Thursday, March 29, 2012

My Creative Process; Part I

This is an entry from a couple of years ago. A few of you...ok, two of you...asked about these 'voices' that I was writing about. I realized that the introduction to the voices was something I did in a different blog a few years back. I'm going to run the 5 original posts that introduced these annoying voices.

If you've already read this short series (again, I'm only talking to a couple of people) then you have my apologies. New things are coming on the Monday posts. Til then, here is the first post introducing my art and the rest of the gang.



A lot of people have asked me how I go about creating a painting. How do I determine the subject matter? Or, how do I choose the model? Or, where did I get the idea for that pose? So, I thought I would take a few minutes to show you how my ideas generally form.


I will call this Brainstorming Day, usually brought on when I look over at the empty canvases stacked neatly in my studio. Like today.

Today I have a slight advantage: I already have a theme. I’m doing a series of Greek mythology-related works. I call the series Modern Greek, where I wonder how a particular god, goddess, hero or heroine would appear in today’s world. Now it’s time to let my mind wander. This usually happens in, what I like to call, “Meditative Position #1.”

It is in this position that I allow my subconscious do a little work for a change. If I don’t come up with anything, I move into “Meditative Position #2.”

While little red, green and blue dots scroll across my screen I let my fingers strum on autopilot while my mind starts considering subject matter. Mostly, I’m just listing names in my head. Zeus. Ares. Hera. Aphrodite… I wonder if I can get someone to pose nude for Aphrodite. 

I’m snatched back to cyber-reality when I notice that my cyber-audience is booing me. I refocus and manage to finish “Carry On My Wayward Son” without getting unplugged. I start something a little easier. With “Eye of the Tiger” starting, I let my mind soar while my fingers move deftly up the plastic neck of my tiny guitar.

How about something a little more fringe? One of the Titans, perhaps. Maybe a nymph. I can name a few Titans, but I don’t think I know any nymphs. I should have paid more attention in history. Then again, since nymphs aren’t real, maybe history wasn’t where I learned about them. Was it creative writing? Literature? Social Studies? Damn, they’re booing again. Is there anything easier than Survivor? Probably not.

I decide to try the Killers. While Brandon Flowers’ voice comes over my TV speakers I can hear my own voice whispering a list of names. I don’t know if I’m thinking or speaking. Hecate, Apollo, Demeter, Artemis, Danae, Eros, Chronos, Poseidon. Sometimes images from memory flash in my head at the sound of one of the names, like Harry Hamlin riding Pegasus around the head of the Kraken in Clash of the Titans. Sometimes it’s a person that I know, like my friend CheeseMan who seems to fit Zeus perfectly.

Hestia, Helen, Medea, Atlas, Phaeton. More images click into place, then flitter away to be replaced by others. I could do this all day. What I need is some reality thrown in.

I start with models rather than subject matter, starting with the list of volunteers. I eliminate models I’ve used before, often reluctantly. I eliminate people I don’t look forward to working with. Already, something is happening. My head is filling with images. Some of them are repeats, like the Pegasus, and what I think might be Harry Hamlin’s headshot. But some of them are potential models. Three people stand out in my head, their names crashing around inside my brain like dancers in a mosh-pit. I will dub these people: Blondie, Not-Blondie, and Dude.

Blondie is sexy, smart, and charismatic. Not-Blondie is beautiful, sophisticated, and wise. Dude is handsome, dynamic, and strong. More pictures click into place in my head. Real clicking, too. I hear it, like an invisible slide projector sitting just behind my eyes: Blondie holding a spear, Blondie naked holding a spear, Not-Blondie in a loin cloth holding a golf club, Dude eating ice cream, Dude eating ice cream while Not-Blondie swats at him with a golf club, Not-Blondie kissing Harry Hamlin, Dude kissing Harry Hamlin.

The clicking is loud, and constant, and already I find that images of Blondie are the ones that show up the most. Progress! I eliminate the other two. I dump more names into my mental slide projector, and more images click into place. Aphrodite, Dionysus, Hecate, Athena, Pandora. I try to picture Blondie as some of these women, and a few more images seem to fit, while others are very wrong. Blondie as Aphrodite fits. Pandora does not. Hera isn’t quite right, either. Medea has potential. Nike seems perfect. Medusa is put on the back burner. Eos is ideal. Click. Click. Click. Pictures are coming faster, the clicking in my head drowns out everything else. I don’t fight it. This is part of the process. My plastic guitar is now leaning against the coffee table.

