Background: NAC has run a drop-in life-drawing session on Monday evenings since 2018. It’s proved very popular, with many artists and models becoming our ‘regulars’; some are taking part in this, our occasional interview feature.
Q: A wonderful self-portrait in your typical and most recognisable style Gerrard. Although you are not a fulltime artist, your artwork is very well-known in the community and beyond. Tell us more about yourself and your interest in art.
A: I suspect that like many folk, I find pleasure both in creating and experiencing the creativity of others. I grew up with the art of my mother and others distributed around our house and so have always seen art as something that we can all choose to do. I am not formally trained but learn from every artist that I discover and come to respect, for example most recently Mela Muter.
Artist at Garage 10
Q: Do you focus on particular themes/materials when producing your artwork?
A: I am primarily a painter working in oils and my work is mainly figurative and only slightly realistic. I need the absorption of painting and I'm fascinated by the composition process. I re-draw and sketch my ideas many times over, allowing for a semi-conscious churn of elements, until what I will be painting, reveals itself and becomes clear. This exploration helps me to invest in the quality of what I then go on to paint.
The Shell Hunters
Q: What have you taken inspiration from when producing your artwork?
A: I can become fascinated by the most trivial image or idea from anywhere, but although these things may trigger a painting, they often do not end up appearing in the final work, as they tend to get changed beyond any recognition as I explore the composition.
Q: Moving on to Northern Arts Club, how long have you been a part of NAC and why did you join?
A: I have been a member of NAC for over 5 years, although I’m not sure exactly when. I originally joined NAC as a member of Aberdeen Artists Society Council, to provide liaison and help foster ways for the two organisations to collaborate in areas of mutual interest; and so have been involved in booking rooms for AAS AGM meetings and attending NAC AGMs etc. More recently for a few years prior to lock-down, I had been able to play an active role in helping to run one of the Clubs very popular and successful life-drawing groups.
Q: Have you shared any of your work with Club members? If so, how have you done this?
A: I haven’t shared my work much beyond Aberdeen Artists Society exhibitions and NEOS, although one of my recent painting was selected for the RSA annual exhibition which is open on-line now. I also try to use one of my works each year, to create what is generally regarded as an inappropriate Christmas Card, and post some of these around locally over Christmas.
Q: The Covid Pandemic has curtailed Club activities, including the life-drawing sessions. Have you tried online sessions? Or other methods of maintaining your skills?
A: I’ve found that I haven’t been able to derive the same pleasure from online life-drawing sessions, perhaps because the subjects are already 2-dimensional; but also maybe because “it just wasn’t the same”. Generally I have not endeavoured to do much from-life depiction drawing and I miss the discipline and the social interaction of the life-drawing sessions.
Q: And did you find more time to focus on your artwork during lockdown?
A: I work full-time and this has continued much the same through lock-down and working from home has been a very interesting experience. However, as before, I am very lucky to have a studio space available to me and so I have also been able to continue to create work in my spare time and this has included some preparative sketching etc. I participate in the NEOS open studios exhibitions every September and was able to open my studio again last year; although attendance was down on previous years, it seemed good to be able to show that art was still happening in difficult times.
Q: And finally, has creating your artwork acted as a coping mechanism during the pandemic?
A: Art in general helps me feel better about myself and my fellow human beings and so it has always been a coping mechanism for me, being able to create work during the pandemic.