The Surrealist Worlds of Lola Gil


ormer tattoo artist Lola Gil isn’t always pleased with what she sees when she looks around her. Often, in fact, life can be a real “nightmare.” But that’s where art comes in. Through her fantastical paintings, Gil is able to create not only a refuge for herself but also a safe haven for her fans.





Los Angeles, California:


Deanna Phoenix Selene: Lola, your works enchant. I’m curious, did you have imaginary playmates as a child?

Lola Gil: I was very lonely and had a vivacious imagination. My mom didn’t let me play with friends very much, so I sank pretty deep into my world of toys. My grandparents were toy collectors, obsessive collectors actually. I had an endless array of things to choose from, but my favorites were always the things which came from film releases. E.T., Annie, Star Wars, the list is insane. I still go to my grandmother’s house and pick out things I love from childhood. to add to my collection.

Deanna Phoenix Selene: In your piece, “She Fell From the Sky,” one feels as if you are fabricating a sanctuary. Whimsical solitude. Does painting afford you a way to create a room of your own?


"She Fell From the Sky," Lola Gil

She Fell From the Sky, Lola Gil


Lola Gil: It most definitely does. I use painting often as my own therapy, creating safe, tranquil places for myself. I love getting lost in my pieces, and do get quite attached to the works. They are my sanctuaries.


Lola Gil,

Soliloquy, Lola Gil


Deanna Phoenix Selene: Have you ever wished you could meet and befriend some of your characters?


Lola Gil

The Marvelous Magnetic Speech Metastrophe, Lola Gil


Lola Gil: I think I have met my characters. They are all created from the people I interact with and the feelings I pick up from them.

Deanna Phoenix Selene: Do you miss them when a piece is finished?


Highspeed Celophane to the Bellflower Ball, Lola Gil

Highspeed Celophane to the Bellflower Ball, Lola Gil


Lola Gil: Yes. I miss the paintings greatly. It takes me a very long time to paint them, so it is hard not to become attached.

Deanna Phoenix Selene: Do you have a special favorite?

Lola Gil: I would say my favorite painting comes from a body of work I did a few years ago titled, “Your Ordinary Hero.” It touched on the selfless people in the world who so deeply inspire me; the experiences I’ve had learning and spending time with those who donate their time and lives to causes they’re so passionate about. That touches me greatly.


Freedomfighter, Lola Gil

Freedomfighter, Lola Gil


Deanna Phoenix Selene: Please tell me about this piece…


Not Used to Ourselves, Lola Gil

Not Used to Ourselves, Lola Gil


Lola Gil: I was painting this during a time that was very challenging to me. I can see now how much I learned about myself when pushed to my limit. We may think we are strong, but we don’t know how truly strong we truly are until we’re put into a situation we have no control over. To represent our strength, I called upon the image of the mighty buffalo. Yet you will notice that all-the-while, this soft and sentimental person remains inside. The new, vibrant, bright-headed figure is birthed from time and endurance, and from what we take from our experience. It’s powerful what we learn and how we change.

Deanna Phoenix Selene: Has there ever been a piece too emotional for you to finish?


Sapele and the Carriers, Lola Gil

Sapele and the Carriers, Lola Gil



Lola Gil: No, if it’s a tough time I’m working through, painting about it seems to help me deconstruct and come to an understanding. It’s so good for my soul and well-being.


Lola Gil


Deanna Phoenix Selene: What was it like collaborating on a piece with fellow painter, Greg Simkins? Is this something you have ever done before? How does this work?


Greg Simkins and Lola Gil

Greg Simkins and Lola Gil


Lola Gil: I haven’t done very many collaborations, no, so I was excited to work with Greg. He and I have been friends for a long time and had talked about doing something like this for years. Because we were working on a show where we would exhibit together, we were on the same page with our themes. It came together very easily: he started the piece, and I went off the feelings I got from what he created. We switched back and forth like that and ended up producing a really lovely painting in the end. I love Greg’s work, and was very honored to work with him on it.

Deanna Phoenix Selene: What have been some of your favorite responses to your work?



Lola Gil
: I love it when young people feel inspired. There is something so raw and honest from youth, so I feel it’s a true compliment to catch the attention of someone young and in love with art.

Deanna Phoenix Selene: Have you ever been surprised by some of the feedback?

Lola Gil: I am often surprised when I hear that my art is dark, because it’s quite far from that. But my palette does lend the possibility to go there.


Lola Gil


Deanna Phoenix Selene: Can you tell me about “Painted Ladies”?


Lola Gil

Lola Gil being painted on before posing for Natalia Fabia’s “Painted Ladies”


Lola Gil: This piece was created by my friend, Natalia Fabia, and a few of us posed for her. She jumped into the painting as well.

Deanna Phoenix Selene: Does painting ever leave you feeling too exposed? Or is that one of the things that attracts you to surrealism? The way you can use metaphor to convey a feeling or experience while still maintaining a sense of mystery and ambiguity?


Lola Gil


Lola Gil: The latter, definitely. I love having mystery in works. Not only for my own, but as an observer as well. It is quite something to me that an artist can feed your eyes as well as your imagination. If paintings don’t hold some deep-seated meaning, I lose interest.


Rhombus, Lola Gil

Rhombus, Lola Gil


Deanna Phoenix Selene:  Are there any themes you would like to explore next but just haven’t found a way yet to so do?

Lola Gil: I’ve been drawn to fluid imagery lately. I’d love to tackle how to paint water, or even better, milk.


Lola portrait





Further notes:


To view more of Lola Gil’s work, please visit her website at

You can also learn more about Greg Simkins at

As well as Natalia Fabia at


Combustus Managing Editor | + posts

My dream: to create a unique vehicle for artists and visionaries from all genres and all over the globe to inspire and learn from one another.

1 Comment

  1. John W. on July 1, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    Great interview! I actually own the painting at the very bottom of the article – the one with the little girl and the bunny 🙂

    Her work is so amazing!

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