MP recently spoke with contemporary realism painter Carin Gerard, who creates nature-inspired artwork. Gerard is currently working on a new exhibit and will soon be launching an NFT collection. She infuses her experiences, travels, and education into each work of art. Utilizing color theory and techniques of the Italian and Spanish masters, Gerard captures moments with skill and grace. Her work blends the classical realism of the Renaissance era with the spirit and spontaneity of contemporary art. It is a distinctive style that combines the wonder of light and the interplay of shadow.
CG: My early inspiration came from my mother, who had what I remember as a ‘magical studio’ in our Joseph Eichler home in Granada Hills. As a young girl, I would paint along with her in the studio, where she always encouraged me to pursue art. Her encouragement built my confidence and faith in my ability. I developed a profound passion at a young age and have remained truly engaged. I love losing myself in the process of creating art.
What do you stand for as an artist, and why?
While nature continues to rest at the heart of my art, I’m eager to share my most recent works, which reveal new methods of expression that capture the world’s sense of impermanence. I have felt a profound shift in the art of being, as opposed to the art of doing, over the past few years, and my latest work showcases the nuanced beauty of reemergence. I’m painting flowers, skies, and butterflies that elicit feelings of transformation by emphasizing the delicate balance between imagination and reality. My technique focuses initially on the innermost qualities of natural objects. It builds out, which allows me to emphasize their ever-shifting objective and physical beauty without expecting perfection or exacting realism. These pieces are looser and more ethereal. I hope they convey a sense of resilience, purpose, and possibility that I feel is necessary in contemporary culture.
How do you want to be remembered as an artist one hundred years from now, and why?
I hope that I am remembered for looking deep into my subject matter to get to the essence of what matters. Exaggerating nature’s beauty is a principal theme of my work. My perception of the world is vivified through painting, where seemingly simple, natural objects are graphically and dramatically brought to life. While the shapes, shadows, and textures are less perceptibly real, they take on magical and majestic features. To create this effect, I balance the classical realism of the Renaissance era with the spirit and spontaneity of contemporary art. Specifically, I paint from the innermost elements of a subject to the outermost. This allows me to amplify and enhance the pattern rather than worry about its realistic interpretation.
What do you hope to accomplish with each piece of art, and why?
I’ve always been interested in exploring how art contributes to feelings of hopefulness, and in that way, I want my work to translate seamlessly from reality to imaginativeness. I’m not interested in creating photorealistic art but rather endless in its possibility. I think this is what we all need now. I’ve been encouraged by recent societal and professional evolutions and am eager to contribute art that invokes purpose and power. We are emerging in such unexpected yet intentional ways. I hope that my work consistently offers an element of timely, provocative surprise.
From inspiration to ideation to completion, what is your artistic process like, and how do you breathe life into each piece?
Once I decide on a theme for a new piece, I source my reference. If it is a floral, I need to find them when they’re in season. I need to have the reference in my studio to make lots of sketches and take many photographs. Sometimes, I’ll photograph many, many flowers before I find my one, two, or three “stars” because I will spend three months on a painting, and it needs to be worthy enough to exaggerate on a large scale. I do full-scale sketches before I transfer them to my canvas. I paint in a classical technique called wipe-out underpainting. This layer provides a generalized map of light, mid-tone, and shadow that will guide you through the rest of your painting. As the name implies, the method is subtractive: you wipe away paint to reveal the final image, then I paint thin layers of glazes over that to create my final look. I depart from the classical approach and step into the contemporary by exaggerating my form and interpreting the colors from my modern sensibilities
Do you believe artists have a responsibility to serve as social commentators on the period in which they live and create art, or can they jump periods and do as they please? Why?
As an artist, I feel it is important to be creative thinkers and provide our audience with inspirational ideas so we can engage thoughtfully and be socially responsible.
The four roles of artists as defined by Henry Sayre are as follows. A record of their surroundings, expressions of emotions tangibly or visibly, a revelation of universal or hidden truths, and new or different viewpoints on the world were all aimed at through this activity.
Generally, what are your thoughts on NFTs, a medium through which art is brought to life, and why?
I am excited about this new space because there is a feeling of endless possibilities and a sense of shared community in which my art would be able to reach a wider audience. I feel that fine artists will have a new platform to showcase their work and the best part of it is that the royalties from resales on the secondary market will last in perpetuity. We are learning more and more about the Metaverse and Web3 as well. This is a new time and space, and I want to learn as much about it. And I encourage all artists to discover the possibilities
Do you think today’s NFT artists will one day be regarded as the modern-day versions of traditional artists?
Yes, I feel that fine artists in the NFT space will be respected as traditional artists one day. I am approaching my NFT project the same way I am approaching my IRL (In Real Life) work, but I am adding another dimension, including animation, to bring my fine art to life. It is exciting because I am also offering the IRL piece with the Digital piece as part of my roadmap. So, for me, I feel as if I am creating the same quality of work for my gallery and my NFT projects. I am not producing my NFT piece on the computer, but rather I am painting it as if it would be a piece for my gallery, and then we will work from the TIFF files to create the animation.
Why did you enter the NFT space, and what are you looking to accomplish?
After the Beeple sale in March of 2021, I realized that there was an exciting new platform to sell art. My nephew, Noah Davis, is an Associate Vice President in the Post-War and Contemporary Art department in New York, specializing in Digital Sales of both physical and NFT-based art. Noah explained this important shift in the art world and what was happening in the NFT space for fine artists. It was such a learning curve, and I am still learning, but I am 100% sure that I need to step into this space and create some art. My goal is to learn as much about the impact on the environment so I can be thoughtful in my approach and try to create a piece of art that is beautiful and unique. I want to be able to offer a roadmap that will give some of the NFT holders a life-size Giclee or an actual oil painting. I love the idea that thousands of people can enjoy a painting rather than just one person. That seems so wild!
Cover photo: Misty Floral by artist Carin Gerard / Photo by Christopher Broughton / Photo courtesy of Carin Gerard