Lila Gerich moved to Longboat Key 15 years ago to enjoy the area, but in turn, she's gotten plenty of inspiration for her artwork.
At first, painting was an escape for Lila Gerich.
As a young wife and mother, she didn’t have much free time. She was a professional ice skater, which was her break from home life, but when she was home with her three daughters, she turned to painting as her time out.
Over time, she continued skating and had a music career, but she never strayed from art.
Her portrait work started to become recognized in Ohio, and her first commissioned piece was a nude painting for a doctor’s office.
When she moved to Longboat Key, her artwork took a more contemporary turn.
Fifteen years ago, she and her husband built their home in Longbeach Village. They kept their home design modern, and her husband decided that she should be the creator of any artwork that adorns its walls.
“I don’t like a lot of clutter, so every piece has to have meaning where it’s hanging. … ” she said.
Their home is all white, with the only pops of color coming from her paintings. On the lowest level, pink-hued paintings, one an abstract peacock, hang on the walls. On the middle level, a large painting splashes the room with blue. In the guest bedroom, which her grandsons claimed as the “boys’ room,” a large coral painting hangs over the bed.
She and her husband came to Longboat Key to enjoy the area, and in return she’s gotten inspiration from her surroundings. Her home overlooks the Sister Keys, so she sits outside with her easel, and whether it be from the village peacocks to sailboats that pass through to Sarasota Bay, each piece is a contemporary twist on a scene she is familiar with.
“Everywhere you look here is beauty, and I’m really motivated with the color here, more so than I’ve ever been up north because color...it’s more into the neutrals...I’m learning how to express myself with color,” she said.
The more established she has become as a resident, the more consignment work she has created, which has allowed her to meet fellow Longboat residents.
“My goal is if I can make someone happy with my work and they like it well enough to put it in their home or wherever and be able to enjoy it, it puts a smile on their face of contentment, to me, that’s what it’s worth, and so it’s very personal with me.”
And her customers have even given her ideas.
“The surroundings and sunshine, and it’s just the beauty itself I think inspires me,” she said. “And the different clients that I have, they’re very encouraging. They even give me ideas of what they want, so working together with somebody, I think that’s why I like that part of it. It’s sort of a partnership with a client rather than just painting a lot of paintings and hoping somebody comes by and likes them.”
Because she is never sure when a consignment offer will come through, she continues to paint for fun. She grabs her brush,
heads to her patio and begins work on a canvas.
Gerich said she has always been creative. Whether it was baking cakes for her grandsons or writing songs, she said she always pushed her way to the edge to stand out.
“I think that if you feel it and desire it, you should go for it, and if you put your heart and soul into it, you can’t go wrong,” Gerich said. “And where it fits is just anybody’s guess.”
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