I think of Blondie’s traits, both physical and mental. Hair. Eyes. Smile. Shape. Style. Personality. What would I want to emphasize? More images join the maelstrom. Some of the images in my head are becoming more prominent than others. There are few weapons in the images. The warriors are fading. No Athena, no Artemis. There are more gowns. More smiles. Blondie has a great smile. Great shoulders. Emphasize the shoulders. Emphasize the mouth. Smiles. Probably not Medea. One down.

Nike with wings, soaring. Hera standing regally. Aphrodite lounging alluringly, nearly nude. Eos stretching powerfully. Click. Click. Click. Does one subject show up more than the others?

I decide that I want power. I choose Eos, Goddess of the Dawn.

Two problems down; Subject and Model. This should put me at ease, but it doesn't. Suddenly, this has become the most important thing in the world!

Wikipedia says that Eos was the Titan goddess of the dawn, who rose from the edge of Oceanus, the ocean that surrounds the world, to herald her brother Helios, the sun. She opened the gates of heaven so Apollo could ride his chariot across the sky every day.

More research. Sometimes she rode a winged chariot, and at other times she was depicted with wings of her own. Eos had many lovers. Her typical way of dealing with them was to kidnap them. Her colors were red, orange and pink. In Roman mythology she is known as Aurora. She was often called ‘the rosy fingered.”

Now I’m armed with a lot of information. The clicking is too much. I can’t do anything but think of this painting. I’m sure I heard my wife say something but I have no time for her. I must get this out of my head. I’m pacing back and forth in front of my laptop. I remind myself that I need to keep this modern. Wings are out, at least attached.

Planes pop into my head. Helicopters. Birds. Dawn. The Sun. Apollo. Click. Click. Click. One picture leading to the next. Click. Click. Click. Ah, a repeat: Rope. Rope used for kidnapping lovers and drawing back the curtain of night. Click. Click. More birds, this time on a wire with Eos balanced between them. Click. Click. Click. Click. Eos as cowgirl. Click. Click. Click. Eos holding the sun in her hands. Click. Click. Click. And finally, the same five or six images are clicking into place, over and over again. The clicking in my head starts to grow more manageable. I feel more controlled.

Now, the real work begins...


Monday, March 26, 2012

Crash Test: How Not to Recycle

I thought I'd keep it light this morning. There is a lot of crap happening out there in the world. Tryvon Martin's shooting and its repercussions, UNC missing the Final Four, North Korea getting ready to either a) send a satellite into space or b) nuke everyone, and worrying about flour bombs being thrown at us can keep us awake at night.

I had a great blog all ready to go. It was smart and just humerous enough to make you grin and say, "that guy is a genius." I avoided saying "boob" and never, not once, said that I was "statin' the obvious." Not once!

Then, I rolled my trash out to the curb. While I was out there I watched the recycling truck pass by me in a blur. Maybe he thought I was trying to race him to get my recycling to the curb. Maybe he was just in a hurry. Either way, my recycling bin was empty and he flew past me like a PETA member heading to a flour sale. And at the next house, he didn't have time to stop.

But that didn't stop him from extending the automated robot arm (which always makes me wonder if the garbage/recycling truck is actually a Transformer. Sorry, I digress...). He shoots the arm out to grab the recycling bin "on the go," but instead just manages to knock it about 4' away, sending debris across the neighbor's yard in a confetti explosion of soup cans and soda bottles.

Finally coming to a full stop, the guy got out of the truck and tried very hard not to look at me, standing 20 feet away from him. He hiked his pants up and started cleaning up trash with as much dignity as one can muster while cleaning up a mess that you created when you were trying to either be cool or be an asshole, but either way your only witness is looking right at you...and laughing.

That's when I realized that the world could use some humor. So, instead, I thought I'd give you this story in hopes that it makes you laugh as much as it did me.

