Ever since Brenda Basham Dothage was a child, she had a yearning to paint. But she doubted her drawing skills and didn’t pursue it.
Instead, she earned a master’s degree in business and worked at a variety of jobs. She gained experience in various business ventures, public relations and the publishing industry. She was an instructor for self-help workshops, a counselor for sexual assault survivors and a board member for a children’s museum.
But through it all, her desire to paint continued until it grew too strong to ignore.
“I gave myself the freedom to go with it,” she said.
In December 2001, she did a painting around one of her poems — a form of art she calls poetry-painting. Still, she didn’t paint anything else for another year and a half. But then her art took off and she had her first exhibition in November 2003 in Palmdale, California.
Several shows followed and now, having moved from the Golden State to St. Johns County in May 2018, she is co-owner of The Bold Art Gallery in downtown St. Augustine.
On Aug. 8, she cut the ribbon on her new location, 51 Cordova St. Suite C. It was really a grand reopening, as her gallery had formerly been located next door in Suite B.
Representatives of the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce were on hand for the event to help her and husband Orville Dothage celebrate. It was conducted just prior to the First Friday Art Walk, which has resumed after a brief period of dormancy in the wake of the recent pandemic.
Visitors discovered that the new gallery is larger than the former one, where Basham Dothage had originally opened in 2018. There’s more room for the public and better opportunities to display her work.
“We’ll be bigger and better,” predicted the author, artist and photographer prior to reopening.
There are approximately 75 pieces on display: acrylics, oils, poetry-paintings, photographs and canvas prints. Basham Dothage also sells tote bags and mugs bearing images or her work, as well as copies of her book, “Think Your Life Into Action.”
Basham Dothage has never taken an art class, which perhaps has left her art free of preconceived ideas. In fact, every work has a spontaneous quality that sprouts from her approach.
“I try to plan stuff, but I do better when I just let it happen,” she said.
It’s a creative freedom she passes on to her grandchildren, telling them it’s OK to color outside the lines.
“There are no mistakes in art,” she said. “If you don’t like it, you can paint over it.”
Photography is a relatively new venture for Basham Dothage. She discovered it less than a year ago while photographing her garden.
“I was taking pictures and taking pictures, and I was scrolling through them, and I thought: Well, these look really great,” she said.
Her husband encouraged her to display those alongside her paintings.
The Bold Art Gallery is open from noon to 6 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.