybody wake up and stop killing each other…and accept our differences, including all religions, suddenly realizing that someone falling in love with someone of the same sex is not a sin. Societies that do not evolve towards Social progress and acceptance usually fail.
And the why of that is obvious I think…though maybe you meant something more directly connected to me…but that question will always take me to a broader scope.
TSM: What is one of your favourite quotes (or lines) that inspires you?
BG: Well, like many these days I’m a bit of a quote addict…probably on “goodreads” everyday…but the correct answer today is,“To paint is to love again, and to love is to live life to the fullest.” – Henry Miller
TSM: Anything else you’d like to share? And where can readers find out more about you and your work?
BG: I just encourage anyone to express their insides through any kind of art. I believe that is part of the reason we are alive, and if you are looking for answers to questions about life, the only way to get there is through your true expression…your personal art.
Look for me on Facebook and Instagram…and if you wanna see the bare bones of my career in TV and film, you can always look me up on IMDB.
TSM: Thanks again for the interview and wish you continued joy and success with painting!
BG: Thank you so so much for having me!!! It was good to say some of this stuff out loud, so I can realize why I’m doing what I’m doing!