Oh, also, I wanted to know if any of you thought that garbage/recycle trucks were Transformers, too. I can't be the only one! I mean, c'mon. I feel like I'm statin' the obvious with that one.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

5 Paintings I Wish I Had Done

This is an exercise I would recommend to anyone, whether you're a writer, a painter, a song-writer, an architect or a sharpshooter. Go out there and find 5 things you wish you had done in your field. For me, these paintings represent a small portion of the works done by people to whom I aspire to be like. 

Maybe you have works that you really love. If so, I'd love to see them. Make a note of them in the comment section!

1. Alphonse Mucha - Croation Woman with Apples
I have been in love with Mucha since I was a teenager. Most of you probably know his Art Nouveau posters, and these were the pieces that originally attracted me as well. However, I started to look at the other works that he'd done and was amazed. Mucha has a few of my favorite paintings, but this one is one that I wish I could put my name on. The expression of the woman really gets me. If I stare at this painting for 10 minutes, nine of them would be just staring into her eyes.

2. JW Waterhouse - Penelope and the Suitors 
No matter how many times I look at this work I'm still amazed by it. Waterhouse does something that I have never been able to do: remain loose, even while giving us some intimate detail! Granted, the painting is over 6' long, but it couldn't be any other way. This painting was meant to be looked at from afar. The use of color to create emotion, the use of tone...this painting has everything I ever learned to do as an artist, things that take years to master.

3. Julie Bell - Angel Wings
This is a case where, I think, the student has surpassed the master. Julie Bell was a model and student of an artists that I have always admired, Boris Vallejo. Bell has come a long way from her beginnings, though she was always a great artist. Most of their work is commercial, but that doesn't lessen her talent, and this painting is a great example of it. The various textures in this work are impressive. The luminous quality of the flesh drive me to bouts of screaming envy. But, it's also just a nice composition and is the sort of work that I would do.

4. Peter Paul Rubens - Diana Returning from the Hunt
Peter Paul Rubens is my favorite artist. He takes these amazing events and paints them as if we were watching them happen, and I can easily believe I am witnessing history through his eyes. I have also looked at this painting in black and white, and I believe it is just as amazing. This is another painting that is meant to be seen large. To be surrounded by four walls of these giant works...breathtaking.

5. Richard Young - Reposal
I first saw Richard Young's work a couple of years ago and fell in love with it. This painting is one of my favorites. His figure work is amazing, the textures are beautiful, and his use of lights and darks are impressive. I've wanted to reproduce this painting many times, but I'm not convinced I could do it any better than this amazing artist. Looks like I'm going to have to do my own one of these days.

So, these are five of the many paintings I wish had my name on them. Maybe one day one of my paintings will make someone else's list. Until then, I'll keep on creating and improving. It's all any of us can do, right?


Monday, March 19, 2012

There Are 78 Cards in a Tarot Deck

Many of you know that I have taken on the challenge of completing my own tarot deck. This is not an easy task, but I knew that going in. I knew I was up to the challenge.

Right now, you're thinking that I'm giving up. "Uh oh," you're saying. "It proved to be too much for him."

That is incorrect. No fear, fellow adventurers. The deck continues. I am, however, working more slowly than I had intended. But just so you are aware, there are SEVENTY-EIGHT cards in a tarot deck. I know I'm statin' the obvious here, but that's a lot of paintings! More importantly, it's a lot of GOOD paintings.

There are a lot of tarot decks out there. A LOT. But out of the majority of them, I am not a fan of the art. I've heard from some of you that this isn't an uncommon feeling. It is easy to see why, now that I'm elbow deep in it. Creating 78 cards is a huge task and people probably cut a lot of corners. Keeping your interest up is one, publisher's deadlines another (for those artists lucky enough to HAVE a publisher), and the sheer amount of time that it takes. Not to mention coming up with your own version of seventy-eight tarot cards. This is not a task to be taken lightly.

The key for me, however, it this: Tarot is an ancient and wondrous art form. Let's take all of the "hocus pocus" out of it. Tarot has been around for a long time. Just the 22 cards of the major arcana can be traced back to 1440, where they were found in Italy. They were denounced as far back as that as well. The tarot has been linked to Egyptian and Israeli culture. Religious and secular groups have used the tarot as reference, story telling device, and even divination. The tarot has a rich, complex history.  A tarot deck should honor that majesty rather than just getting dumped out there in quick flash of mediocrity.

So, if I'm going to do this deck...and I am doing to do this deck...then it should not be rushed, it should not be 78 sketches that I did in my spare time, it should not be thrown together, and it should not just be a copy of all the other mainstream decks out there. My goal is to infuse every painting with the honor and magic they deserve.

--- Geraud 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Multiple Versions of Paintings

I have a growing addiction. I love re-painting some of my old works. The reasons are simple, and a little surprising for me. I have a very serious attachment to many of my works. I love many of my paintings. And not all for vain reasons. Yes, sometimes I just think a painting is well executed and deserves the praise and acknowledgement of all the world, but usually it's something warmer and more earthy than that.

Usually, it's just that I love the models.

Innocence Lost II

I am an incredibly lucky artist. I have some amazing friends. And many of those friends are incredibly beautiful people, both men and women. And many of my friends are willing to allow me to share their beauty with others. When I've done a good job with a painting I'm able to share more than their physical beauty, too. If I do it right, the world gets to see a glimpse of the inner beauty that I see on a regular basis.

The other side of this is that I am growing as an artist. I learn new things, try new techniques, experiment with new gear. Sometimes that shows from one painting to the next. As my technique gets better, I look back at my favorite paintings and think, "hey, this painting deserves to be better, too." It's that simple.

Innocence Lost III

Right now I have a ton of these paintings. I want to do another version and make it better. I think I can do a better job of showing the beauty of a person that I love. I feel guilty if I don't, like I'm leaving them behind, like I've done them some disservice. 

But I have others to paint. My list of friends isn't exhausted. The world has not seen the extent of beauty in my   warehouse of friends. Don't worry. They are coming. And if I do it right, you will be in awe of them.

--- Geraud 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Voices are Back

I'm lying in bed minding my own business...that's not a metaphor for anything dirty. I'm literally just lying in bed, looking at my Android, entering the food that I ate on a site called This is not a flattering name for a website, but it works great for logging your food intake and exercise. It's also great for reminding you that you are, indeed, fat.

And that it's not a secret.

So, I'm lying in bed and I hear a voice yelling, "How long has it been? Huh? How long?"

I'm sure I recognize the voice. I check under the bed. I look around the room. I don't actually get out of bed because that would be...whatever the opposite of lazy is. I look at the pug. The pug looks back at me. I say, "Umm, what?"

The pug raises an eyebrow, snorts, and goes back to sleep.

I finish entering the caloric count of a Bojangle's two-piece white combo (you do NOT want to's called FatSecret for a reason, people).

"You'd better listen to me, boy!" the voice yells. And I know who it is. It's Keith David's voice. "It's been at least three months!"

"WHAT'S been three months?" I ask.

"Since you wrote a blog entry. You want your business to grow or not?"

"Ok, whoa. One, it's NOT been three months since I wrote a blog entry. And two, my business is doing just fine. I have a collector, thank you very much."

"Collector, huh?" Keith David can be really condescending.

"Yes," I insist, "a collector."

"Well, tell me this, Mr. I-Have-A-Collector? What happens when he's done buying your work? Then what?"

"Ok, you're being a dick."

Just to prove him wrong, I go check my blog site. The whole time I'm thinking, "six months, my ass." But, of course, when I look at the last blog entry it's been a little more than three months.

"SIX MONTHS???" David Keith's voice rages in my head. I hear him kicking things, throwing things in an angry tantrum. This worries me because he is, afterall, inside my head. I try to get him to calm down, which only makes things worse.

The pug senses something and looks up at me. I shrug.

"Ok," I say. "You're right. I'm lame. I'm sorry."

The flailing in my head seems to slow down.

"I had school and work and painting. I've been busy." I quickly add, "THAT'S NOT AN EXCUSE!" when I hear him start to get riled up again. "I'm just saying. But, I'm back. We'll take care of it. Ok?"


"Ok, David?"

"David?" he says. "I'm Captain Artist! Have you already forgotten who the hell I am???"

"Uh, you sound like David Keith," I venture.

"Who the hell is David Keith???" Things start to get kicked again. There's more yelling.

At least going crazy won't be boring.